By Yankuba Jallow
Ebrima Jabang of the United Democratic Party (UDP) on Wednesday the 15th May, 2018, has given testimony of how he and four others were tortured at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in the ongoing trial of nine former senior officials of NIA.
When the case was called before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Banjul High Court, Jabang the sixteenth prosecution in his evidence said on the 14th April, 2018, himself, Kafu Bayo, Modou Ngom, Ngoi Njie and Solo Sandeng went out to make some comments about the system of the country. He said the they went out (in the street) in answer to a call for the reformation of the electoral laws, the hardship the country was facing and the closure of the Senegal/Gambia border.
“We gathered at Bambo in Serrekunda to go to Westfield. We grouped together to march to Westfield, on our arrival we were intercepted by the PIU who put us in their trucks and drove us to their headquarters in Kanifing,” he said.
He said at the PIU headquarters, they were gathered in a hall and their belongings were collected from them and their names were recorded.
“We were asked to come out of the hall and when we came out, we saw a white pickup parked and we were handcuffed and put at the back of the pick-up. Kafu Bayo and I joined the same pick-up and we were driven to the NIA Headquarters in Banjul,” he said.
“I am a member of UDP but I don’t hold any office of the Party,” he said.
“Whilst at the PIU headquarters, do you recall seeing anyone apart from the names you have mentioned?” asked Counsel Combeh Gaye for the State.
“I saw the then IGP, Mr. Sonko but I cannot remember his first name, Yankuba Colley, the former Mayor of KMC, one NIA officer named Lamin Beyai; these are the three I can remember,” Jabang responded.
He added that after their names were taken down, five names were called to go out. He said the names were Solo Sandeng, Kafu Bayo, Nogoi Njie, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngom. He added that after arriving at the Agency (NIA), pictures were taken and were then taken to the security room. He narrated that he handed over his wrist watch and money at the security room and they were later led to the hall.
“Whilst we were at the hall, we heard Solo Sandeng crying and saying ‘you are killing me’. We heard Nogoi Njie also crying and saying ‘you are killing me,’ thereafter we gave our statements and we were put in a cell,” the witness said.
“Nogoi Njie and Solo Sandeng found us in the cell but they weren’t able to speak because of the pain” he said.
“Kafu Bayo was asked out of the cell. I only heard a person calling Kafu Bayo to come out but I didn’t see any person. Thereafter, I heard Kafu crying. Modou Ngom was also taken away and we also heard him crying. I was put on the table, tied from head to toe and beaten. Others were also beaten. They used abusive languages against me whilst beating me and the person who came for us came in the dark because there was no light and he was operating wisely,” he said.
He further said that after beating him, he was untied a hat that was put on his head removed. He was then taken to the hall for questioning. He added that after the questioning, he was tied again and the same hat was put on him.
“In the cell, I found Modou Ngom, Nogoi Njie, Solo Sandeng and Kafu Bayo. Solo Sandeng was later called again and he was taken away. Within seconds, they came for Nogoi Njie and three of us were left in the cell. I have never set my eyes on Solo from that time to date,” Jabang said.
“Did you see the person who took Solo Sandeng away?” asked Counsel Combeh Gaye.
“There was no light, we could not see the person. After he was taken away, we heard him crying in ‘Mandinka’ “you are killing me” and through time the cry faded away. We also heard Nogoi Njie crying,” he added.
The witness told the Court that they were kept in a cell for 14 days at the Agency and they used to lie on the floor and developed health complications from the beatings. He said he lost one of his eyes, contracted hypertension, had difficulty in passing urine and chest problems which he stated were not his problems before the 14th April, 2018.
The case was adjourned till Monday the 21st May, 2018, at 12 noon.