TRRC witness says infighting, bad conditions in prison land many in trouble

Jun 24, 2020, 12:22 PM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Ali Ceesay, a former prison warden on Tuesday told the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that infighting and the bad conditions of the prison landed some prisoners and even prison officers in trouble.

Ceesay, who worked at the prison kitchen between 1993 and 2008, maintained that the high protein diet was good, but that the general diet was not that good.

This high protein diet, he stated was given to prisoners who were sick and based on the recommendations of doctors.

On the widely held allegations by witnesses before TRRC of prison officers stealing food rations meant for prisoners, the witness responded that he heard about the rumours, adding that some prisoners died of beriberi due to poor diet.

He told the commission that he managed to change many diets to make it good for consumption.

Further on the alleged dead bull that was fed to prisoners, Ceesay recalled that the incident happened during a weekend and he didn't work on weekends.

"I heard it was a death bull that was knocked by a car and David Colley ordered it to be cooked for prisoners. I heard that some people felt sick and others died after eating the meat."

He also told the commission that NIA operatives and ‘junglers’ used to bring handcuffed detainees to the prison and kept them at the maximum security wing.

Cessay acknowledged that there were some detainees, who used to be denied medical attention.

He revealed that NIA officers, who used to frequent State Central Prison include Lamin Darboe and Omar Cham and that on one occasion they escorted one Pierre Mendy, a detainee. He explained that Mendy in fact told him that at the NIA, they tortured him and shock him with electrical wires.

About the case of Kanyiba Kanji, he said Kanji was brought to the prison and later taken away, where he later understood that he was allegedly killed.

"Musa Suso was torture because they found mobile phone in his possession. The recruits were the one who beat him and it was ordered by David Colley. I was present when he was being beaten. Even the prison officers used to be maltreated likewise detainees at the prison."

Ceesay said he was charged for trying to solve a problem between two prisoners, Soriba Conde and Ensa Badjie.

As a result, he told the commission that he was invited at the NIA where he found Mballow Jobe, Omar Cham and others who interrogated him, adding that they gathered information that he threatened someone in the prison.

"I was told to write my name, school career and tribe. They said I was related to Ensa and that is why I supported him over Soriba. Because of the fight that took place between Ben Jammeh, David Colley and Ensa Badjie, I was charged with three counts of threatening a witness."

Witness further alleged that he was fined D30,000 or to serve three years’ imprisonment. He explained that one of his family members paid the fine and he was later dismissed from his job after his conviction.

During his concluding remarks, Ceesay called for unity as the only way to move the country forward, denouncing tribalism in its entirety.