By Yankuba Jallow
Alieu Lowe, a relative to late Colonel Ndour Cham said he helped the military leader to escape after the failed May 2006 attempted coup.
Lowe appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday, 27th October 2020 in respect of his arrest and detention at the NIA and Mile 2 following a failed military coup in 2006.
Ndour Cham, a one-time Chief of Defense Staff was the leader of the 2006 coup, but failed in their mission to unseat former President Yahya Jammeh. Cham succeeded in escaping arrest and fled to neighbouring Senegal. The people who helped him to escape including the witness were arrested, tortured and detained for helping him flee.
Witness Lowe said he is related to late Colonel Ndour Cham by blood. Lowe testified that Ndour Cham earlier informed him that he was ‘up to something but wouldn’t disclose it because he is a civilian – wait till when I am ready.’ After some time, the witness detailed that Ndour Cham called him to meet him in Gunjur at around 9 pm in the night and when he arrived, he helped Ndour Cham to get to Brikama. The witness was the one who brought the taxi that helped Cham to escape. The witness left Cham in Brikama and around 2 am Ndour Cham called him to come to Farato where he was hiding. Ndour informed him that he was planning to flee because the coup failed. The witness left Ndour Cham in Farato and went home at around 5 am in the morning.
He said at 3 am of the following day some armed personnel of the National Intelligence Agency came to his house in Latrikunda at around 3 am knocking at his door asking him to open. The witness opened his house door and was taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul. Lowe testified that he was beaten by the NIA operatives who kicked and stamped on him. The witness said NIA operatives – Lamin Cham of Sukuta and Abdoulie Sowe were the two who tortured him while seven others were standing outside on standby.
“They were all dress in black-black. Their faces were covered. I could only see their eyes. They came with weapons,” the witness said.
The witness adduced that the NIA agents took D16,000 from his personal coffers, his mobile phone and bank book after a search was conducted in his house.
The witness was detained together with Mustapha Lowe in the same cell. Ndour Cham was hiding at Mustapha Lowe’s house in Farato. They arrived at the NIA headquarters at 5 am.
At the NIA, the witness was subjected to interrogation briefly before he was put inside a cell with Mustapha Lowe. They spent three days at the NIA before they were moved to Mile 2. The witness said he was not allowed to take shower or changed his clothes at the NIA.
In his third week at Mile 2, the witness was picked by the ‘black-black’ and was taken to the NIA at night. The torturers came in two vehicles and they were handed to the torturers by the prison wardens.
He said at the NIA, he was slapped several times and beaten with kicks, but some of the detainees were electrocuted.
The witness spent nine years in jail with the taxi driver until 2015 when he was pardoned by the ex-head of state, Yahya Jammeh.