Ex-Foroyaa reporter gives account of his ordeal in Jammeh’s era

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Abubacarr Saidykhan, a journalist yesterday testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise.

Mr. Saidykhan, who was onetime a reporter with the Foroyaa Newspaper told the Commission that he started as a young reporter in the Foroyaa Newspaper when the climate was hostile to journalists, the media and essentially Foroyaa Newspaper; which he said Jammeh government considered as the propaganda organ of the PDOIS.

He further told the Commission about the behaviour of the then IGP, Ensa Badjie towards him and the Foroyaa Newspaper when he attended a news conference wherein Ensa Badjie castigated him and the Foroyaa Newspaper, calling him opposition journalist.

He disclosed that Foroyaa was very critical of the AFPRC/APRC government and the outfit was sidelined by the Jammeh’s government, noting that Jammeh only considers GRTS and the Daily Observer.

Saidykhan told the Commission how two NIA officers came to Foroyaa Newspaper on 15 June, 2009 to arrest Sam Sarr, the managing editor and that whilst he was trying to document Sam Sarr’s arrest, he was also arrested and taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

The young reporter stated that at the NIA he was intimidated and asked to write a statement which he refused. He told the Commission that at the NIA headquarters, he met Pa Modou Faal, Pap Saine, Ebrima Sawaneh, Sarata Jabbie Dibba, a nursing mother and a Point Newspaper reporter, Sam Sarr and Emil Touray, the then president of the Gambia Press Union.

He further told the Commission that they were charged with sedition and eventually arraigned before Kanifing Magistrate’s Court presided over by the then magistrate Naaceesay Sallah-Wadda who remanded them to prison custody where they spent three days.

He said the prison condition was deplorable, citing the bathroom, toilet facility and the quality of food.

He stated that they were granted bail on their 2nd appearance before Magistrate N.S. Wadda and the matter was transferred to the High Court presided over by Justice Joseph Wowo, who was later replaced with Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle.

He explained that Justice Fagbenle discharged him after a no case to answer submission was upheld in his favour and continued the trial of the remaining 6 suspects who were later convicted and sentenced to 2 years jail term.

Abubacarr Saidykhan told the Commission that he ran into trouble again with Jammeh’s government when he started investigating the government on the victims of witchcraft. He told the Commission that when he heard about the execution of the 9 death roll inmates, he wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police, requesting for a permit to protest against their execution by Jammeh government.

He revealed that he was arrested with Babucar Ceesay, a colleague at the Banjul Police Station and then taken to separate police stations in the Kombos.

The witness said on 12 October, 2012, he was called by the then attorney general and minister of Justice, Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh and then solicitor general and legal secretary, Pa Harry Jammeh who advised them to go and pursue their studies.

Saidykhan further said on 25 October, 2012, whilst in the GPU office checking his emails, he saw a threatening message in his inbox from an account claiming to be ‘Mofala Jato’ and the subject was Tobaski warning.

The witness revealed that he contacted Babucarr Ceesay who also confirmed that he received same message in his email.

Saidykhan told the Commission that after receipt of the death threat he left the country on 16 November, 2012 for Senegal where he spent 5 years in exile.

Author: Bruce Asemota
Source: Picture: Abubacarr Saidykhan