Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Karbou says his tormentor is now his boss

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Eleven years on, Lamin Karbou, a drug squad operative on Thursday told the TRRC that his tormentor is now his boss at the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG).

Karbou said he was detained and tortured at the NIA several weeks by Alagie Morr (Edrisa Jobe) and his men as well as Jim Drammeh for refusing to change his statement in a drug case in which the two were involved.

He said Jim Ebrima Drammeh, a former NIA operative is now the director of operation at the DLEAG together with one Alagie Morr, an ex-director of Operation of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Sergeant Karbou said Jim and Morr were Cocaine dealers together with some nationals of Guinea Bissau together with some NIA operatives in the persons of Sheriff Ceesay, Mustapha Ceesay, Demba Mbye and the accountant at the NIA Lamin Hydara among others.

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The Brikama born said the people the Bissau Guineans were dealing included with Ansumana Fatty, Tijan Ndour, Alagie Sarjo, Karamo Drammeh and Ferdinand Co. He said his arrest came about when he went with his colleague Lamin Sima to arrest the drug dealers not knowing they were working with the NIA in the trade.

He said when he arrived in Kembujeh village with Lamin Sima, he found Ansumana Fatty, Karamo Drammeh and Tijan Ndour in negotiation with NIA agents in the persons of Sheriff Ceesay, Mustapha Ceesay, Demba Mbye, Lamin Hydara (accountant at the NIA), Omar Jammeh (OC West Coast Region), Sanna Bojang (not an NIA agent but a volunteer), Lamin Darboe and Captain Momodou Jarju alias Rambo of the Gambia Armed Forces. He told the Commission that there were other civilians also present there.

The Brikama born told the Commission that he went to Kumbujeh because he was instructed by his boss Nfally Dambell to go and arrest the suspected drug dealers. He said when he reached the scene, Lamin Sima and himself identified themselves to the suspects who were negotiating as officers from the DLEAG.

“At this point, Lamin Darboe fired a shot in the air saying ‘this is a show of the NIA and not the drug squad,” the witness said.

He said Ansumana Fatty was having a black bag containing £15,000 Euros and when they arrived, he left with the money. He added that another person was having a black bag containing the suspected Cocaine.

“The NIA prevented us from carrying on with our operation,” the witness said.

He told the Commission that the instruction his boss gave him was to arrest the suspects. He said they realised the NIA agents were in fact the ones in the deal and they were found them negotiating with the suspects.

He said the NIA agents handed Tijan Ndour and Karamo Drammeh to the Brikama Police Station as they refused to hand over the bag containing the Cocaine to the drug squad.

“The NIA officers left us with Tijan Ndour and Karamo Drammeh and they told us that they will be coming for the two,” the witness said.

He said this was the time his boss at the Brikama station called Bun Sanneh, Director General DLEAG and informed him about what had happened. He said Sanneh called the director general NIA, BO Badjie and informed him about what the NIA officers were doing.

He told the Commission that drug related matters should have been handled by the DLEAG and not the NIA.

He said the NIA operatives were in fact the drug dealers and they were at the scene on their own.

He said he was called to answer to Bun Sanneh adding that after explaining the issue to Sanneh, he went with him to the NIA headquarters where they met BO Badjie. He said he explained the same thing to Badjie. The witness said after hearing his narration, Badjie told him to go with Jim Drammeh, the then director of operation of the NIA who was going to record his statement. He said Sanneh left him at the NIA and he was taken to Jim’s office where to give his statement.

“When we arrived at Jim’s office, he (Jim) pulled out a pistol to threaten me, but I was composed – he could not have threatened me. I explained the same thing to Jim, but he asked me to write a similar statement like the one his men gave. Jim told me that his men in their statement said they conducted arrests and some of the suspects escaped. I told Jim that I don’t witness that and I did not see anyone running away because no one ran at the arresting ground,” the witness said.

He said Jim wanted him to lie to cover up the crime committed by the NIA officers. The witness said when he refused to comply with Jim’s order, Jim called one Alagie Idrissa Jobe alias Alagie Morr and informed him about his refusal to change his statement.

The witness said Alagie Morr told Jim that ‘since he refused to change his statement, then he has to go through what others went through.”

He said this was the time when he handed all his belongings including his phone to the NIA. He explained that he was taken upstairs where Alagie Morr was seated, adding that there were electrical wires and other electrical materials and scissor.

“When I entered the room, I was grabbed by men and they put a green plastic bag over my head, but Alagie Morr told them it was not necessary and the plastic bag was removed from my head. Alagie Morr asked me whether I will comply with them and change my statement, but I when I told him I won’t, Alagie Morr tore my trouser with the use of a scissor. I was standing naked just like the way my mother gave birth to me. They forced me to kneel down while I was in hand cuffs. Alagie Morr connected an electric wire and he was the first to start beating me and the others joined. I was wounded all over my body,” the witness said.

He said he was wounded on his head, face, back and other parts of his body.

“Alagie Morr was the head of that particular torture group,” the witness said.

He said after 2 to 3 minutes of torture, the torture was stopped after one of his torturers suggested that they should stop to enable him ponder and to change his position.

He said after the torture, he was left with one man.

