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Ex-NIA commanding officer opens defence

Oct 2, 2012, 10:35 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Omar Jammeh alias Boy Boots, ex-NIA officer commanding the West Coast Region, was the latest accused person to open his defence yesterday in the alleged torture case involving him and three other ex- NIA operatives at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Principal Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe.

Lamin Darboe, Alagie Edrissa Jobe alias Alagie Morr, Ebrima Drammeh and Omar Jammeh alias Boy Boots, all former NIA operatives are being tried after being charged with the offences of assault causing actual bodily harm, common assault, and assault causing grievous bodily harm.

Officer Jammeh told the court that he was among the officers who went for an operation at Brikama-Kembujeh Highway in the West Coast Region.

He said on the day in question, he received a called from his boss informing him that there should be an operation in Brikama-Kembujeh Highway, and he should part of it, involving Lamin Sima and Lamin Kabou.

“I mobilized some personnel to meet in Saikou Ceesay’s residence in Brikama Kabafita. We were informed that a Guinea Bassau national was in the country ready to flee to Bassau,” he added, noting that upon arrival at Sahiou’s residence they held a briefing and divided themselves into two groups.

Based on that intelligence report, they used the current Finance Director of NIA, Lamin Hydara, to act as a buyer at the material point in time.

“After a while, we received a signal from the buying team that the operation needed to be started some minutes later, and we saw a group surrounding our buying team,” he told the court.

He added that upon arrival at the scene, they saw somebody running across the road and they chased him, and later identified him to be one Karamo Drammeh, after arresting him.

Officer Jammeh added that before they reach to their buying team, they heard a big voice saying ‘our money’ repeatedly, while somebody was running away with 15,000 euro through the influence of those two officers.

“We left for Giboro to follow the 15,000 euro. I cannot ascertain who arrested Lamin Sima and Lamin Kabou,” he said.

Lamin Hydara met them in Giboro and asked them if they had seen the suspect, and they informed him that they did not see him, adding that they later returned to Brikama Police Station where he realized that it was Lamin Sima and Lamin Kabou who were arrested.

Under cross-examination, when asked by prosecutor, D.O. Kulo, whether Jobe was part of the arresting team, Jammeh told the court that he could not say anything about the arresting team, because he left the scene for Giboro; and so he could not say anything about who arrested the suspects, as he was not there.

“Our duty as backup team was to effect the arrest during the said operation, but we suddenly left for Giboro when we realized that the money had gone,” he told the court.

Asked whether it was correct that the operation had failed, Jammeh said: “I was not part of the purported buying team, but instead one of the backup teams to effect the arrest. I have not arrested anybody. The officers arrested them when they came from Giboro to Brikama Police Station.”

He added that they were eight in number, in the said operation, and he denied assaulting Lamin Kabou.

“In fact, I did not even see him there with my naked eyes, at the scene,” he further stated.

Asked whether he was happy as the officer commanding the West Coast Region, at the time that the alleged suspect fled with the said 15,000 euro, Jammeh told the court he was not happy because the money was part of the state’s money and this was why they left for Giboro to trace the money.

When asked by prosecutor D.O. Kulo whether he was aware that Lamin Kabou ran away from the NIA main office to the NDEA office in Banjul naked, Jammeh said: “I am not aware of that, as I was based in the West Coast Region”.

He added that he was not part of the investigation team.

The case was then adjourned till 17 October 2012, for adoption of briefs.

The charge sheet on count one stated that the accused persons, some time in May 2009 at the NIA head office in Banjul, conspired to cause injury to the persons of Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima.

Count two stated that the accused persons, some time in May 2009 at the NIA head office in Banjul, with intent to cause grievous harm to Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima, unlawfully wounded Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima, by beating them with fist blows, electric cables and metal.