By Nelson Manneh
A member of the United Democratic Party yesterday informed the Truth Commission that Ebrima Solo Sandeng had informed him PPP, NRP and GMC were supposed to join them on their protest slated for 14th April 2016.
Mr Modou Ngum said, “Solo told me that we were going to do the protest with three other political parties (PPP, NRP and GMC), but PDOIS was not part of it (the protest).”
Earlier, Ngum told the Commission that on 12th April 2016, Ebrima Solo Sandeng invited him to his residence and told him that the Independent Electoral Commission came up with elections by-laws which were not favourable to some political parties in the country and that he was planning a protest on the 14th April 2016.
The TRRC Witness added prior to the protest, Solo informed him that UDP Secretary General Ousainou Darboe was not aware of his plans and that they did not have a permit.
Ngum, who appeared at the TRRC on Monday 28th December 2020 was born in August 1987 in Tujereng. He is a youth coordinator of the United Democratic Party (UDP) in Tujereng.
“In all our political activities in Tujereng, we did not use microphones because we needed permit and it was not easy to secure permit at that time,” he said.
The UDP youth coordinator said in November 2012 they wanted to stage a political meeting in their village and some Police Officers came and interrupted their meeting.
He said one of their members by the name Amadou was once arrested by Police Officers and detained at Tujereng Police Station and later transferred to Banjulinding Police Station.
He said when their party leader Ousainou Darboe heard that Amadou was arrested and detained at Banjulinding Police Station, he requested for him to be arraigned in court or released.
Mr. Ngum said in those days, their political activities were either interrupted, or they were arrested and detained by Police Officers.
The witness said they wrote the following slogans on their banners; ‘dictatorship must end’, ‘Yahya Jammeh must go’, ‘we need Electoral reforms’ ‘Gambian people are hungry’ among others.
Mr. Ngum said in the morning of 14th April 2020, he left Tujereng with his delegates and passed by ‘Bambo’ and proceeded to their Bureau in ‘Manjai’.
He said Solo them met them at Manjai and told them that anyone arrested during the protest, should inform the Police Officers that he was the one who organized the protest.
“From Manjai we came back to Bambo and started the demonstration there going towards Westfield. Many people told us to stop the demonstration, but we refused,” he said.
He said all the political parties that promised to join the protest, did not turn out that day, instead it was only UDP supporters who were present.
The witness said Police Officers from Serrekunda Police Station went to Westfield to arrest Solo Sandeng, but they refused and told the officers to arrest all of them together.
“The former Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council Yankuba Colley came out of his office and looked at us, but he did not come close to where we were standing. When he returned to his office, we saw PIU officers in a truck coming towards us and some of our members started to run,” he said.
Mr. Ngum said he was the first person arrested by the PIU Officers and thrown into a truck. He said twenty-six of them were arrested that day.
The witness further testified that they were taken to the PIU headquarters in Kanifing.
“I saw Ousman Sonko, Yankuba Badgie the former director of NIA, Sheik Omar Jeng, General Badjie and other senior Officers at the PIU headquarters,” he said.
He said whilst they were at the PIU headquarters, the Officers called three of them (Modou Ngum, Nogoi Njie and Solo Sandeng), handcuffed them and put them on board three separate pickup vehicles and took them to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
The witness said at the NIA headquarters, the officers took their fingerprints one by one and during that process, he said he heard Solo Sandeng crying.
“They also took Nogoi Njie in a room and I heard Nogoi shouting that they will not remove her clothes and she also started to cry,” he said.
He said at the NIA headquarters, the Officers took his statement, removed his clothes and put him inside a cell.
Mr. Ngum further stated that after a while, one of the officers took him out of the cell and covered his head with a plastic bag and began to torture him.
He said whilst the Officers were torturing him, he heard Kafu Bayor crying.
The witness said he was tortured three times at the NIA headquarters, adding he was beaten and blood oozed from his body. He said he was drinking his own blood because he was thirsty and did not have water to drink.
Mr. Ngum told commissioners that they spent fourteen-days at the NIA headquarters before they were transferred to Mile ll central prison.
He said in Mile ll, they were handed over to chief torturer Ebrima Jammeh and former Prisons Director General David Colley.
He said they were separated at Mile 2, adding the women were taken to the female wing and the men were incarcerated at the maximum-security wing.
He said they met their party leader at Mile Two Prison and he visited all of them in their various cells and requested for the prison Officers to give them mattresses.
The witness said from Mile ll, they were transferred to Janjangbureh Prison, adding they were later prosecuted at Mansakonko High court and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
He said they were pardoned by the new government after the 1st December 2016 Presidential election.