Witness says vultures nearly devour them at detention centre at Fajara Barracks

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Batch Samba Jallow, on Monday told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission chaired by Lamin Sise that he suffered gross violation of his rights under ex-president, Yahya Jammeh’s government.

He told the Commission his experience on a particular day when some vultures invaded their detention centre in an attempt to eat them as a result of the terrible stench from there.

The witness revealed that this happened when he was eventually transferred from Banbadinka cell at the NIA headquarters to Kotu Police Station on board a garbage truck.

After being detained for three days at Kotu Police Station, he was taken to Fajara Barracks and detained in a dilapidated structure which housed about 72 people.

The witness said he met so many politicians and ministers in the PPP government there namely; Omar Jallow alias O.J., Alhagie Kebba Saidykhan, M.C. Cham, Yahya Darboe, Ismaila Jawara, Mustapha Ceesay, Sering Faye, Mariama Ceesay, Mama Jawara, Ousainou Njie and Ousainou Darboe, the current Vice-President amongst others.

 He said they lay on bare floor, adding the condition of the detention centre was terrible. He said that about 18 people were given a basin of food and a gallon of water.

He also informed the Commission another experience he had at the facility when owl and maggots invaded them.

He told the Commission that the vultures were chased away by the soldiers who were firing gun shots to scare them.

The witness disclosed that he was present when the International Red Cross officials visited them which became a turning point for the detainees.

Batch Samba Jallow hails from Malikunda in the Central River Region and was the headmaster of Makumbaya Primary school until he was arrested after the coup d-état in 1994.

The witness disclosed that he knows Captain Bojang who was always frequenting his school asking him to join the APRC and serve as their candidate in his area.

The witness further disclosed that his trouble with Jammeh government started when he declined the offer and on the 12th October, 1995, when four officials of the NIA; Foday Barry, Daba Marena, Baba Saho and Musa Kinteh broke his door and met him in his bed with his wife at about 4:00 a.m. in his residence in Bakoteh.

The witness said the four dragged him from his bedroom in the presence of his wife and two children to a waiting van parked outside his compound.

He further said as he was forcefully dragged naked, given slaps, kicked and insulted in the presence of his children.

He told the Commission that he was hit with a pistol on his cheek by Baba Saho, resulting to the removal of one of his teeth.

The witness further told the Commission that after they dragged him to the gate of his compound, Baba Saho and Daba Marena gave him kicks on his ribs and back.

He told the Commission that as he tried to inquire as to what he has done they told him that he would know when he gets to the NIA office; and whilst inside the vehicle he was then informed that he was planning to bring Americans soldiers to come and kill Gambians.

He told the Commission that he denied the allegation, adding that whilst sand-wished between the officers, he was being squeezed and they stamped their shoes on his feet.

He said the abductors informed him that they work for the president that they will deal with anybody who is not prepared to work with him.

At the NIA headquarters, he said he was seated in a wooden arm chair and given a slap when he initially refused to remove his clothes.  He said that Foday Barry squeezed his neck and forcefully undressed him.

He revealed that his hands and legs were tied with cables and he was electrocuted all over his body starting from his hands, his genitals, accompanied by beatings, whilst Daba Marena was supervising the exercise.

He told the Commission that Baba Saho brought a stone and threatened him that when they are ready with him he would never be a man again, thereafter he was beaten by the stone on his penis.

He pointed out that they electrocuted him on his mouth, genitals, nose, toes, fingers, raining insults on him and asking him questions simultaneously.

He showed the Commission his toes and left hand small finger that are dead.

At this juncture the witness started sobbing with tears running from his eyes as he remain speechless, but was, however, given ten minutes to recuperate and put himself together.

After 10 minutes break, the witness resumed his testimony and informed the court that he was later transferred to Banbadinka cell which he described as the worst place he has ever been on earth.

He said Banbadinka is slippery with blood and completely dark and whilst there he was made to lie on the floor with his hands and legs tied and dragged along the broken bottle particles and pieces of glass filed floor.

He explained that Mendy stamped his foot on his left hand – small finger and he subsequently lost that finger as it got damaged; which was later replaced by a plastic finger when he got into the United States of America.

He told the Commission that Abdoulie Bojang and Mendy brought urine and tried to force him to drink it; which he refused but was forcibly made to drink his own urine after some serious beatings and tortures.

He described Abdoulie Bojang as a heavy set tall man who works for Yahya Jammeh and takes care of Yahya Jammeh’s mother-Asombi Bojang.

Batch Samba Jallow told the Commission that when Abdoulie Bojang died he attended his funeral and saw people eulogizing him as a good man, but after several speakers spoke he raised his hands and disclosed that all that the speakers said was not true but indicated that Abdoulie Bojang is a killer and that Abdoulie Bojang nearly killed him.

The witness disclosed that after he spoke he was forcibly removed from the gathering.

Batch Samba Jallow testified that a blue sponge was forcibly used to seal his mouth and a knife was brought and he was informed that he was going to be slaughtered.

He explained that the knife was eventually used to cut him and inflict wounds and pains on him, adding that he was also tortured with droppings from a burnt plastic shoe.

He told the Commission that he was not allowed to drink water but had to drink his own urine and was not also given food to eat. He noted that he was constantly subjected to torture every morning as he was not allowed to shower but was being poured cold water.

He pointed out the ICRC visit served as beacon of hope for them as they were interviewed and certificates issued to them, access to family visits, take showers, access to lawyers amongst.

The witness testified that he, however, charged with sedition and later changed to treason after it was alleged that they organised a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy.

Batch Samba Jallow pointed out that he never took part in the demonstration but knew some of the people who were alleged to have taken part in the demo.

He produced the charge sheet containing the indictment against him, two copies of the Daily Observer reports and they admitted as exhibits.

He told the Commission that they were released due to the intervention of the international community but lamented the fact that he was dismissed from his job by the PMO at the time and never got any gratuity.

He informed the Commission that his efforts to establish reasons of his dismissal proved futile as he was asked to leave the secretary office at the PMO.

The witness disclosed that he was smuggled out of the Gambia to Dakar and then to the United States as an asylum seekers in a resettlement programme.

Batch Samba Jallow told the Commission that testifying before the Commission has given him a new life, security, comfort amongst others.

He said he never believed that Gambians can behave to a fellow Gambian in such a manner they did during the Jammeh government.

He told the Commission that the news of his arrest, detention and subsequent indictment with treason led to the death of his mother who first broke her legs before passing away.

He pointed out that Gambians should know that Gambia belong to Gambian and advised every Gambian not to tolerate the inhuman and violations of human rights meted on people during the Jammeh’s government.

He thanked the people of Niamina District, his wife and children whom he said refused to allow Yahya Jammeh to take his compound.

Author: Bruce Asemote