By Yankuba Jallowa
Ensa Badjie, a former Inspector General of Police (IGP) has on Wednesday, 13th November explained how Yahya Jammeh’s squad of witch – hunters invaded the Police headquarters.
Badjie alias Jesus was the IGP at the time the witch – hunting activities were ongoing in the country. These witch – hunters dubbed as marabouts were brought here by Yahya Jammeh, a former President of The Gambia. The witch – hunters were engaged in several human rights violations and this is what the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is probing to ensure that such inhumane activities do not repeat itself again in The Gambia with the slogan “Never Again”.
Badjie said a day before the witch – hunters came to the police headquarters, he got information that they went to the army barracks and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to perform their. He said he was told that the marabouts used to wash people suffering from some illnesses.
The 49 – year – old said he forgot the date and day when the witch – hunters invaded the police headquarters, but said it was in 2009 adding that they arrived after 10 am.
“I was called by former President Yahya Jammeh personally and told me Solo Bojang was coming with the marabouts who were Fulamen. He told me that all of us (the police) should comply and anyone who fails to comply should be dismissed from the services. I was warned strictly because he knew that I don’t act on all of his orders,” Badjie said.
The Sibanor born said Yahya Jammeh told him “IG, your head will roll if you don’t comply and anybody who doesn’t comply should be sacked.”
He said 10 to 15 minutes after his telephone conversation with former President Jammeh, Solo Bojang arrived with some armed soldiers and they rushed to his office.
“Solo climbed up and knocked the office heavily. He came with armed soldiers and some plain clothes officers. When he opened my door, I saw some armed PIU officers and some green – green boys,” Badjie said, adding that soldiers shielded the police headquarters entrance.
He said he was informed by Major Solo Bojang that they came to perform some works. Badjie said he was instructed by the Fulamen to stand up and they asked him to undress.
“I undressed and I was naked. The Fulamen used the mirror and looked through my body. He used the mirror and was looking at my office from corner to corner,” he said.
He said they were drumming in his office.
“I was ashamed of myself but I had no choice because we all know the system that was here. I heard him (the leader of the Fulamen) telling Solo Bojang that I have no problem and that we should move to other offices,”Badjie said.
He said his office was searched by the Fulamen. He said even though he was the IGP, he had no authority over some of the PIU personnel.
“I agree I am the IGP but there were some PIU personnel under the State House. The IGP has no authority over them. They were directly under the auspices of the office of the President. These people were not under our domain,” Badjie said.
He said as the IGP, he only attended the parade on Monday and he denied the testimony of some of the witnesses that he assembled and addressed the police officers at the police headquarters about the coming of the witch – hunters dubbed the “marabouts”.
He said after the search, he called Ken Mendy and instructed him to write down the names of all those identified as witches.
“I did so because Yahya Jammeh requested me to send him the list,” Badjie said.
He said he followed the Fulamen around the police headquarters.
“I followed them around the police headquarters because I was the IGP and I was in charge of the whole headquarters,” Badjie said.
He said some were pointed in the offices, but they weren’t many.
“They asked all of us to go down. They asked me to call all the police to come down. I instructed the RSM (Abdou Colley) to call the police to come down. I was already down with the Fulamen and Solo Bojang,” he said.
He said both ways leading to police headquarters were shielded by armed soldiers. He said when the policemen and women came; he addressed them on the instruction given to him by Yahya Jammeh.
“I told them that Yahya Jammeh said the Fulamen will be coming with Solo Bojang and we should all comply and anyone who fails to comply will be dismissed with immediate effect,” the ex-police chief said.
He said at the time he was addressing his men, Solo Bojang and the Fulamen (witch-hunters) were all standing.
“What happened was that these Fulamen came in the middle of the parade and they asked us to circle them. People circled them and they were beating their drums. They were pointing their mirrors at people and identified a few people,” Badjie said.
He said Kumba Jatta, the Deputy Commissioner for the Banjul Division was among those identified as wizards by the witch – hunters and they asked him to remove the jujus on him. Badjie added that her jujus were buried at the backside of the Licensing Unit of the police headquarters.
