By Mustapha Jallow
Ousman Jammeh, ex-Deputy Minister of Agriculture in President Jammeh’s government, has clocked one year in detention at the maximum security wing in Mile Two prison without a court trial or access to his entire family members.
According to family sources, Mr Jammeh is still held at the prison and none of the family members have seen him since his detention last year. The sources add that this long incommunicado detention of their loved one has turned to a nightmare that keeps them wondering why he is not released up to date.
“When we heard that he was removed from his position it was shocking news and we were expecting to see him return home and explain to us what led to his dismissal but unfortunately we were told that he is held and the government didn’t advance any reason why he is still detained for such a long period,” a source said.
A family member said they are still calling on the authorities to release Mr Jammeh, who they describe as the breadwinner of his children and wife.
It was reported that Mr. Jammeh’s arrest came after his removal was announced on the state owned TV (GRTS) on Thursday evening, 15 October, 2015. On that same day he was held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul, where he spent 91 days incommunicado before being transferred to Mile Two Prison.
Sources indicate that he had left his home on Thursday 15 October, to attend and officiate the commemoration of World Food Day in Basse, Upper River Region (URR), but that while on his way he received a phone call from unidentified men who asked him to cancel his trip and return to attend an urgent meeting in state house. While returning he was picked up by men in plain clothes and taken away with his official vehicle to the NIA.
A source disclosed that two of his orderlies were escorted by the agents to his residence in Kanifing South where they informed family members that their loved one was under arrest. ‘‘When we were informed about the sudden arrest and detention of our breadwinner we then began to search for him and later traced him to the NIA office in Banjul. We visited the NIA on Saturday 17 October 2015 with a bowl of food, clothes and other needs but we were told by agents we met at the gate that food and other items would not be allowed in and we were also not allowed access,”the source said.
According to a family source, while still in custody at Mile Two prison in the maximum security wing on Tuesday, 21 June, they attempted another visit to him at the prison but were again denied access. “Some family members went there to appeal to the prison authorities to allow them access to see and talk to him briefly after having spent nine months in detention but they denied our request,” said the family source.