Bintou Nyabally, a member of the “Kalama Revolution” has alleged that she was raped by two paramilitary personnel at the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) headquarters in Kanifing.
According to Nyabally, the “revolution” stood against former President Yahya Jammeh’s iron-fisted style of governance.
Nyabally is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and she was arrested while on her way to show solidarity with their party leaders who were facing trial on several criminal counts including unlawful assembly. The UDP leadership under Lawyer Ousainou Darboe took to the street on the 16th April 2016 demanding the release of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a youth leader of the party and his colleagues who were arrested on the 14th April the same year.
She said on the 17th May 2016, they were on their way to the court to attend the case involving Lawyer Darboe and other leaders of their party but they were stopped by paramilitary personnel who were asking them to produce their national identity. She added that when they found out that she did not have a national identity card, she was taken to the PIU headquarters together with Mariama Sandeng, a daughter of Solo Sandeng.
She said they were screened at the PIU headquarters and it was discovered that they were going to attend the trial of the UDP leadership.
“I was thrown in a dark cell with Mariama Sandeng. They kept telling us that we were enemies of the State,” she said.
She said she was raped in the cell by two masked paramilitary officers, adding one of them was called Sanneh. She added that the second person used a condom.
“They both forced themselves on me and both of them wore masks,” she said.
She said in the process of resisting them, her hands and legs sustained bruises. She said before she was sexually assaulted, Mariama Sandeng was taken out of the cell leaving her alone in the cell.
She said the next day, she saw Mariama Sandeng who told her nothing happened to her.
“The next day I was vomiting and we were released to go home,” she said.
The Witness’ Testimony
The 33 – year – old said on the 14th April 2016, her uncle Solo Sandeng was arrested but she knew about the arrest the following day through a friend. She said, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe called on a press conference on the 16th April where they decided to take to the street demanding for the State to produce Sandeng dead or alive. She said Lawyer Darboe instructed them to be peaceful and warned them against using vulgar language during the demonstration.
She said they were attacked by paramilitary personnel at Comium building along the Kairaba Avenue.
“The paramilitary personnel were releasing tear gas and they were beating us although I was not touched. They were using their batons. They beat and threw our leaders in their vehicle,” she said.
She said the UDP leaders arrested included their party leaders (Ousainou Darboe), Lamin N. Dibba and Kemeseng Jammeh, among others.
She said she escaped arrest and ran to Solo Sandeng’s home. She added that masked soldiers came to Solo Sandeng’s residence and surrounded the compound.
“They did not talk to anybody and they did not arrest anybody,” she said, adding that they did not talk to anyone until they left.
She said on the 9th May 2016, she put on yellow trousers and a T-shirt bearing “Kalama Revolution”. She added that they were issued with calabashes, brooms and T-shirts. “The calabash and broom signify that we are going to sweep Yahya Jammeh away,” she said.
She said while they were standing around Arch 22, the police asked them to leave and they complied by moving.
She said on this day, the courtroom was full to capacity and they were asked to leave the court premises by the police. She said they stood around the Gambia Law School until the UDP leadership and co. were taken inside the court.
“We decided to cross to go around the Christian Cemetery around the Arch, but the police said we won’t pass. This is where the problem started because we insisted that we must pass,” she said.
“There was push and pull because we insisted that we are going to pass. That was the time the police started hitting us with their batons,” she said.
She alleged that the police were headed by Commissioner Gorgi Mboob.
“Solo Krummah was hit on his head and he fell. He died sometime after he was taken to the hospital,” she alleged.
She also alleged that the police also hit a man on the eye which caused severe injuries on his face.
She said they managed to pass the police and stood around the Cemetery. She said they later decided to go home but they couldn’t get vehicles. She said they decided to walk back home but were caught by soldiers around the Bond Road in Banjul.
“The soldiers were standing and they had two trucks. They asked us to enter their truck but we refused. They said we won’t pass without entering their truck,” she said.
She said they left Banjul by means of a truck carrying cashew nuts that brought them up to Jeshwang. She added that they decided to walk from Jeshwang to Westfield. She said on their way to Westfield, they were stopped at the PIU headquarters by paramilitary personnel.
“We were walking from Jeshwang to Westfield but when we came around the PIU headquarters, a group of paramilitary personnel came and blocked our way.”
“As we approached them, we were saying “we want peace” “we want peace” and they opened the way for us to pass. They waited until we were in the middle, they beat us and started releasing tear gas,” she said.
“I was also beaten by two paramilitary personnel,” she said.
She said she escaped arrest and hid at the Jakaranda Restaurant in Westfield. She said after leaving Jakaranda, she went to Pipeline at the residence of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe. She said soldiers came and were insulting them.
“Lamin Cham and President Adama Barrow were both there but they both ran and hid when the soldiers came leaving only women to face the soldiers,” she said.
About the Witness
She said she was born on the 22nd October 1986. She said she dropped out of school at grade 8 because she couldn’t continue owing to financial issues.
She said in 2001, she was on her way to attend the United Democratic Party (UDP) meeting in Tallinding. She said they were standing near Fabakary Tombong Jatta’s residence waiting for Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, the UDP leader to welcome him. She said while standing, soldiers standing at the residence of the APRC’s leader shot one boy standing with them on his forehead.
“The boy was called Ousman Ceesay,” she said.
She said when Ousman was shot, the soldiers wanted to take the corpses but the UDP militants refused.
“This was the time the paramilitary started releasing tear gas and we all dispersed,” she said.
She said ex-Chief of Defense Staff Baboucar Jatta came and asked them to hand over the corpses, but left after the people refused to hand over the corpses.