By Yankuba Jallow
Ganyi Touray, an ex-Governor of CRR said he was given an Executive Directive by ex-President Yahya Jammeh to expel followers of Sering Ndigal out of Kerr Mot Hali.
Touray said this before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday, 6thFebruary 2020. He was called to explain his participation in the forceful eviction of the residents of Kerr Mot Hali and to say all he knew about the incident.
Touray said he was born in 1950 in Balangarr village. He told the TRRC that he is a founding member of the United Democratic Party (UDP). However, he joined the APRC in 2005 and in 2007 he was appointed the Governor of CRR.
In his testimony, the former hotelier said Kerr Mot Ali is the first settlement to have a mosque in Upper Saloum adding that the founder, Mr. Alagie Basirou Secka, was a religious leader and people used to go to him and seek blessings from him.
He said he was told that the founder of Kerr Mot Hali originated from Touba Saloum in Senegal and he was a Senegalese. The politician said the founder of Kerr Mot Hali was also the same person who founded Bondali in Foni (The Gambia) and Taiba in Senegal.
Mr. Touray confirmed that Muhamadou Habibou Secka alias Ndigal was installed at Kerr Mot Ali by his father. The witness said he used to visit Ndigal in Kerr Mot Ali, adding that one of his visits to Ndigal was in 1970 when he began his political career. Touray said when Ndigal was arrested, he visited him at the Police Headquarters and Ndigal told him that the police did not tell him why he was detained. However, he said he heard people claiming that Ndigal was calling himself God.
According to Touray, the Ndigal sect is not an Islamic sect. He said this is because Ndigal and his followers transformed the communal mosque to a playground where men and women used for drumming and dancing. He alleged that Ndigal used to gather more than a hundred girls and over a hundred boys in the mosque who will be singing, drumming and dancing which he said was not religious. He said this activity of Sering Ndigal was wrong and shouldn’t have happened because it was unreligious. He testified that what they were doing in the mosque was related to animal behaviour. He told the Commission that he has photographs to show that they were drumming and dancing.
The former Governor testified that when Ndigal died, he went to the funeral but he was told that it was only seven people who were allowed to see him and they were the ones who bathed him, adding that Ndigal was buried in Kerr Mot Ali in Senegal.
He said after some time, a delegation went to him and introduced Ndigal’s Son, Muhammadou Basirou Secka as successor of the father. He said he advised Ndigal’s son to be law-abiding and have respect for rule of law and continue the good job he was doing.
He said at the time he was a Governor of CRR, there were 35-yard owners in Kerr Mot Ali and 15 of them were not part of the Ndigal sect. At this juncture, a Layout of Kerr Mot Ali was given to the witness, but in his reaction, Touray said the number of compounds stated on that document did not actually represent the community. He said Kerr Mot Hali Senegal was bigger than Kerr Mot Hali of the Gambia.
He told TRRC that Ndigal constructed solid houses in Kerr Mot Ali Senegal as if he was suspicious of anything will happen to him so that he quickly enter Kerr Mot Ali Senegal in case of any problem.
He said he was told by the Chief of the District Malick Mbaye that Alioun Secka from Senegal wanted to renovate the Mosque for people to pray there as his father was doing. Touray said Alioun Secka is the elder brother of Sering Ndigal. He added that he advised the Chief to take his district authorities to sort out the issue. However Mbaye reported to him that the people in Kerr Mot Ali Gambia were not cooperating with them for the Mosque to be refurbished and opened for prayers.
Mr. Touray added that he wrote to the Supreme Islamic Council to engage the followers of Ndigal. He said the Ndigal followers did not believe that the mosque is meant for prayers.
Mr. Touray informed the Commission he went to the village to meditate, but he did not succeed and this was why he wrote to the Minister of Religious Affairs, explaining the situation in Kerr Mot Ali The Gambia. He admitted before the Commission that he facilitated the presence of security forces (paramilitary) in Kerr Mot Ali Gambia.
He said he received an Executive Order from ex-President Jammeh instructing him to expel the Ndigal sect from The Gambia and re-establish Islam, but the witness insisted his mission was just to reopen the Mosque and not to force anyone to become a Muslim. He added that even though the Order was unlawful, in those days, executive directives were seen as law and they must be executed.
Mr. Touray told the Commission that what the Ndigal sect was doing was against Islam but agreed that it was unlawful to evict someone from his home. He said when he earlier went to Kerr Mot Ali to negotiate with the Ndigal followers about the reopening of the mosque to allow people to pray, he was told that they will fire bullet in the anus of anyone who attempts to pray in the mosque.
Lead Counsel further told him that the people of Kerr Mot Ali and followers of Ndigal were beaten, but he said none of them was beaten. He told the Commission that he does not know where the current Alkalo hailed from.
Mr. Touray told the Commission that nobody from Kerr Mot Ali was tortured but a video was played for him wherein the Ndigal followers were narrating their ordeal in the hands of the hands of the paramilitary.
“Counsel, these people are the biggest liars in the world,” he said, as he denied they were tortured.
Mr. Touray further testified that it is correct that some people were arrested in his presence, but he denied seeing anyone of them been tortured.
He said he facilitated the release of the detainees a day later, adding that the testimonies of the detainees that they were detained for 21 days at the police station and Janjanbureh prisons was false. He said he did not witness the torture of any woman or child as alleged by the victims.
“Mr. Touray, do you believe that all your actions were lawful, do you accept that you made some mistakes?” Counsel Faal told the witness and he responded in the affirmative.
Touray said he regretted only one thing which is that the Ndigal followers who were Gambians shouldn’t have been evicted. He sought forgiveness from them.