By Yankuba Jallow
A former soldier, now a policeman who admitted being a member of the ‘Junglers’ squad, has denied having participated in any of their tortures and killings.
“I have never been involved in any killings or torture,” the witness said.
Sub-Inspector Lamin Badjie of the Gambia Police Force (GPF) appeared on Tuesday, 6th August 2019 before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) to testify about his involvement as a member of the ‘Junglers’ squad.
He told the Commission the soldiers did not trust them because they came from a different security force. He added that they were not informed about operations because Nuha Badjie, the leader of the ‘Junglers’ squad did not trust them. Witness Badjie said the ‘Junglers’ squad was large and there were some people who told him that they have never been involved in any of the ‘Junglers’ operations because they weren’t trusted.
Badjie was a policeman who was moved to the defense force under different units before finally becoming a member of the Patrol Team responsible for patrolling the border. He said he joined the Patrol Team of the State Guard in 2012.
According to Badjie, he was a member of the Patrol Team and not the ‘Junglers’ because he has not done any training as regards to the operations of the ‘junglers’.
“I was a member of the Patrol Team and I did not do any ‘Junglers’ training,” he said.
“What was the role of the Patrol Team?” asked Sagar T. Jahateh, a Counsel to the Commission.
“I cannot say their role at this stage because I was only told that I will be an intelligence officer for the Patrol Team,” he said.
He added that when he inquired about the ‘Junglers’ from one of his Patrol Team members, he was told that the name ‘Junglers’ was given to a particular training that they (the soldiers) underwent, adding that at this time, he was a police officer. He said he joined the Gambia Police Force on the 12th December 2004.
Move to State House
He said he was called by his Officer Commanding at the Brikama Police Station to report to Kanifing adding that before they left for State House, they were camped at the Kanifing Police Intervention Unit (PIU) Headquarters. He said they were about 40 personnel gathered at the PIU headquarters but it was himself, Inspector Momodou I. Busso and Sergeant Lamin Sambou who were taken from the lot to be taken to the State House. At this time, he said he was having the rank of First Class.
At the State House
He said initially, when he and his two colleagues were oriented on how to use a certain weapon, they were attached to the Delta Platoon under the State Guard, adding that at the time, late Lamin Sanneh was the commander of the State Guard. He said he was at the State Guard from 2010 to 2016. He said in 2012, he was a Sergeant in the army and it was in the same year, they were moved to the Patrol Team. He said their move to the Patrol Team came about when he together with two of his colleagues – Busso and Sambou, were called by General Saul Badjie who informed them that they were now moved to the Patrol Team as intelligence officers for the Patrol Team.
“I have never done any training as an intelligence officer,” he said.
He said weeks later, they were called by Major Nuha Badjie for an introduction about their work and they all promised that they wouldn’t betray them. He said the meeting with Nuha Badjie at Kololi Tavern, was attended by Lieutenant Michael Jatta, Omar Jallow (alias Oya), Warrant Officer Class 2 Busso, Staff Sergeant Lamin Sambou, Lieutenant Michael Correa, Sergeant Amadou Badjie, Corporal Saikou Jarju, Pa Sanneh, Malick Manga, Warrant Officer Class 2 Fansu Nyabally and others including civilians.
He said on that day, he and his two colleagues were issued Gamcel sim cards to call each other for free.
He told the TRRC that the Patrol Team was answerable to General Saul Badjie, adding that he believes that General Badjie was directly answerable to Yahya Jammeh, the ex-President.
“I met General Badjie only once and in that meeting, he told us that he acts only under the instruction of the President and that is why I believe that he was answerable to Yahya Jammeh, the then President,” the witness noted.
He said whatever information that comes to him used to come through his colleague police officers, Busso and Sambou. He adduced that some of his Patrol Team members did not have trust in him because they were military men and he was a police.
He said the ‘Junglers’ and the Patrol Team are two distinct groups, adding that the ‘Junglers’ was the larger group.