“I kicked the man and he fell on the floor. I broke the door and I went downstairs. I was still in hand cuff and naked. I went through the back gate through the cemetery and I came around the Arch 22nd. I went through the streets of Banjul naked and still in cuff. Children were following me as I was moving and I went to the office of my Director General at the premises of the Police Headquarters,” the witness said.

He said he found his director general and the others he left at the office still at the office. He said he was given clothing by his colleagues at the director general officers.

He said Alagie Morr, Jim Drammeh and some other NIA officers came for him at his director general’s office and requested that he should be handed to them.

He said Sanneh drove him to the NIA for their director general to see what his officers did to him (the witness). He said Badjie asked his men who did that and Alagie Morr responded saying it was himself, Jim Drammeh and others who did the act. He said Sanneh left him at the NIA and the hand cuff was cut with the use of an instrument because the keys were nowhere to be found.

He said after the hand cuff was cut, he was taken before a panel at the NIA and he was subjected to questioning. He added that the panellists included former deputy director NIA Louis Gomez, Alagie Morr, the current director general of NIA, Ousman Sowe, Sukuta Jammeh and some senior NIA officers. He said Tijan Ndour and Karamo Drammeh together with Ansumana Fatty were also brought before the panel. He added that his colleague, Lamin Sima was also brought before the panel.

“The two Bissau Guineans were tortured and there were marks all over their body,” the witness said, adding that “I saw marks on them.”

He said speaking before the panel, Ansumana Fatty informed them that Jim Drammeh and Alagie Morr knew about their presence in the country. Fatty told the panel that Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh were paying the lodge they were living.

He said Fatty informed the panel that they were in deal with Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh. He said Fatty disclosed that they used to buy limestone and pound it to powder. After turning the limestone to powder, he said Jim and Alagie Morr used to give them Cocaine which was mixed with the limestone.

“After this, Fatty said they used to go and get customers to come and buy the Cocaine. Fatty said before the buyers come, they used to inform Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh and when the buyers come, Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh will come with their men and arrest them. It was a scam in which Jim Drammeh and Alagie Morr were involved,” the witness said.

He said after Fatty’s revelation, the seven of them were all put in a small cell and they found one detainee there at the charge office at the NIA headquarters.

He said in the evening around 6 pm, ex-IGP Ensa Jesus Badjie, Bo Badjie, Alagie Morr and others came to visit him at the charge office. He said Jesus after seeing the condition of his body told Bo Badjie that he shouldn’t have allowed his men to do this. He said it was at this point that Bo Badjie told Jesus that Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh were the ones responsible for what happened to him. He said Ansumana Fatty was brought before Jesus and he explained the same story to him.

“Jesus said let them take me to hospital but Alagie Morr said I won’t be allowed to go to the hospital because of my condition,” the witness adduced.

He said after spending some weeks at the NIA, there was a day when Bo Badjie was passing and he shouted at him asking him why he was detained their unlawfully for weeks. He said on the same day, he was moved from the cell at the charge office and taken to another room upstairs. He said in that room, he met an old man who was tortured and blood was stained all over his clothing and body.

“This old man was severely tortured. He (the man) told me he was tortured by Alagie Morr. The man told me he was a marabout and he did a work for a woman who refused to pay him. The man said he was reported to Alagie Morr by the woman and Alagie Morr tortured him and detained him in that room,” the witness said.

He said journalists Emil Touray, Pa Modou Faal and some senior journalists who were arrested in 2009 found him at the NIA and they saw the injuries on his body.

He said he was taken to the police headquarters and later arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate’s Court on charges of conspiracy, possession of drugs for the purposes of trafficking and other charges. He said the matter was transferred to the Brikama Magistrate’s Court on basis of jurisdiction. He said when the case was transferred, he was taken to Mile II and they were there for some months before they were arraigned at the Brikama court. He added that the matter suffered several adjournments. He said he was bailed by Magistrate Foster and the matter was transferred to the Banjul High Court before Justice Mosses Richards Johnson. He said the case was later transferred to Justice Nkea, and then to another judge and finally before Justice Ekpala.

He said when the case was before Justice Mosses Richards, the Bissau Guineans returned to their country. He said one Tijan Ndour, an NIA operative gave him Ansumana Fatty’s number and when he talked with Fatty, he (Fatty) told him that it was the NIA that facilitated their return to Bissau.

“From 2009 to 2011 there was no single witness in our case,” the witness said, adding that “the prosecutor told the judge that their witnesses refused to appear and they want the accused persons to be acquitted and discharged.”

He said Justice Ekpala on the third hearing day acquitted and discharged them following the withdrawal of the case by the prosecution.

He said after he was acquitted and discharged, he filed a case against his torturers and presented his medical papers and photos of his body. He said the trial Magistrate released Alagie Morr and Jim Drammeh after ex-Secretary General and head of civil service Njogu Bah intervened and asked the Magistrate not to jail these two torturers.

He said after Morr and Drammeh were released they were transferred from the NIA to the DLEAG. He told the Commission that Jim Drammeh is his boss now and he is not appreciative of seeing this man because it reminds him of what they did to him 11 years ago. He said whenever he sees Jim, he feels very bad and he does not want to associate with him

Commissioner Imam Sey told the witness that he shouldn’t do anything to these two men and let him allow the due process to be followed.

He said while at the NIA he lost his 6-year-old daughter and the schooling of his other children became paralysed because no one was paying for them.

TRRC continues on Monday at 10 am.

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