Saturday, May 8, 2021

“I was a strong Sympathizer of the APRC,” says former NIA Director General

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Mr Abdoulie Kujabi, former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), appeared before the TRRC on Monday and said he was a strong sympathizer of the former ruling party, APRC.

Born in Dobong Village in Foni Kansala, 31st July 1959, he appeared before TRRC in connection with his role as one-time DG of the NIA and subsequent victimization by the same agency he served. 

The former Clerical Assistant at the Judiciary, who also served as an Accounts Clerk at the same institution, alleged that he was set-up by late Principal Magistrate Ebou Mboob, leading to his termination.

Enlisted in the NIA in August 1994, shortly after the coup and during that time, the only qualifications he had was Secondary 4 which was below the ordinary level certificate. Mr Kujabi recollected that he was at the NIA till 2003 when he was redeployed as Commissioner for West Coast Region. He added that in 2002, he served as Deputy Director General of NIA. He said his relationship with Yahya Jammeh led to his appointment as Deputy Director General.

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Kujabi said there was an NIA office at Office of the President (OP) headed by the late Daba Marena and that he used to meet the former president after working hours. During the course of their discussions, he would tell Jammeh what was true and what was false based on the information he received.

Mr. Kujabi agreed with Counsel Faal that he became closed to Yahya Jammeh and eventually served as his Principal Adviser. The witness described Jammeh as someone who was very short tempered and had saved so many people from having problems. He said one day, Yahya Jammeh was so furious at the NIA and was even called by one of the orderlies to intervene and when he arrived at State House, Yahya Jammeh showed him a list and said all directors and permanent secretaries did not vote for him. 

According to him, Jammeh wanted to dismiss the 21 people, but he took the paper and tore it. On whether Jammeh was an Intelligent Fool, he responded in the negative, saying he was someone with ‘one ear’. 

He said it is true that Jammeh is wicked and enjoys putting people in pain and sufferings, adding that Jammeh was pompous too and saw The Gambia as his personal property. 

Mr. Kujabi disclosed that during the negotiations of bringing Jawara back to the country, he told Jawara’s nephew and nieces for Jawara to come back in the country. In that process, he went to Kanilai and met with Yahya Jammeh. Upon arrival, he said Jammeh spoke with Jawara and after the telephone discussions, he told Jawara to send his family so that his properties could be handed over to him. 

On the temperament of Jammeh, he said the former president had different moods.

“Because if he is in a bad mood, he doesn’t care who is facing him or not, and within five minutes he calms down and starts laughing,” he said

According to him, Yahya Jammeh used to insult him when he was in the office but not when they met in his house. The insult was ‘Fool’. 

“Insulting people’s mothers was not Yahya’s character,” said Kujabi. He added that Yahya Jammeh wanted to be seen as someone who was superior to others. 

“He wanted everybody who worked for him and the government to dance to his tune, not only the Government but everybody in the country,” he responded.

Would you consider him a dictator? 

“Yes”, said Kujabi.

Why do you say he was a dictator?

“Because once Yahya gives an order, he must make sure that order is implemented without listening to anybody,” he said.

“Yahya was not seeing the government as a democratically elected Government and sees the country as his personal property,” he said.

He said when he was redeployed to Brikama as Commissioner, while he was resting in house, some NIA and Military Officers went to arrest him and took him to the NIA where Daba Marena told him that he was castigating the president’s name in West Coast. But he told him that he would not ask him his source because they were operating on a ‘Need to Know Basis’, but he would be interested to know when and where he castigated Yahya Jammeh. 

On whether Yahya Jammeh was aware of his detention at the NIA, he responded in the affirmative. He said Jammeh did not have regards for the law when it comes to detaining people. He said it is correct that Yahya Jammeh was aware of all the tortures at the NIA; adding he (Kujabie) heard about the disappearances when the commission was set up.

However, the witness said the tortures did not happen during their time because he left in 2003 and he was serving in a different unit. 

“I was among those who fought very hard to dismantled the 22nd July Movement,” he pointed out.

