By Yankuba Jallow
Madi Ceesay and Musa Saidykhan Wednesday gave a detailed account of their suffering after they were tortured by a gang under the leadership of late Tumbul Tamba and late Musa Jammeh in 2006.
Ceesay was a General-Manager while Saidykhan was an ex- editor-in-chief of the Independent Newspaper.
Saidykhan said he started his journalism with the Daily Observer from 1997 to 2001. He became the editor-in-chief of the Independent Newspaper from April 2005 to March 2006. He is currently the editor of the Kairo Online Newspaper.
Madi Ceesay was the General-Manager of the Independent Newspaper and served one term as the Gambia Press Union president. He also served a term as the Vice President of West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA). He began his journalism career in 1995 with the News and Report Magazine. He is currently the National Assembly member for Serrekunda West Constituency.
The two were arrested on the 27th March 2006in relation to a story that was published by the Independent Newspaper following the failed coup attempt by Lieutenant-Colonel Ndour Cham, a former chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF). Both of them told the Commission that the story was challenged by the person said to be arrested in the aftermath of the 2006 abortive coup, adding that a correction was made on the following day. Despite the correction, the two were arrested by the NIA and subjected to interrogation for the error made.
They told the TRRC that they were subjected to severe torture at the NIA under the command of Tumbul Tamba and Musa Jammeh. For Saidykhan, he said he was tortured twice by the torture team with the use of wires, gun butts as well as using a device on him which resulted in his loss of psyche and fainting. He added that he was electrocuted and his arm was broken by the torturers while tormenting him. He said after torturing him, he was dragged on a concrete ground that worsens the wounds he sustained from the beating by the torture squadron. He said after torturing him, he was taken back to the cell and the following day, he was tortured in a similar line.
Saidykhan said the ex-president was never pleased with seeing his photo with another person on the front pages of the newspapers because for him, he sees it as a comparison between him and the opposition.
He said in October 2005, he attended a forum in South Africa where he petitioned the Government of the Gambia and when he returned, he was first arrested and interrogated by Captain Lamin Saine who was the Internal Director of the NIA.
Saidykhan told the TRRC that the government of the Gambia is not willing to implement the ECOWAS court of justice’s judgment to compensate him with $200,000. He said whenever he contacts the government; they will always tell him that he will be compensated through the TRRC.
“My case has nothing to do with the TRRC,” Saidykhan told the TRRC.
For his part, Ceesay said the APRC government has failed in its responsibility to prosecute any person for allegedly committing crimes against the press such as the arson attacks on media, the murder of journalists, unlawful arrest, detention and torture among others.
He told the TRRC that he escaped a bullet that was shot by a member of the Gambia Armed Forces at Tabokoto while the wife of ex-President Yahya Jammeh, Touti Faal was being escorted. He said the bullet hit the car’s front door and after this, he reported the matter to the Bundung Police Station but nothing came out of it.
Ceesay adduced that he was severely tortured twice by a group of men under the leadership of Tumbul Tamba and Musa Jammeh, both from the State Guard. He said he sustained injuries and was rushed to the military clinic near the State House where he received medical attention. He gave similar torture narration like Musa Saidykhan.
He said he founded the Daily News three years after the Independent was shut down. He added that the Daily News was forcefully shut down by the former regime without putting forward any reasons.
He said his son was arrested on 14th April 2016 during the UDP demonstration at Westfield resulting in the arrests and detention of UDP militants. He added that his son died as a result of torture that was meted on him by agents of the former government.
He said The Gambia was a hell for the media and he urged the Government to repeal all draconian media laws.
“There is no democracy without a vibrant media,” he concluded.