He said the witch – hunters sent a person to bring a goat and a red cock that they came with and the two animals were slaughtered at the police headquarters. Badjie said a hole was dug where a bottle of concussion and the two animals were buried.
He said he was called by Solo Bojang to the place where the animals were buried. He said he was asked to take oath of allegiance to former President Jammeh and the State.
“We didn’t like it but no one could deny because the person there (Solo Bojang) was Yahya Jammeh’s right hand. He was working directly for Yahya Jammeh,” Badjie said.
He said he can’t say whether all policemen and women took the oath or not because it has been long since that happened.
“It hurts us all, but no one dared to talk. We were all ashamed,” Badjie said.
He said he visited the place where the witch – hunters were lodged at Baba Jobe’s residence in Kotu.
“When I get inside the compound, I turned back because I couldn’t proceed because what I saw was very terrible. Nobody will allow your father or mother to be in that situation. They were over 50 – some were in the hall and others were outside. The condition they were in was bad such that I will never allow my mother and father to be in such condition,” Badjie said.
He said Yahya Jammeh called him at night around 2 am and he gave him the names of those identified.
He said the identified police officers went by themselves to Baba Jobe’s compound. He said a few days later, he was told that one Mustapha Ceesay refused to comply with the orders to go to Baba Jobe’s compound. He said when he told Yahya Jammeh about Ceesay’s refusal, he instructed him to dismiss him from the services. Badjie said he used his discretion and demoted him and transferred him to Fatoto. He said his decision to defy Yahya Jammeh’s order to dismiss Ceesay could have been detrimental to him if the former head of state knew about it.
“Generally, we follow Yahya Jammeh’s orders out of fear. You dare not to defy them,” he said.
He said he was told by Solo Bojang the marabouts (witch – hunters) came to remove the knowledge of witchcraft from those who have it and to cure those who were followed by them.
Arrest of Halifa Sallah
He said: “Yahya Jammeh called me to get the camcorder Halifa Sallah had that he used to record the activities of the witch – hunters.”
He said he refused to carry on the orders and delayed the execution of the Jammeh’s order to arrest Sallah. He said one week later Yahya Jammeh called him again and cautioned him to execute his orders.
“Yahya Jammeh told me if I don’t execute the orders then I will regret why my mother gave birth to me,” he said.
He said he went with the then DG NIA and went to Halifa Sallah. He said he pleaded to Halifa Sallah to with them to the NIA headquarters. He said Halifa Sallah was taken by Louise Gomez, the then Deputy Director of NIA. He said Halifa Sallah was taken to court and he learnt that the matter was withdrawn.
“I had problems with former President Yahya Jammeh on behalf of myself and on behalf of people. He does not take my advice because he takes my advice as a challenge,” Badjie said.
He said: “Yahya Jammeh was behind my arrest, prosecution and my conviction.”
He said they first tried to arrest him when he came from studies in Taiwan. He said he was told by one Antouman Saho, a former head of the marine unit of the Gambia Armed Forces that there was a rumour that senior police officers were engaged in drug peddling with one Sillah-ba Samateh. He said he was instructed to form a panel of investigators from different security services including the NIA and police. He said Pa Mbye, a former Crime Management Coordinato alleged that Charles Okeke, one Idrisu and himself (Badjie) were engaged in drug dealing.
“I know what was ongoing. I knew it was a set up because I knew they were planning to get me,” he said.
“NIA Alagie Morr and his group planned to arrest me. They used to come to my compound. I used to get information that they were planning to arrest me. They tried that for two weeks and for the third week, I was called by Louise Gomez, the Deputy Director of NIA and he told me that the DG (NIA) said Yahya Jammeh said I should be arrested and taken to Mile II,” he said.
He said at the NIA, he called the former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko and informed him about his arrest.
“My torturing started there. They cuffed my hands and put legs over them. They put a stick over it. I was bleeding. My mouth and nose were bleeding. My clothes were torn. I was hung up so that I will say I admit to the allegation and I was taken to prison (Mile II),” he said.
He said his wife, her father and her sister were arrested and detained at the NIA.
