Intelligence chief says he was not aware of NIA’s involvement in drug trafficking

Jan 7, 2021, 12:45 PM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Ousman Sowe, the director general of State Intelligence Service (SIS), formerly called National Intelligence Agency (NIA) yesterday testified before the TRRC, saying that he was not aware of defunct NIA’s involvement in drug trafficking as suggested by lead Counsel Essa M. Faal.

The Foni Bullock native said that he had joined the NIA since its inception in 2005 until 2009, when he left for the private sector and later joined government as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment.

Counsel Faal asked Sowe whether people normally used the NIA to implicate their opponents, the witness, however, responded that it was commonly said that people were brought to the NIA for personal conflict.

Dwelling on the responsibilities, Sowe stated that: "Drugs are a threat to the nation and the intelligence have a big role to play when it comes to threat; and it will be advisable that drugs are matters of intelligence."

Counsel further put to the witness that if the NIA operates in that manner, then they are undermining the work of the drug law enforcement agency.

"If that happened, it’s a duplicate of responsibility and government doesn't work like that. The NIA shouldn't follow and arrest drug dealers," Faal pointed out.

Counsel Faal also put it to the witness that the NIA used to involve themselves in the issue of illegal migration, which is not their work. The  witness agreed that they shouldn't involve in such. However, Sowe added: “To arrest, investigate and collect information for national interest is a matter of concern to the intelligence, as powered by the decree."

Talking about Lamin Kabou's incident, Sowe said they received “actionable information.” However, Counsel Faal intervened at this juncture and indicated that was where the problem lay “because the NIA were supposed not to take actions because there is an agency responsible for that.”

Sowe at this time asked for permission to hold a private conversation with the lead counsel and the chair, which he believed shouldn't be aired due to national security implications.

After the indoor conversation, the witness indicated: "That particular incident, we received an information that drugs were transported from Guinea Bissau to the country and some security officers were part of it. With the information gained and the NIA didn't act, then it would have been compromised? I heard there were gun shots in that event."

Counsel Faal alleged that the NIA was involved in drug trafficking to generate funds for their institution. Witness Sowe however denied the allegation.

DG Sowe is expected to continue his testimony today on matters regarding his institution.