By Yankuba Jallow
A former senior manager at Gamtel Bansang Branch has told the TRRC that he was victimised for his refusal to accept an order by the NIA to shut down Citizen FM.
Ebrahima Yabo like many others paid price for refusing to comply with the dictates of the former regime of ex-President Yahya Jammeh who at all time was hostile to the media. Yabo spent over four years in detention at the NIA and Mile 2 for refusing to shut down Baboucar Gaye’s Citizen FM.
Appearing before the truth commission on Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, Yabo said in 2000, he was invited to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by one Mansour Bah who told him that he was needed and he has to come to their headquarters. He explained that when he arrived at the NIA, he found former Inspector General of Police, F R I Jammeh and former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Samba Bah together with some NIA operatives in the persons of Daba Marenah, Abdoulie Kujabi and others. The witness said these people asked him to switch off Citizen FM, a private radio station. He told the Commission that the radio belonged to one Baboucar Gaye.
“I told them that I cannot do that because it was not part of my job description,” the witness said.
He said former President Yahya Jammeh was informed about his refusal to comply with them. He said he was allowed to go home and at around 3 am, operatives of the NIA came knocking at his door, asking him to open the door. He said it was at this point that he called the police to come to his aid. He added that when the police came, they found the NIA agents armed and this was when he was asked to open the door. He told the Commission that he was taken to a police station in Banjul and his name was recorded in the police book before he was handed to the NIA. He said one Italian national Francisco was part of those who arrested him.
He said at the NIA, he spent three (3) days in a room at the Reception of and was later moved to ‘Bambadinka’ cell where he spent 21 days. He described ‘Bambadinka’ as hell because of its terrible condition. He said during his detention at the NIA, he was refused bath and the food they were served was not save for human consumption, adding that it was terrible.
He told the Commission that he was detained at ‘Bambadinka’ together with one Ebrima Barrow, some soldiers and civilians. He said these people were suspected of plotting a coup d’etat with ex-soldier, Alagie Kanteh, who at the time has already fled the country.
He detailed that on his twenty-first day of detention, he was arraigned before the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court but the matter couldn’t proceed and the matter was transferred to the high court by the trial magistrate. He said the transferred was as a result of the magistrate’s lack of jurisdiction to try the case. He added that the magistrate also remanded them at Mile 2 pending their appearance before the high court.
He said he was not tortured at the NIA physically but he was tortured psychologically as a result of his detention. He said he was not told why he was detained and refused family access.
“I was detained incommunicado for 21 days at the NIA,” the witness said.
He told the TRRC that charges were not read to them before the lower court and he was taken to Mile 2 without knowledge of the charges preferred on him.
He said he was put in cell number 4 of the Maximum Security Wing of the Mile 2.
“The cell was very small. It had only one block of cement. No mosquito net and there was only one chamber-pot,” the witness lamented.
He said they were not allowed food from outside in their first 3 months stay at Mile 2.
“I was kept in communicado for 3 months at Mile 2,” Yabo said.
He said he was served with an indictment at Mile 2 that he was charged with treason. He said the trial began and at the end he was acquitted and discharged by the high court.
“I spent 4 years and 4 months in Mile 2,” the witness said.
He said he wanted to return to Gamtel to continue his work but he was refused by the State.
“I was not discharged. I was never terminated. The Director of Public Prosecution took the law into his own hands and did what he liked,” the witness told the TRRC.
He told the Commission that after six (6) months he went in exile to Manchester, United Kingdom.
The witness said he wants to be paid his dues for the past 12 years and wants to be reinstated at Gamtel.