“I was not dismissed. I was not charged. I was not cautioned,” he said.
He said on the following day, he was brought to the NIA and he was issued his dismissal letter and he signed it. He said he was in a one-man cell at the maximum security wing of Mile.
He said one night he was taken out of his cell and his head was masked by two NIA agents – Bubacar Sallah and Korka Bah.
Badjie gave a detailed account of his torture and victimisation to the Commission. He said he was finally sentenced to life imprisonment and later pardonned by former President Jammeh.
About the Witness
He said he was enlisted in the Police Force in February 1989. He said he was posted at Barra until 1990 when he was returned to Banjul under the prosecution unit. He said from the prosecution, he was moved to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) where he served and was transferred to the Serrekunda Police Station still under the CID unit. He said he was the CID overseeing the whole Central River Division (now CRR). He said in 1999, he was transferred to Kotu Police Station.
He said he was the first police officer to see the student demonstrators on the 10th April 2000. He said when he saw the angry students he ran into the station and asked his colleagues to leave.
“I was wounded on my leg by the students. They throw bottle on my leg,” he said.
He said the students stoned at the station and he help rescue the female police officers some of whom were pregnant.
“I and officer pushed the fence and it fell. We asked the officers to run with their families to a nearby compound,” he said.
He said the student demonstrators vandalized his vehicle R90.
“About 16 vehicles were vandalized; their glasses were broken and the car tapes were taken away,” he said.
He said he was moved to Tallinding Police Station, then to Brikama and later brought back to Tallinding. He said he was moved to Serrekunda Police Station in 2005.
He said he went to Sudan and came back in 2006. He added that when he came back, the then Inspector General Mboob asked him to tackle the rampant armed robbery and he was made the acting officer commanding CID in Serrekunda. He told the Commission that he first arrest some people who did 45 breakings and 10 robberies. He said after this he was promoted from assistant superintendent to commissioner of police.
He said he was in a border demarcation conference in Ethopia when he was called and informed him that he was dealing with armed robbers. He said the allegation was cooked by former IGP Benedict Jammeh. He said there were people sent to arrest him at the airport on the day he arrived unfortunately, the flight was delayed. He said when he came back to the Gambia, he was called at the Police Headquarters and there was a meeting held. He said the meeting was attended by the current IGP Mamor Jobe, former CDS Lang Tombong Tamba, the then IGP Benedict Jammeh, Landing Bojang the present Assistant Inspector General of Police among others. He said a week he was moved to Brikama Police Station because former IGP Benedict Jammeh said he cannot work with him. He said at the time he was removed, he was the head of Crime Management Coordinator (CMC) and he was moved to Brikama station.
He said the allegation came about after Benedict Jammeh went to the Serrekunda Police Station and took out some arrested alleged robbers. He said B. Jammeh came with a videographer and told the buglers to incriminate him (Badjie) adding that they will be used as witnesses before the court. He said this because B. Jammeh has one day vowed to put him under trouble.
He said during those days, the policemen and women were living in fear thinking of what will happen next.
“We don’t use to sleep comfortably because we were always thinking about what will happen next. We have to follow instruction and no one dear to disobey the orders. When Executive orders come, you cannot violate them unless you leave the country. You cannot deny the orders and have your freedom,” Badjie said.
He said: “If you advise the former President Yahya Jammeh, he sees it as you are challenging him.”
He cited an example wherein he was ordered by former President Jammeh to arrest and take Brigadier Gibril Bojang to Mile II even though he was not charged and his statement wasn’t taken. He said this happened when he went to the State House together with some soldiers to plead to former President Jammeh not to prosecute him. Badjie said Gibril Bojang was alleged to have misappropriated monies of former President Jammeh who was insisting that he should be jailed. He said former President Jammeh vowed to jail him. He said when the police were investigating the matter, former President Jammeh called him and threatened to deal with him. He said he was called by Amadou Samba, a former closed associate of former President who pleaded to him to file the case before the magistrate court even though the investigation weren’t completed.
“The case was not properly investigated and the matter was taken to the court on the instruction of former President Jammeh,” he said.