M.C. Cham narrates how he was stripped naked

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mohamadou Cadi Cham popularly known as M. C. Cham yesterday testified before the TRRC in its second session of sittings at Dunes Hotel in Kololi.

He narrated his encounter with Almamo Manneh, how Almamo Manneh inflicted terrible wounds on him, how he was stripped naked and meant to sit on a wet ground, beaten, kicked and tortured.

He told the Commission how he was subjected to routine exercise of torture and drills of mob execution.

He disclosed that there were about 46 detainees at the time including Omar Jallow alias O.J., Housaino Njie, Samba Batch Jallow, Ismaila Jawara, omar Bah and Malamin Fatty amongst others.

He also said some women were also detained with them as there was segregation between men and women, adding that the women were subjected to humiliation as they were naked before men, beaten and tortured.

He said the detainees had wounds but the long period of detention made their wounds to heal.

He said Yahya Jammeh was called several names with superlative phrases like crocodile, chairman and Bambo amongst others.

He described the condition of the detention centre as barbaric and the food woefully inadequate lacking vitamins and defecation was a problem.

He said he was the first to start taking showers when he started going to Banfo Commission of Inquiry.

He revealed that it was after six months of their detention that they were visited by the Army Commander Babucar Jatta, adding that his visit was a turning point for them and on his visit, he was selected to speak on behalf of the detainees and he highlighted the numerous problems faced by them.

He pointed out that before they were released Ousainou Darboe, the current vice-president was brought and detained there.

He told the Commission how one of the detainees who used to pray in the night was almost killed by soldiers and the subsequent visit of Imam Baba Leigh who came and advised them not to talk politics, but asked them to be of good behaviour.

Mr. Cham told the Commission that he spent over 30 months in detention and how he was placed on travel ban by the Junta.

He told the Commission his arrest and detention at the security wing of the Mile 2 Prisons, that he found Lie Conteh who was beaten and tortured. One Badjie, a former NIA director and later Sherrif Mustapha Dibba, former speaker of the National Assembly was brought there, beaten and tortured, he said.

He also told the Commission how Lawyer Antouman A.B. Gaye was brought and how he was roughed up and maltreated.

M.C. Cham told the Commission how he was taken out of the security wing cell, put in a pick-up van enroute Banjul, there he met Harry Sambou, the then DG of NIA, the maltreatment meted on a woman he named as XYZ and his release after three days of detention at the NIA.

He told the Commission he joined politics in 1961 and was among those who negotiated in the attainment of independence, the several meetings and debates held and their invitation to Marlboro House in 1964 in the United Kingdom prior to independence.

He also told the Commission the type of independence, the composition and style of government and how his side (the U.P.) wanted the monarchial government and the PPP requesting for the republican government.

He told the Commission how he changed his political allegiance from the U.P. party to the PPP in 1970 when referendum was held.

M. C. Cham testified that he knew Saiba Sighateh, the father of Edward, Peter and Dennis Sighateh, adding that Edward Sighateh’s father converted to catholism and changed his name to Gabriel Sighateh.

He told the Commission how Edward Sighateh’s father stowed away through the ship to England and got married to Edward’s mother, an Irish.

He also told the Commission how he assisted Edward Sighateh parents by providing his father with a house which they lived in on gratis and the eventual beaten of Edward Sighateh by one Baba Njie for scaling the fence.

M. C. Cham testified that Edward Sighateh’s father passed away shortly before 22nd July, 1994.

He further testified how he came to know about the coup whilst he was in Serekunda market and how he felt about the coup which he described as a setback for the country.

“I felt that we have been taken back and that it will take us more than 50 years to get back to where we were,” he said.

“Developing countries should take decisive measures when it comes to screening people into the security services” he added.

 The witness advised that anyone intending to join the services must have proper grounding.

The 82 years elder statesman told the Commission that his trouble with the Juntas started when he had an interview with the press to debunk the arguments of the juntas who accused PPP government of corruption and having done nothing for the country for their 30 years rule.

He stated that in the interview he catalogued the progress and achievement of the PPP government, adding that the army and the gendarmerie were the creation of the 1st republic.

He said he cited numerous developments in the areas of construction of roads, the ferry crossing, hospital and schools amongst other things. 

The witness revealed that his rebuttal of the juntas allegation landed him in trouble when he was picked up and taken to Banjul Police Station.

He said he was not told why he was arrested and no charge was preferred on him and was released and asked to go and advised to be of good behaviour.

He further said on his 1st arrest, a search was conducted on his premises without a search warrant, a lot of his documents and books were taken away.

He also said they never took an inventory of the things or items they took away.

He told the Commission that he felt humiliated, dehumanized and disgraced that some of those whose parents benefitted from the PPP government were behind the coup.

He averred that on his 2nd arrest, he was taken to the Police Station and was alleged to have stolen spades from the PWD at the Ministry of Works being the last ministry he held before the coup.

He said he spent a week in detention with common criminals and then released.

He disclosed that he was never served with any warrant of arrest, his belongings were taken away without proper inventory, no family visits, no lawyer was allowed and the cell was damped and filthy.

He explained that he was detained the 2nd time at the Police Station on allegation of peddling coup, adding that it was during his 2nd arrest and detention that he met Lamin Waa Juwara at the cell.

He further explained that his properties were confiscated in Banjul and Fajara whilst in detention in 1995 his wife was in cast as she had a broken leg.

He said his wives were asked out of his compound but prior to removing his wives from his properties, he was first arrested and detained.

He told the Commission that about 10 soldiers came to his residence, pointed gun at his daughter; Soma and asked her of his where about.

The witness further told the Commission that he answered and he was taken away in 4 wheel drive jeep and whisked to depot at Bakau.

He noted that Almamo Manneh was among the soldiers who came with the soldiers to arrest him and he also described Almamo Manneh as a very terrible and worst behaviour.

Source: Picture: Mohamadou Cadi Cham