United Democratic Party (UDP) Secretary General and former vice-president,
A.N.M. Ousainou Darboe, has said that UDP supporters were persistently harassed
by both the security operatives and AFPRC/APRC supporters since the formation
of the party until when Jammeh government fell from grace in December, 2016.
Ousainou Darboe made this assertion last week whilst testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise.
Darboe cited several instances where UDP supporters were intimidated, brutalised, tortured and harassed by government security operatives and supporters of the then ruling APRC.
Darboe cited amongst others his trip to Botswana where he met Yahya Jammeh in a conference and upon his return, his supporters were prevented from entering the Banjul International airport to welcome him.
He explained that the then Deputy Inspector General of Police Sankung Badjie came to his residence to warn him not to allow anyone to drum in his house on the day he returned from Botswana.
He further explained that Sankung Badjie’s mission was to see opposition party suffer, essentially the UDP.
Darboe told the Commission how his supporters were harassed and intimidated by APRC Supporters in the 2001 tour of the provinces.
He told the Commission how the UDP convoy was attacked at Chamoi Bridge in the Upper River Region by supporters of APRC, the eventual arrest of Aissatou Sowe and others and handed over to Basse police but the latter refused to take any action against them.
Darboe disclosed that the UDP entourage was escorted to Basse Police Station where they were held hostage until some officers of the Gambia Police led by Jai Sowe, the then CMC arrived from Banjul.
He further disclosed that about 100 UDP supporters including himself were alleged to have killed Alieu Njie, APRC supporter and were charged with murder and arraigned before Magistrate Borry S. Touray at Basse Magistrate’s Court who transferred the matter to the High Court in Banjul.
Darboe said their bail condition was perfected at the High Court, noting that he was the reason or target for the criminal amendment bill that repealed the granting of bail for suspects charged with murder.
He further said that they were acquitted and discharged by Justice Tahir of the High Court after he upheld the defence case led by senior counsel, Antouman A.B. Gaye on a no case to answer submission.
Darboe stated that APRC supporters usually go out with instruments like pick-axes, cutlasses and spades amongst others and had always advised his supporters to be law abiding and never to carry any instruments with them.
He further stated that a Gambia government vehicle was used by APRC supporters in ambushing the UDP entourage in Basse.
Darboe pointed out that during the 2001 presidential election campaign, Doudou Sanneh, the GRTS correspondent attached to the UDP campaign trail was dismissed for his accurate and factual reporting of UDP events and replaced by another correspondent who was controlled and censored by Jammeh.
He revealed that the Jammeh government was interfering with GRTS not to convey UDP message to the Gambian people.
The UDP leader told the Commission that between 2000 and 2006, supporters of UDP like Tata Camara from Janjanbureh and Shyngle Nyassi were arrested and taken to NIA headquarters in Banjul.
Darboe said he was also arrested in 2003 and it was during that arrest that he lost his diary where he diarised most of the political events of UDP since its inception.
He noted that several UDP supporters were arrested and tortured by security agents, citing supporters like Kunda Camara, a female UDP supporter, Kanyinba Kanyi, youth leader from Kombo East, West Coast Region.
He explained that Kanyinba Kanyi was arrested on the 18th September, 2006 and taken to NIA after Jammeh government felt and had the suspicion that he had gone to spy on APRC supporters who were holding a meeting at Pirang.
Darboe further explained that the modus operandi of the NIA had always been to deny being in custody of detainees, citing the cases of Kanyinba Kanyi, Shyngle Nyassi and host of others.
Darboe claimed that State lawyers at the Attorney General’s Chambers were also complicit as they always swear to affidavits in aiding and abetting the State.
He revealed that the late Solo Sandeng was constantly following the detention of Ousman Jatta alias Rambo when he was detained until he was seen in Fatoto Police Station.
“We hold the government responsible for the presumed death of Kanyinba Kanyi who disappeared in the hands of the agents of Yahya Jammeh,” he stated
He cited UDP meetings held at Tanji and Mediana and claimed the APRC used the security machinery to harass UDP supporters.
Ousainou Darboe revealed that one Modou Bah, a photographer at the film unit was so powerful that he could fire civil servants. Darboe described the Yahya Jammeh government as the worst government on the globe given the size of The Gambia.
Darboe indicated that people who did not support Yahya Jammeh were regarded as bad citizens and enemies of the state. He cited journalists, religious leaders and opposition party supporters especially the UDP as examples.
“Jammeh would tell you to jump and the person would be thinking how high he/she would jump; it is in the best interest of Gambian people not to deify any person,” he said.
Darboe pointed out that the United Democratic Party (UDP) has got a lot of young people who can take leadership positions of the party. He advised Gambians to be committed to the never again slogan so that Gambia would not have a repeat of Yahya Jammeh type of 22 years of government again.