Detention

By Mustapha Jallow As we usher in the New Year 2015, the situation of detention without trial and disappearance without trace persist in The Gambia as more families are being deprived access or do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones for periods ranging from 17 days to 9 years. All the affected families, in one way or the other, have been wishing that they will be re-uniting with their long absent loved ones as we enter the New Year, but their long nurtured hopes have been dashed. Foroyaa have been featuring the long list of people who are still detained without any charge or court appearance as well as conveying the pleas of the affected families for the Gambian authorities to secure their release. These are husbands, fathers, mother, uncles, sons, and so on whose absence have caused untold psychological, physical and economic suffering to those they left behind. It includes those who disappeared nearly a decade ago to those who were recently arrested and detained in the wake of the 30 December 2014 attack on State House in the Gambian capital, Banjul. The victims are said to have been picked up by men in plain clothes, operatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and other sister security outfits across the country. The following are the detainees and the circumstances surrounding their arrests and subsequent detentions. 17 DAYS IN DETENTIONMr. Bai Jobe Njie, the father of Modou Njie, the captured ex-Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) soldier, alleged to be one of the insurgents who took part in the 30 December 2014 attack on the State House in Banjul, has been detained for 17 days now. He was picked up on Friday, 2 January 2015, at his residence in Tallinding Dumos, by two men in plain clothes and whisked away to an unknown destination. The family is calling on the concerned authorities to enable them to have access to him (Mr. Njie) and to secure his release as he is the sole breadwinner of the family. He is a driver at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC). 18 DAYS IN DETENTION  – Meta Njie, the mother of Lt. Col. Lamin Sanneh, the alleged ringleader of the insurgents who staged the foiled December 30th 2014 attack on the State House in Banjul, has been detained for 18 days now. She was picked up on Thursday afternoon, 1 January 2015, at her residence in Fajikunda Dumos by four operatives from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), according to a family source. The family source added that Madam Njie is still detained at the NIA head office in Banjul and that they do not have access to her. He dismissed earlier reports that Lt. Col. Sanneh’s mother has been released, adding that the family is appealing to the authorities to release her. 18 DAYS IN DETENTIONYusupha Lowe (13 years old), Pa Alieu Lowe (19 years old) and Jariatou Lowe, who are the son, younger brother and ex-wife respectively of Baboucar ‘Bai’ Lowe, former Warrant Officer Class 2 of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), the alleged dissident based in Germany and insurgent involved in the 30 December 2014 attack on State House, have all been arrested and detained for 18 days now. According to a family source, the trio was picked up around 3pm at Lamin since 1 January 2015 by men in plain clothes who claimed to have got their orders from the Office of the President and taken away in a waiting vehicle with tinted glasses. The family source indicated that they have since not returned home, adding that they are also concerned with the education of Yusupha, a minor, and Pa Alieu, who are both students that are still attending school. The source added that they do not have access to them or know the reason for their arrests. 18 DAYS IN DETENTIONEssa Bojang and Fatou Sonko, husband and wife, from Mbankam village in Nuimi, North Bank Region, have been in detention for 18 days now. They are the parents of the two ex-GAF military officers, Bakary Bojang and Dawda Bojang, who are alleged to be among the attackers of the December 30th, 2014, armed attack on State House in Banjul. The parents of these two former soldiers were reported to have been arrested at their home in Mbankam village since 1st January 2015 by two men who identified themselves as officers from the Amdalai Police Station. Family sources say the couple has not returned home since then and that they have gone to various police stations in search of the two, but to no avail. . 18 DAYS IN DETENTIONOmar Malleh Jagne, said to be a brother of the former US army Captain Njagga Jagne, who was reported killed in the 30 December 2014 shooting near State House, is said to be missing for 18 days. He was said to have been picked up together with his nephew, Ebou Jagne, who is confirmed released on Sunday, 11 January 2015. However, Omar Malleh, who was arrested at his residence in Lamin, is still being detained. 69 DAYS IN DETENTIONMr Ambu Drammeh, a mentally ill young man who was arrested and detained by men in plain clothes, is said to be held incommunicado at Mile Two prison. A magistrate of the Brikama court had earlier ordered for Mr. Drammeh to be taken to the Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital to undergo treatment. According to the family members, they have visited the Mile Two Prison on several occasions and the prison officials confirmed that he was there but that they were not allowed access to him. They revealed that the last time they visited the prison was on 25 November, 2014 but were denied access to him by the prison officials. They added that the reason for his arrest and subsequent detention at Mile Two prison is not known to them. The family said they are appealing to the head of state to help secure the release of this mentally deranged young man from prison. It could be re-called that state security agents came to Ambu’s home in Farato before the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan in 2014, looking for him. The family members