UDP militant explains encounter with NIA

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A United Democratic Party (UDP) member, Lamin Jobe, yesterday testified before the TRRC, giving account of how operatives of the defunct NIA arrested and tortured him for supporting UDP.

Jobe who was born in Banjul and worked with The Gambia Ports Authority, stated that prior to his arrest, he was involved in politics in 1996 when the UDP was formed and even attended their rallies in 2002 at Federal street.

He testified that he was part of the organising committee of the rally and as they were arranging the chairs, a group of PIU officers arrived. “They were between 20 and 24, it was a full pack and they told me that they were instructed from State House to cancel the UDP rally.”

According to him he said they had a permit from the police but the PIU insisted that the rally won’t hold and there was a push and pull.

“We said to them that the meeting wouldn’t be cancelled and we were ready to die,” said Jobe.

Mr. Jobe recollected that the sergeant that was next to the sub inspector was armed and they fought with them and in that process, they pelted stones at them.

He alleged that a PIU officer beat him with a baton and stamped on his entire body and later threw him into the pick-up. He added that prior to that the man with the AK-47 stood over him and pointed the gun at him.

“I was arrested with Fabakary Sonko from Essau and five others and I have numerous physical injuries on my body and usually feel some pain, especially during the cold season.”

Mr. Jobe alleged that he had several injuries on his left hand and also bled as a result of the torture; adding that his colleagues were also severely tortured by the PIU officers.

Describing the nature of the cell, the witness said that it was smelly with mosquitoes and there were 50 people in the cell and he spent eight nights there without sleeping. He added that there was no ventilation because the police took a block and sealed one of the windows.

He said he was getting food from his home because the food from the police was not edible during his detention.

Mr. Jobe alleged that they were tortured while in the cell but could not tell who exactly tortured them as the men wore mask. He added that they were tortured for all the eight nights.

According to him, they were told by the PIU officers that it was because of UDP that there was no peace in The Gambia. However, he told them that Yahya Jammeh must be opposed.

He said they were subsequently granted bail but were never taken to court.

Asked whether he made his membership to the UDP public, he responded in the affirmative, saying: “There is nothing to hide on that and all Gambians should be proud to disclose the party they belong.”

At this juncture, Counsel Faal read the rules governing public service that public servants are not allowed to disclose the party they are affiliated with and told the witness that by revealing his party he has violated the laws, he responded in the positive.

The General Orders (GO’s), Code of Conduct and Rules of Public Servants were tendered and admitted in evidence.

Mr. Jobe alleged that those that refused to wear Jammeh’s T-shirts would be listed in a blacklist which is subsequently handed over to the managing director of GPA where he was working. He added that that Modou Lamin Gibba hated him because he was in opposition.

On 30 September, 2011, he said something happened which warranted him to have a meeting with Mr. Gibba. He said while he was in the Johe Ferry coming from Barra, one security officer, Jobarteh told him he was waiting for him (Jobe) at the Banjul Ferry Terminal and he (Jobarteh) said it was Modou Lamin Gibba who had asked him (Jobe) to report to his office, which he did.

Upon arrival at Gibba’s office, Mr. Gibba told him that he had received several complaints about him that if Ousainou Darboe is crossing, he used to take him to Captain Bridge and give him a VIP treatment, to which he responded positively.

He said he told Gibba that Ousainou was a Gambian and deserved such treatments because Darboe was his party leader.

At this juncture, Gibba pulled out a piece of paper and started writing and then told him that he would be victimised. While standing by the ram of the ferry, three men in suits approached him. According to him, he thought they were people that wanted to cross.

“However, the men later confronted me and said they wanted to see me and I them followed them out of the terminal.”

He testified that the men had a pick-up parked at Hill Street and upon reaching there, they told him that they were NIA officers and all of a sudden his mind reflected directly on what Gibba told him.

“I was inside and I was sandwich and as they reached at Buckle Street, they covered my face with two plastic bags and whisked me away to the NIA. And upon arrival, I met Foday Barry who was their boss. He instructed them to conduct a search on me, which they did and found my UDP membership card in my wallet.”

The witness informed the Commission that he was later taken to a room where he found 4 seemingly drunk men and as he was about to sit down, one of them kicked the chair and he fell down.

“After I fell down, they asked me to undress and I was left with only my underwear and they started beating me with truncheons. I started to bleed and they told me to stretch my legs and they put out cigarette on my legs,” he emotionally expounded.

He further explained that the NIA took water from the freezer and poured it on the tiles of the cell and asked to lie down, which eventually led to him contract pneumonia. He said they electrocuted him on his private part leading his loss of manhood.

“I had only one daughter and I named her after my sister.”

Mr. Jobe blamed Mr. Foday Barry for all what happened to him at the NIA; adding that he was detained by the NIA for two months without charge.

Author: Pa Modou Cham