By Momodou Jarju
In continuation of his testimony last Wednesday, Abubacarr Saidykhan, narrated that in February 2009 he was the Foroyaa journalists assigned to investigate the illegal activity of witch and wizard hunt which lasted for about three months.
“There were these witch doctors who came from Guinea Conakry. I was told by the victims that they were hired by Yahya Jammeh to come and screen witches and wizards in this country,” he explained.
Saidykhan said he went to Makumbaya and spoke to one family, a compound called Jammeh Kunda. He said he spoke to an old woman who was abducted.
Saidykhan discovered that people were abducted and taken to a compound in Kololi o bywned Baba Jobe, one-time National Assembly member for Jarra East and majority leader. He said the abductees spent two to three weeks there and were given hallucinogenic concoction to drink all in the name of trying to screen witches and wizards in the country.
He said the military officers plus green boys accompanied the marabouts from Guinea Conakry to abduct suspected witches and wizards.
“They would go to villages and abduct old people, women and men,” he said.
He said some of the villages the abductors went to were Jambur, Essau, Makumbayaa and Gunjur Berending (where the Imam and Alkalo were abducted). He said whosoever was suspected of being a witch or wizard and refused to drink the concoction given to him or her was mercilessly beaten, citing a case involving a teacher at Essau who faced such punishment. Some victims went to Foroyaa to report their cases, he said.
“I interviewed several women but one of the women that I interviewed said she was raped by a green boy who could be her son,” Saidykhan said.
He explained that some of the victims said upon taking the concoction, they would urinate and defecate on themselves without realizing it and the green boys would clean the mess they made.
Narrating further, Saidykhan said he wrote the story and submitted it for publication headlined “Burial of an abductee in Makumbayaa.”Thereabout, he said Halifa Sallah, deputy for Serrekunda constituency, asked him to forward his story to him for him to go through it which he did.
He said Sallah built interest in the story due to the height of the human rights violations embedded in the article, thus Sallah asked him to accompany him to the family of the victims.
He said Sallah documented the stories of the victims made in video which he planned to share with ECOWAS and international institutions for them to know the height of human rights violations Jammeh was engaged in.
According to him, Halifa Sallah was arrested by Essa Badjie, the Inspector General of Police then and he was later taken to Banjulunding Police Station and then to police headquarters. He was arrested because he was trying to document the illegal exercise, he said.
“And the lap top of the wife Mrs. Ida Jallow was seized and the video camera which was used to take the testimony of the victims also seized,” he said.
He said Sallah was taken to Brikama Magistrate Court, refused bailed and incarcerated at Mile II. Halifa Sallah’s charges were later dropped and he was released from custody.