said security agents told them that the younger brother’s Birth Certificate and National Identity Card, together with a set of prayer beads and pair of shoes, were found at the Banjul International Airport where the presidential aircraft is parked. He said the agents waited for him until he returned home only to pick him up. He said after ascertaining facts on him, he was eventually released by the said authorities and he later returned home. The family members said less than a week after Ambu left for Kerr Pateh to take local treatment; the state security agents came for him again but they informed them that he had left for the village. According to the family, the security agents went to his village and picked him up and later brought him to Police headquarters in Banjul. “We were told by the police that he was held there for only two days and then taken away. When we checked for him at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), we were told that he was not with them. We searched for him at the Brikama and Yundum police stations, as well as Tanka Tanka, but he was nowhere to be found,” narrated Ambu’s elder brother. They said since then they have no access to their loved one. 101 DAYS IN DETENTIONMr Mambury Njie, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, has spent 101 days in detention today. He is being held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul and was even hospitalized while in detention. Mr Njie was arrested at his residence in Brusubi on Thursday, 9 October 2014, and taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul where he has been held since. A family source indicated that they have access to him but that he is still not released or taken before a court. However, this last arrest and subsequent detention, among previous ones, came in the wake of Mr Njie’s acquittal and discharge on the two counts of economic crime and neglect of duty by Justice Mikailu Abdulahi of the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul on 3 July 2014. He is being detained beyond the 72 hours which is mandated by the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia. The family source said the reason for his arrest and long detention is still not known to them, adding that they are calling on the authorities to release their loved one.   144 DAYS IN DETENTIONMr Seedy Jaiteh, a former Human Resource Director of Gamcel, is still under detention at Mile II prison for 144 days without court appearance, bail or release since on 27 August, 2014. According to family sources, men in plain clothes believed to be state security agents, picked him up from his residence in Manjai Kunda on 27 August, 2014, at about mid-night and whisked him away to an unknown destination. The men in plain clothes led Mr. Jaiteh in a waiting black tinted glass vehicle without registration number, a family source indicated. However, on Thursday, 28 August 2014, family members visited the NIA, the Police and NDEA but were told that Mr. Jaiteh was not in custody in any of the three places. During their searching, according to the source, he was eventually traced at the NIA headquarters in Banjul and that the family was initially allowed to be taking food to him but this was stopped on 2 September 2014. The source has indicated that the family has got information that their loved one is being held at Mile II prison, but that they could not have access to him. The fifty two year old man is said to have two wives and a child. 245 DAYS IN DETENTIONLieutenant Colonel Solo Bojang, the erstwhile Commander of the State Guards in Kanilai who was also former manager of the Kanilai Family Farms (KFF), is still under detention for 245 after being acquitted and discharged by the Brikama Magistrates’ Court on 12 May 2014. Family sources say that immediately after his release, he was seen being escorted out of the courtroom by men in plain clothes and whisked away to an unknown destination, since then he has not returned home. Lt. Col. Bojang was tried for four counts i.e. Abuse of office, False information, Conspiracy and Theft and was acquitted on three counts, but convicted on the false information charge and fined D50, 000, a fine that was paid, according to the family. The family is still calling on the state to help in ensuring the release of their breadwinner as they are going through very difficult times and are now desperate to see him. MORE THAN TWO YEARS IN DETENTION NOWMr. Momodou Sowe, a former Protocol Officer at the State House in Banjul, also a native of New Yundum village in the West Coast Region, who was arrested and detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on 3 December, 2012 is still not released. His family has filed a case at the high court in pursuit of his release. The matter is now before the court. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS NOW: Chief Ebrima Manneh, a Former State House Senior Reporter and Crime Watch Columnist of the Daily Observer, was picked up by security agents at his workplace in Bakau on 26 July 2006. Since then he has never been seen by his family members. The incident occurred immediately after the African Union Summit hosted by The Gambia. The father of Chief Manneh, who appeared desperate, said he had visited all the known security detention centres around the country without any trace of his son and had also approached personalities such as the then NIA Director General, Mr Harry Sambou; the then IGP, Mr. Ousman Sonko; the then State House Imam, Fatty and the Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy to help in the efforts to trace Chief Manneh, but to no avail. They conclude by calling the state to mount an investigation on their loved one, because they were very much traumatized about the disappearance of their breadwinner. The Media Foundation for West Africa had filed a case for the release of Chief Manneh at the Community Court of West Africa and the court ordered the Gambian state to release Chief Manneh and pay him compensation of $100,000 for unlawful detention. The response of the government after the judgment of the court is that they do not have Chief Manneh in their custody.   DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 599 DAYS: Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, are two Gambian – US citizens who went missing on 22 June 2013 in Brusubi while on holidays in the Gambia. On the continued disappearance of the two US citizens in The Gambia since the middle of last year, the new Charge d’Affaires said it is the duty of the American government to protect American citizens wherever they are. “As far as I know they were picked up and disappeared and we have asked the Gambia government to investigate,” he said. He disclosed that they have even offered the services of the FBI to help in locating these two US citizens but the Gambia government has still not responded positively to their request. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: Mr. Lamin Kanyi (alias Kanyiba Kanyi), a native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East of the West Coast Region (WCR) and a former employee of the Christian Children Fund, (now Child Fund The Gambia), was abducted in the Gambia on 18th September 2006 by men in plain clothes believed to be security agents. His whereabouts are still not known to his family. According to family sources, Kanyiba was abducted around 9:00pm by three men who demanded to talk to him outside and that Kanyiba asked them to identify themselves and their mission which they refused to disclose. “The men in plain clothes then called a taxi driver who was some metres away from the scene. Within a twinkle of an eye, the taxi driver arrived and Kanyiba was forcefully pushed into the taxi and then whisked away in full view of his family, leaving the wife and family in tears,” said a family member. A family source further told Foroyaa that they have been traumatized and are seriously affected by the abduction and disappearance of their loved one since 2006. It was also revealed that at the time of Kanyiba’s forced disappearance, his wife was pregnant and later delivered a baby girl who is now 8 years old and attending school. The family said it is pleading with the head of state and his government to aid them in locating and securing the release of their loved one. It was also reported that his father died shortly after a visit to Kanilai to request for an audience with President Yahya Jammeh, but which was denied. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARSMr. Lamin Tunkara, a native of Kinteh-Kunda Marong Kunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), was reportedly arrested on 21st July, 2005, by a combined team, comprising the CID (police), NIA agents and plain clothes officers, behind Albert Market in Banjul. The family said his house in Tallinding was ransacked by the said security agents who confiscated foreign denominations – CFA, US Dollars, Euros and Dalasi. The family also said Mr. Tunkara was detained at the Police headquarters in Banjul for few days and later at the Kairaba Police Station. His family said while in detention, he was accused of being an agent facilitating the journey of nationals through the “back way to Spain.” He was last seen at Kairaba Police Station and up till now family members have no clue of his whereabouts. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARSMrs. Masireh Jammeh, a former employee at the State House in Banjul and also a native of Kanilai, is still missing since July, 15th 2005. The family said since then they have not seen or heard from her and do not also know where she is being held. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: Three close friends, Alhagie Momodou Lamin Nyassi, ex-Chief of Foni Kansala District, Ndongo Mboob and Alhagie Buba Sanyang, all natives of Bwiam village in the West Coast Region, went missing and never returned home since their arrest by men in plain clothes in a blue numberless tinted glass vehicle in 2006. According to sources, the former chief of Foni Kansala was arrested by plain clothes agents on Tuesday evening, 4th April, 2006, whilst conveying his friend, Ndongo Mboob, who visited his house. The relatives of the disappeared persons told this reporter that they are traumatized and desperate to see their loved ones. According to them, they have visited all security detention centres in The Gambia, including Mile II Central Prisons, Janjangbureh Prison, NIA detention centre in Banjul and the Police headquarters, but that all these efforts proved futile. Alhagie Buba Sanyang (alias Bubai), was also picked up from his house on the same day by 3 plain clothes officers who informed him that he was wanted. The family said Bubai had just finished performing ‘maghrib’ prayer when the men came for him. They said Bubai at that juncture handed over his mobile phones to his wife, and then the men whisked him away. The family added that up to date they have not seen or heard from him. DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS: Jasarja Kujabi, of Dobong village, in the Foni Kansala District, went missing since Wednesday, 27th of July, 2005, after his house was ransacked by three plain clothes officers in a numberless Nissan 4 wheel vehicle with tinted glasses. Family sources told Foroyaa that they have not seen or heard from him since his disappearance in 2005. According to the family, Mr Kujabi was picked up from his farm and then taken to his house for him to change his clothes. The source said he told his family that he is going to answer but that they should not be bothered and that he was later whisked away. (photo of Jisaja) DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS – The source further revealed that Haruna Jammeh, also went missing in the same evening, as he boarded the same vehicle that came to arrest Jisarja. Since then they are nowhere to be seen or heard.]]>

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