Assistant commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh testifies in NIA trial.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Abdoulie Sanneh, assistant commissioner of police in charge of criminal investigations at the Police Headquarters in Banjul yesterday, Tuesday 7th November, 2017, testified as the 3rd prosecution witness in the ongoing criminal trial involving the state against the nine embattled former officials of the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The nine accused persons: Yankuba Badjie, Richards Loiuse Leese Gomez, Sheihk Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansaray, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang are standing trial on 26 counts charge of conspiracy to commit felony, abduction, murder, assault causing grievous bodily harm, making false documents without authority amongst others.

Testifying before the court, commissioner Sanneh recalled that on the 14th April, 2016, he was stationed at the Serekunda Police Station and between 14:30 hours and 16:30 hours he received a call from the Regional Commissioner Kebba Bojang that some people gathered at Westfield in the Kanifing Municipality holding banners with slogan: “We need electoral reforms.”

The witness said he spoke to the officer commanding Westfield area, Momodou Sowe for him to organise a taskforce, which the officer did and they headed for Westfield.

Commissioner Sanneh further said upon arrival, he found a group of people holding banner with a slogan: “We need proper political reform” and as he being a senior police officer, he tried to force himself through the crowd so as to identify the ring leader.

The witness revealed he approached Solo Sandeng who called him in the middle of the crowd, noting that the atmosphere was chaotic at the time as people were shouting and chanting ‘this is our right we need change.’

The witness further revealed that when he asked Solo Sandeng what was the reason for gathering there, Solo Sandeng replied that they were not there to cause any problem but they only wanted change in the area of the rule of law, single majority and the term of office.

At this juncture, Commissioner Sanneh said he asked him if he had a permit to hold the alleged protest, but some people in the crowd retorted that they didn’t need a permit but it is their right.

The witness said as he approached Solo Sandeng and told him that he wanted to have a word with him and as Solo Sandeng followed him, some people in the crowd held Solo Sandeng, saying that he was not going anywhere.

The witness averred that as there was push-and-pull, he decided to withdraw from the crowd and then called the regional commissioner and gave him feedback.

He informed the court that whilst he was still around the area, he saw a police truck filled with some officers of the PIU from the Kanifing PIU camp arrived at the scene, alighted from the truck and started arresting people.

The witness said he was about to be arrested but a junior police officer identified him, adding that he was not wearing a police uniform at the time.

The witness revealed that the atmosphere was horrible as the PIU officers were howling the arrestees into the police truck like stones and were taken to the PIU camp in Kanifing.

Upon arrival at the PIU camp, he found all the detainees seated on a floor at the main hall and their mobile phones taking away from them and placed inside a bucket and the PIU officers were told that they were waiting for the arrival of the security chiefs.

The witness told the court that whilst there, one of the detainees called him, saying Officer Sanneh and requested that he gives him his phone to call his family that he had been arrested.

The witness told the court that he obliged and a similar request was then made by Solo Sandeng and he again obliged the request, adding that Solo Sandeng further told him that he had D5,000 with him and that he had a programme and now that he was arrested he didn’t know where he was going.

The witness narrated that Solo Sandeng gave him D3,500 and asked him to give it to his brother at the Police Maintenance Team in Kanifing.

Assistant Commissioner Sanneh explained that few moments later, the security chiefs arrived, namely the former IGP, Yankuba Sonko, Famara Jallow, Yankuba Badjie, the 1st accused and some other senior police officers he couldn’t remember.

The witness told the court that the former IGP, Yankuba Sonko asked him to brief him as to what transpired as he was the first person who had an encounter with the crowd.

The witness revealed after the briefing session with the security chiefs he returned to the hall and met officials from the Criminal Record Office taking photographs of the detainees.

The witness said the 1st accused, Yankuba Badjie instructed that five of the detainees should be identified and Solo Sandeng, Nogho Njie and Modou Ngum were identified but Kafu Bayo and Ebrima Jabang were later identified by an official of the defunct NIA.

Assistant Commissioner Sanneh told the court that thereafter, the 1st accused instructed that the five be put on board two white tinted glass pick-up vans and taken to the NIA Headquarters in Banjul, adding that the 1st accused instructed that the remaining 25 detainees to be taken to Mile 2 Prison.

The witness further told the court that 29 people were arrested at Westfield and one was arrested at Abuko, noting that he compiled the list of all the thirty detainees.

Assistant Commissioner Sanneh testified that he travelled to the USA on the 20th April, 2016, six days after the alleged incident, but he made statement on the 3rd August, 2017.

The witness informed the court that since the 14th April, 2016, when he saw Solo Sandeng, he had not set his eyes on him.

Meanwhile, after the witness finished his testimony, the 1st accused person was asked if he would proceed to cross examined the witness since his legal counsel, E.E. Chime and C. Mene were not in court.

At this juncture, the lead counsel A.A.B. Gaye for the prosecution applied that the matter be adjourned for the interest of justice since the accused persons’ lawyers were not in court and submitted that the court should be informed whether the two lawyers are still representing the accused person or they are withdrawing their representation.

Lawyer A.A.B. Gaye, however, urged that the court issue a hearing notice to the two lawyers and the matter was adjourned to the 13 and 14 November, 2017, for cross examination of the 3rd Witness.

Author: Bruce Asemota