By Yankuba Jallow
Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe for Lieutenant General Saul Badjie and two others on Monday, 17 January challenged the legality of the detention of his three clients at Mile 2.
The detainees are Lieutenant General Sulayman Badjie, Major Landing Tamba and Warrant Officer Class 1 Musa Badjie.
Lawyer Jobe said Saul Badjie and the two others are detained at Mile 2 without any criminal charges on them.
The case came on Monday for the first time before Justice Zainab Jawara-Alami of the High Court in Banjul.
The State filed an application seeking a court order to keep Saul Badjie and the two others in detention for 90 days to permit and facilitate further investigation pending preferring formal charges.
The application is supported by an affidavit sworn to by one Jall M.I. Senghore, a police inspector working with the Gambia Police Force.
Senghore said these soldiers did not have the permission of the command of the Gambia Armed Forces to go on this journey and to remain for the duration of time they spent in Equatorial Guinea. He said the army at some time declared them as deserters.
Senghore said during the period of stay of these soldiers and others who were part of the escort team of ex-President Yahya Jammeh to Equatorial Guinea intermittently interfered with the internal politics of the country. He added that based on a number of security assessments posed and continues to pose threat to the country as a result of their past antecedents.
In 2018, the Gambia Government established a Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) and on the 25th November 2021 submitted their findings and recommendations to the Gambia Government. On the 24th December 2021 the Government made public the findings and recommendations of the truth commission.
The TRRC report identified Saul Badjie and the two others as alleged perpetrators.
Senghore said the TRRC report recommended for further investigation to be carried out on the three detainees for alleged human rights violations that the Commission might not have been able to investigate.
Senghore said on the 24 and 25 December 2021 two groups of the escorts of former President Jammeh came back to the Gambia and surrendered themselves to the security for screening. He mentioned that the three were part of the team.
Senghore said Saul Badjie during the screening exercise acknowledged that he was a member of the notorious Junglers group of the former head of state. He averred that General Badjie also disclosed knowledge of commission of some grave offences such as the burning of the Independent Newspaper and the murder of two Gambian-Americans, the killing of Chief of Defense Staff Colonel Ndure Cham.
Senghore said during the screening General Badjje informed them that he was in touch with two people in a plot to carry out attacks to disrupt the elections.
In the course of preparing the affidavit, Senghore said he was advised by State Counsel Kimbeng Tah that there is a need to launch an urgent wide investigation into the alleged crimes which do not form part of the TRRC’s findings.
Senghore said he is also aware that there is need to investigate the sojourn of Saul Badjie and the other two in Equatorial Guinea and as this may have potential of posing severe national security risks. He added that based on his experience, such investigation has to be in-depth and cross-border.
Senghore said Saul Badjie was the commander of the State Guard and de facto commanding officer of the Junglers hit squad while the other two were members of the Junglers squad.
“Releasing them into the public while investigations are ongoing is counterproductive to the investigation and could pose a serious national security threat,” Senghore stated in the affidavit in-support.
He said the three suspects never appeared before the TRRC to give evidence whereas there were some members of the Junglers who testified before the truth commission and they were subsequently released.
Senghore said it is in the interest of the investigation that the three suspects be kept in custody pending the investigation which will take a minimum of 90 days.
“It is my assessment that releasing them into the public giving the past antecedents could pose threat to the security and it is not in the public interest,” Senghore concluded.
Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe in his preliminary objection said the application lacks a base in law.
“There is no legal basis for the application. There is no law to support the application,” Lawyer Jobe said.
The court gave him 2 days to file his brief of argument whereas the State is equally given 2 days to reply.
The case was adjourned till the 24th January 2022 at 1 pm for ruling.
Earlier, Lawyer Jobe said his clients are not charged therefore they cannot enter the dock.
“What we have before the court is a civil proceeding – which is an application by the State,” Jobe said.
However, the Judge asked them to enter the dock.