Killing of 9 Mile Inmates
He said in August 201, he underwent training in Kanilai and while doing the training, he was told by Fansu Nyabally that they have a mission to carry out in Kombo although he was not told what the mission was about. He said they left Kanilai that night and came to Banjul and alighted around Mile II around at 10 pm. He added that he came through Captain Momodou Jarju’s vehicle together with Fansu Nyabally and Busso. He said while standing outside Mile II, Solo Bojang informed them that they were transacting some documents and as soon as the process is completed, they will be signaled to go inside Mile II.
He said he was not briefed the purpose of the mission until they were assembled outside Mile II and addressed by Solo Bojang who told them that there were some inmates who were to be executed.
He said when they went into Mile II, they met Ousman Sonko an ex-Minister of Interior, Director of Prisons Services, General Saul Badjie, Solo Bojang, Bora Colley, the then Minister of Justice and other security heads among other personalities. He said among the 9 inmates, one was a woman adding that the hands of inmates were cuffed and their legs were shackled. He said the 9 inmates were put into two vehicles, one belonging to Solo Bojang and the other belonging to Captain Momodou Jarju. He said he drove the vehicle belonging to Landing Badjie and he was at the back of the convoy. He said the inmates were killed at the Lance Corporal Bojang’s Range in Brikama. He said when he reached the range, when he asked Amadou Badjie about the mission; Badjie said the mission was completed – meaning they have already executed the inmates.
He detailed that the same group who were at Mile II were the same people who witnessed the execution of the inmates.
He said after the execution, Solo Bojang led the group to a village inside the Casamance Region where he commanded Nuha Badjie to call on his men (the ‘Junglers’) to bring down the corpses of the inmates.
“I was a sentry man and I saw them disposed the bodies of the inmates,” he said.
He said later, he went and met them standing at an old well where the bodies of the inmates were lying open. He said he went there to take the shoes of the corpses and he met Solo Bojang performing incantation on the dead bodies.
“When I arrived there, Solo Bojang asked me to go back to the vehicle. I don’t know what eventually happened to the corpses,” the witness said.
He said after the exercise, Solo Bojang addressed them that the operation was a matter of the State which will be announced over the radio and television – they shouldn’t fear, adding that they were warned not to divulge the informationm; to remain silent over whatever that happened in the operation.
He said he came to know how these inmates were killed through ‘Jungler’ Fansu Nyabally who told him they were killed using plastic bags over their heads and suffocated them through throttling until they eventually pass off.
The witness said a month after the execution of the death row inmates; he was called by Nuha Badjie who gave him D5000. He said in another instance, he was given D5000 by his colleague police officer, Sambou.
“Nuha Badjie told me that the money came from Yahya Jammeh for us to share,” he said.
The witness said he believes that the money was meant to shut his mouth and not to expose what happened. He said he has been in the Patrol Team for long and he has not received any money from the ex-President until after the execution of the death row inmates.
“Nuha Badjie told me it was Yahya Jammeh who gave me money. I believe it was done to ensure that I shut up,” he said.
About Ndure Cham
He said the former army chief was detained at the NIA training school incommunicado without food and water, adding that he never knew it was Ndour Cham that he was guarding. The witness said it was not until he was also arrested and detained in the same cell where Ndour Cham was interned that he came to know it was Ndour Cham that he was guarding through Amadou Badjie who disclosed the information to them.
About His Detention
He said he was detained for 16 months from 23rd February 2017 to 23rd June 2018 by the current government without telling him the reason for his arrest. He said sometimes, his family members were not allowed access to see him. All through his detention, he was held at five different cells. He said after his release, he served the army briefly and applied for reinstatement to the police which was successful.
Badjie said he was born in Kassa Kunda in the Kombo Central District. After completing his schooling in 2003, he went to the NYSS and did a course in auto-mechaninc for about 7 months and he couldn’t proceed owing to sponsorship breakdown and as such he joined the Gambia Police Force. He did his recruitment training from December 2004 to March 2005 and was deployed to the Kanifing Police Intervention Unit with the rank of police constable. In 2005, he said he was promoted to First Class Rank and was promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2010.
He said he did several VIP protection trainings and training in anti-terrorism among other trainings.