By Nelson Manneh
Ebrima Drammeh, alias Jim Drammeh, Director of Operations at the Drug Law Enforcement Agency The Gambia (DLEAG), has on Wednesday testified before the TRRC.
The TRRC is now focused on the institutional hearings of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) where Drammeh has served for years.
Ebrima Jim Drammeh graduated from St Augustine’s High School and was enrolled at the rural development institute. He was employed by the government of the Gambia under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands.
Jim said he did not like the job he was doing in the Local Government Ministry. He said he fell in love with the work of intelligence officers after he read several books on intelligence gathering, and so he decided to join the National Security Service (NSS).
Ebrima Drammeh said he served as a presidential guard at the state house. He said he served as the bodyguard to the first president of the Gambia Sir Dawda Jawara and his family.
He said they thought that the 1994 coup would take place on the 21st July 1994 but it did not. He said he was part of the security Officers who picked up Jawara from the airport to the state house.
He said at the airport, he was between the soldiers and the former president and no one could have touched ex-President Jawara without touching him.
He said he has worked in all departments at the NIA.
Jim, who also served as a trainer at the NIA training school, said he will not deny that NIA used to fabricate evidence against people, but said this did not happen in his time.
About the Farafeeni Attack
The former member of the Gambia Security Council said the incident happened on a Friday, adding on that day, whilst he was going to work he got a lift by the DG NIA and when they reached Banjul, he reported to his office and was told that there was an attack at Farafeeni.
The former officer, who commanded the operation unit of the NIA, said when he came to know about the attack, he went to his Director General and told him that they have only one intelligence officer in Farafeeni by the name Pa Faal.
He added he then proposed for reinforcement to be done at Farafeeni which he headed with Peter Singhatey.
He said they moved on tactical formation and met their enemies on the way to Farafeeni. He said they met a vehicle on the road that had almost all the weapons at Farafeeni barracks.
Jim said when they reached Farafeeni barracks, the spent the night in the army camp. He said at the barracks they got information from the villagers that a person was hiding in one of the buildings in the village, but they did not recognize him.
He said when they reached the building he entered inside the building with one Omar and captured the enemy (Yahya Drammeh).
He said when they captured him, they handcuffed him and took him to the Farafeeni camp and later brought him to Banjul.
He alleged that the enemy, who was captured, was the one who killed one Sidibeh.
He said when they reached the NIA headquarters in Banjul, they met other NIA officers interrogating other suspects who were already captured and brought to the NIA.
About the 2006 Coup
The witness said when the alleged attack was reported to him at the time; he went to the airport to collect his boss Daba Marena and drove to the counter-terrorism unit in Bijilo where they did the briefing because Daba told him that he was aware of the coup.
He said Marena later requested that he wanted to go to the state house to know what was happening there and they called Tumbul Tamba to enquire from him how the situation was at state house.
He said Tamba after observing the situation at State House, decided to report to Yahya Jammeh instead of Marena. He said Yahya Jammeh was not happy about it.
“Daba Marena never took part in the 2006 Coup,” the witness said.
He said the following day, whilst they were at work Marana called him and told him that he was going out but he will come back and that was the end, Daba Marana never came back, he added.
The witness said the place where the investigation of the 2006 aborted coup was taking place, was closed to his office and in some instances, he found it difficult to go inside his office because he knew some people who were been arrested and tortured there.
“Everybody at the NIA was afraid because nobody was safe. Those who were doing the interrogation were not doing it properly,” he said.
Jim said torturing of inmates at the NIA started after the 2006 aborted coup.
He said at the NIA, Bunja Darboe, Lamin Gassama, Pierre Mendy and Wassa Camara were tortured. He said there was a day he saw the current speaker of the National Assembly Mariam Jack Denton at the NIA weeping. He said Ramzia was also tortured at the NIA.
The witness alleged they later realized that the ‘black-black’ were the ones torturing detainees at the NIA.
He said the panel that was interrogating the arrested people was not constituted by members of the NIA alone; instead there were personnel of other security agencies.
Jim agreed that torturing was a culture at the NIA. He said he does not know the mode of operations of the special operation unit at the NIA, but all he knew is that the unit was answerable to the Director General.
The witness said he came to know that the special operations unit were also torturing people at the NIA when NIA officers testified at the TRRC, but at the NIA he was not aware of it. He said he never worked with Alagie Morr and Lamin Darboe at the NIA.
Jim said there was a day he was informed by his Director General that there was an operation that took place around Brikama involving Bissau Guineans who were accused of dealing in drugs and the National Drug Law Enforcement has interrupted their operation and the Bissau Guineans were on the run.
He said the Director General told him that he wanted a reinforcement, which he did and some of the suspects were arrested and brought to the NIA.
“When they arrived at the NIA, one of them by the name Fernando was very brutal, I intervened and slapped him and subdued him,” he said.
The witness said he slapped and beat all of them who were arrested in relation to the drug saga adding all of them were stripped off their clothes. He said he was not the one who personally stripped them off their clothes, but he was present with other NIA officers when they were stripped off their clothes.
Jim said Lamin Kabu was once brought to his office by Ousman Sowe (the current DG of NIA) and he was informed that he (Lamin Kabu) obstructed the operation of the NIA in Brikama in regards to foreign nationalities accused of selling drugs in the country.
He said he interrogated Kabu and later handed him over to Sukuta Jammeh for further investigation. Jim denied beating Lamin Kabu while he was at the NIA headquarters.
He said in 2009, he was dismissed from the National Intelligence Agency, adding no reason was advanced for his dismissal.