By Yankuba Jallow
Malick Mboob, an erstwhile editor-in-chief of the defunct Daily Observer newspaper said he was used as a scapegoat in the Freedom Newspaper Hacking saga in 2006 and was tortured severely at the NIA.
He told the Commission that the panel of investigators at the NIA cleared him of any wrongdoing, but Musa Jammeh was reluctant to releasing him because he has identified him as the prime suspect.
Malick Mboob was also a former State House reporter for the Daily Observer. Mr. Mboob also worked at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) from 2005 to 2006, but presently works at the Guaranty Trust Bank.
Mr. Mboob told the Commission that he was called at the NIA headquarters by one Nuru Secka, Director of Operations who kept him at the NIA till evening, thereafter he was escorted to a tiny cell and locked up.
He further told the Commission that later in the evening, journalists like Musa Sheriff, Pa Modou Faal and Sam Obi were brought in and locked up in the cell he described as very tiny.
He said a 14-year-old-boy was also brought in and a few days later, Lamin Cham, Honourable Duta Kamaso and one soldier, Buba Jammeh were also brought in.
He explained that these detainees were arrested in connection with the Freedom Newspaper hacking saga and he was paraded before a panel in a conference room where he met Momodou Hydara, deputy director of NIA, Malamin Ceesay, current police commissioner in Kanifing Division, Nuru Secka, NIA’s Operations director and Late Nfally Jabang, a state guard officer.
He told the Commission that Momodou Hydara told him that he was the prime suspect in the Freedom Newspaper saga and Hydara asked him to tell them all he knew about the story.
He said 13 years ago, he was tortured by the junglers at the NIA under the command of Captain Musa Jammeh for refusing to change his statement. He said Jammeh threatened to kill him with a gun or bury him alive if he did not change his statement.
“I was crying. At some time, I couldn’t cry; so, I was lying down, allowing them to beat me,” the witness said.
He said at some point, he pretended that he was dead so that the torturers would stop beating him. He said all the people present there excluding Musa Jammeh and Ismaila Jammeh were all beating him. He said after this, Musa Jammeh was panicked and ordered his men to stop beating him. He added that Ismaila Jammeh carried him and put him in the cell where he was locked.
He said he shared a cell with Pamodou Faal who was the sports news anchor at GRTS, Musa Sheriff the proprietor of the Voice Newspaper, Wura Bah who used to operate an internet café along Westfield, Lamin Bojang from MRC, Harry Joof and Cherno Camara from Gamtel. He said he was taken to the military clinic on the 9th day of his detention after he insisted that he needed treatment. He told the TRRC that the NIA denied having detained him for two weeks when his family inquired about his whereabouts.
“I spent 139 days in detention,” he said adding that he was released on bail. He said he was not told the reason for his arrest. He said he spent about eight months before acquiring a job.
He said some of the detainees were released including Lamin Cham who all filled the NIA form and indicated that they are APRC supporters.
He said three days after his torture, 29th May 2006, he was handed a dismissal letter from service at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital following a directive from the Office of the President which was supported by the Personnel Management Office (PMO).
He said while serving his detention at the NIA, he used to communicate to Pap Saine of The Point Newspaper informing him about arrests and tortures of people at the NIA headquarters.
He said he still undergo physiotherapy because of the effect of the torture he faced at the NIA.
Malick testified that he was the State House correspondent at the time Ndey Tapha Sosseh was the editor-in-chief at the Daily Observer. He said he explicitly wrote about Musa Jammeh alias ‘Malianmungo’ after he allegedly stole food commodities from the Kanilai Farm.
He told the Commission that whilst at the Daily Observer and after the death of Deyda Hydara, the GPU organised a protest march in solidarity with Deyda’s death. He expounded that the Daily Observer staff joined their colleagues from other media houses at the Arch in Banjul. Whilst there, he said, he realised that some security officials including the NIA officials wore the t-shirts and creep into the crowd disguising themselves as journalists.
He explained that they conducted the procession from the Arch to the Ministry of Interior and handed over a petition to the minister. He said after the demonstration, the owners of Observer were not happy and Ndey Tapha Sosseh, who was the editor-in-chief was asked not to report to work the next day.
Mr. Mboob said he denied all the allegations levelled against him and was exonerated of wrong doing and the panel was contemplating releasing him, but Musa Jammeh walked into the hall and when he was informed that he (Malick) was going to be released, he (Musa) refused and responded that he had already told Jammeh that he (Malick) was the prime suspect.