By Yankuba Jallow
Nogoi Njie has told the TRRC that she was battered by NIA agents to an extent she sustained severe injuries.
Njie, a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has on Tuesday, 29th October 2019 while testifying before the TRRC on her victimization by operatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2016, explained how the incident happened that day.
Njie was arrested together with the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a ring leader to the 14th April 2016 UDP demonstration along Westfield. The two were taken to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
Njie told the TRRC that she saw the NIA agents torturing Sandeng until he died.
She said on the 14th April 2016, she left her home because her mother was a high blood and diabetes patient and so she decided to go to Westfield Clinic to get her medication.
Upon arrival at Westfield, she said she found some people with banners in a protest. She said late Solo Sandeng told her that the term of some officials of the Independent Electoral Commission has elapsed and they need to vacate office. Njie said she suggested to Sandeng that they should write to the IEC instead of carrying on with a protest.
Madam Njie said Mr. Sandeng was with Kafou Bayo and Modou Ngum. She said she did not know what was written on the banners. She testified that she was about to board a vehicle when she saw a truck belonging to the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) running at a high speed and began chasing people and beating them. She said Inspector Abdoulie Sanneh of the Gambia Police Force told the PIU personnel that she was running away and should be arrested.
She said 3 soldiers were standing beside her and they said she should board on the truck, but she told them she cannot climb by herself and the PIU Officers assisted her to get on board the truck. She alleged that the PIU Officers used batons to beat them.
She said Fatounatta Jawara and Fatounatta Camara were all thrown on board the same truck. She said Modou Ngum was 25 years and Fatoumatta Jawara was also young. Upon arrival at the PIU Headquarters in Kanifing, she said they were asked to get in a big room where they were all asked to sit on the floor.
She said after a while, Yankuba Colley, former Mayor of KMC arrived and after looking at them for a while, he said they were planning a coup and there were other people behind them.
Mrs. Njie further testified that while in that room, the officers ordered her and Modou Ngum to hold the banner and they took their photographs. She said a policewoman later handcuffed her. She said, Solo Sandeng, Kafu Bayo, Ebrima Jabang and herself were singled out and taken to the NIA. She said on their way, the former Operations Commander of the NIA, Sheikh Omar Jeng, alias Sir Jeng made a phone call and told someone to open the gate that they were on their way coming.
She said upon arrival at the NIA, they took Solo Sandeng away together with Modou Ngum and another boy. She added that she later told them to remove the handcuff from her hands and she was later taken to a room and her fingerprints were all taken.
Mrs. Njie told the Commission that the old man that escorted her to the NIA held a prayer beat but before she got into the cell, the man asked her whether she had beads around her waist but she responded to him that he should ask his wife.
During the course of interrogation at the NIA, she said she was asked the party that she belongs to, but she declined to answer by telling them that was not the reason she was there. She put forward to them that there were many NIA Officials who were not Gambians.
On whether she was given the opportunity to contact a family member or a lawyer, she said the officers did not know that; adding that the NIA operatives do not observe fundamental human rights of people.
She said the NIA officers put on masks because they did not want her to recognise them. The witness bragged that she fought with officers at the NIA, till her knee got broken. She said her shirt was torn and they (the NIA agents) also used a rope to tie her leg. She said she later managed to tie her wrapper and shirt which were torn. She said while she was about to go to an underground room, she saw a gun on top of a table. She said she later saw men holding up whips, pipes among others.
She disclosed that thereafter she was asked to lay down on a table naked but she told them that anyone who sees her naked will get his/her eyes burst.
“They also threatened to hang me dead,” she said.
She alleged that at the NIA, she was told that they will take her dead body and give it to the crocodiles but she told them that it can’t happen when the Almighty God did not decree it.
“They beat me. My whole body was feeling pain,” she said.
She added some of them tried to help her to get up, but she could not. She said blood was oozing from one of her knees. She testified she cannot disclose the full injuries she suffered to the public.
The witness averred that the NIA operatives told her that if she wishes to cross-carpet from UDP to APRC, she will be released. However, she said she told the officers that she was not going to do that.
“Formerly I thought there were animals that were trained to beat people, but when they removed their masks, I realised that they were human beings,” she said.
She testified Mr. Modou Ngum was bleeding from his whole body and eventually started drinking his own blood, but she later intervened and ensured that Ngum stopped drinking his own blood. Njie said Solo Sandeng told her that she should tell Ousainou Darboe to take care of his family. She said she later heard Solo Sandeng screamed and later the officer told his colleagues that he had brought an Onion which they should slice.
She said a man hit her on her head and she also fought back. At this juncture, according to the witness Solo Sandeng was lying down helpless and could not get up. She added that the NIA operative slapped her severely and broke her finger as well, but she forced herself to replace it.
Mrs. Njie testified that they dragged Solo Sandeng and wrapped him like a corpse with clothing and when the NIA doctor examined him, it was confirmed that he was dead.
She said she was still lying on the floor motionless and the NIA operatives became terrified thinking that she had also died. She said they poured cold water on her to enable them know whether she was alive, but as soon as they poured the water on her, she shook her head to signal to them that she was alive.
“They thought I was not hearing their conversation, but I actually heard all they said and I was seeing what they were doing to Solo Sandeng,” Njie told the TRRC.
She said she was later dragged to where Fatomatta Jawara and Fatounatta Camara where. She said before they were taken to Mile II, both Mrs. Jawara and Mrs. Camara fainted and they were admitted at the NIA for 14 days prior to their evacuation to Mile II.
The former April 14 survivor recollected that they were remanded at Mile II briefly and they were later moved to Janjangbureh Prisons. She said while at Janjangbureh Prisons, she was hospitalized at the Bansang Hospital as a result of dizziness.
On the impact of the incident, Njie said there is nothing she can do for herself now, adding that her business also got ruined. The Mandinary born said the challenge she is facing now is as a result of the torture meted out by agents of the NIA. She testified she was involved in business and she used to travel to Dakar to buy materials and resell them in The Gambia, but she can’t do that anymore. She said prior to that, she was teaching women tie and dye and batik.
She said she is unable to use her hands and feet to do work because her hand was broken, adding that her eyes are not also good.