The July 22nd was funded by Baba Jobe at a time the NIA did not have enough money to run their Operations.

“What I did was I invited Susan Waffa Ogou and told her that we are not in a transitional government and that the 22nd July Movement was hostile to people and needed to be dismantled, because they were used by the NIA in some Operations. I even invited Alagie Banta Camara about the issue for him to support the idea,” he said.

On what he did not like about the July 22nd Movement, he said some boys were sent to Libya for training and when they came back, they found Jammeh on tour and they said they would take over the security of the President, but he told Baba Jobe that the soldiers knew their responsibility. He said Baba Jobe was the head of the July 22nd Movement and frequented Yahya Jammeh’s house and Office respectively.

On his conversations with Yahya Jammeh on the Movement, he said: “I told him that I want us to ban the 22nd July Movement, but he told me it was formed during the transition and I told him may be what was needed was the APRC Movement.”

The witness admitted that as a civil servant he should not have supported the APRC, nor should he have participated in building it up, and that he should have lost his job for publicly supporting the party.

In 1996, UDP supporters were apprehended at the Denton Bridge by APRC militants and two people died as a result of beatings. Kujabi said he wasn’t aware of that.

On whether the NIA cared to investigate, he said it was for the director general to investigate, adding that this was at night and he wasn’t present. He said it is correct that the opposition were attacked and beaten which he admitted to be wrong. Kujabi said the NIA was aware of all these operations.

On the tortures of victims at the NIA, Faal told him that he knew the Chief Torturers at the NIA but Kujabi said he doesn’t know that, adding that a lady was arrested for giving false information about a coup. He said as he entered the office, he heard cries and when he asked about it, he was told that the lady was facing Daba Marena, Foday Barry, Baba Saho and Salimina Drammeh. 

Are you suggesting that you were at the NIA and knew that Daba Marena was responsible for Counter Espionage (CE) and you did not know whom he works with? The president did not care about the law? Faal quizzed. “Yes,” Kujabi responded.

Mr. Kujabi said the channel of communication of the former president was between him and the former director general and during the briefing, Jammeh would have knowledge of people who were tortured. 

Mr. Kujabi said he was surprised to hear that Lamin Darboe was appointed as a Security Guard and later became an officer, saying so many things under the First Republic and Colonial Era are not happening now.

On the issue of his appointment as a Governor, he said he was favored as a family member. However, he said he was far better than his predecessors.

“I was arrested and detained at Mile 2 Prison for two months and 2 weeks while Jasaja Kujabi was arrested from his farm, taken to the NIA but was released from the NIA at 12 midnight. However, there were Pick-up trucks tinted glasses in waiting,” he said.

As a result of that, he warned Marena about Yahya Jammeh and told him that if he was not dismissed by Jammeh, one day he would be a victim of Jammeh. Since then, he did not hear from Jasa until when the Junglers appeared before the Commission and confessed that they killed Jasa Kujabi. Mr Kujabie emotionally testified that he was held incommunicado.

“My brother was arrested the same day with Harouna. I felt very bad that Yahya Jammeh had killed 3 people from my family,” said Kujabi.

On whether he would forgive Yahya Jammeh, he said he is a ‘small boy’ to decide that because older people in their family are there to decide on behalf of the family.

In another arrest, he was held for 5 days at Mile 2 Prison. He said one particular night, Sanna Manjang and Michael Correa took him away and in that process, Sanna Manjang kicked him on his leg and consequently handcuffed him. 

He added Tumbul Tamba told him that he must disclosed all the Marabouts they went to and Musa Jammeh told him that he would break his head with a hammer. He said Sanna Manjang lit cigarettes and burned his eye lases. 

He said it was at that juncture that Ismaila Jammeh told Sanna to stop maltreating him because he (witness) brought up both of them (Sanna Manjang and Ismaila Jammeh). He added Ismaila kicked their Pistols and Tumbul Tamba intervened. He added that it was at this point that Malick Jatta, Sanna Manjang and Michael Correa all began to beat him.

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