By Yankuba Jallow
Lamin Jobe, an ex-employee of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) said he was detained, beaten and electrocuted at the NIA for supporting the UDP.
Jobe appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Monday, 24th February 2020. The Commission is investigating past human rights violations that happened in the Gambia from 22nd July 1994 to January 2017.
The 55 – year – old was arrested in 2002 by the paramilitary at a UDP meeting ground in Banjul and taken to the Banjul Police Station where he was detained. He told the Commission that the personnel from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) came to the meeting ground and found them arranging the seats for the people before they come to the meeting ground. He said he was the leader of those doing the work. He said when the PIU personnel arrived, they were armed and masked.
“The paramilitary personnel told us that the meeting was not going to hold and we told them that we have obtained permit from the police to hold the meeting. They told us they have orders that the meeting should not hold. We told them that the meeting must take place,” he said.
The witness said the paramilitary came forcefully to them and began beating them.
“After they attacked and beat us. This was when our people began attacking them and this was the time they began arresting us,” the witness said.
The Banjul born said he was arrested together with his colleagues and they began to torture them. He said they were also tortured in the vehicle as they were being taken to the Banjul police station.
He said they were over fifty in the cell. He said he was once tortured inside the cell by security personnel with the use of baton and pipes.
The Banjulian said he spent eight nights at the station and they were granted bail by the police. He said he was not charged and was not taken to any court of law. He said the case died out after he was going to report at the police station.
He said in 2003, he began working at the Gambia Ports Authority as a Seaman. He said in 2011, he was working at the Ferry at the Banjul – Barra. He said while working at the Ferry, he used to give the leader of the United Democratic Party, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe ‘VIP treatment’ and he used to ensure that all vehicles in the UDP convey are on board.
“I was targeted because of my membership of the UDP,” he said.
He said his support to the UDP was not concealed and he has been a member of the UDP since 1996.
“Politics is in my system. I can’t hide my support for the UDP,” the witness said.
Lead Counsel Essa Faal told him that rules in the public services indicate that he should not publicly made known his political allegiance or actively engage in politics.
“Yes, that is true,” the witness said.
“You will agree with me that you have violated the rules of public services in the Gambia,” Faal said.
“Yes, I agree. I know that and I know I was violating the rules,” the witness said.
He informed the Commission that the GPA management wasn’t happy with him because of his opposition to ex-President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh.
He said on the 31st September 2011, he was called by Director General of the GPA, Modou Lamin Gibba, who informed him that he has received several complaints about him. He told the Commission Gibba told him that he was going to ensure that the NIA arrest him.
He said in the evening, he was arrested by operatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He said a polythene bag was put over his head and he was taken to the NIA headquarters while he was put in cuffs. He said at the NIA, he met Foday Barry, a senior NIA officer.
“Foday Barry told me after we part ways I won’t have any use to my wife,” the witness said.
He said at the NIA, he was searched and his properties were taken from him including his UDP membership card. He said he was taken to an office where he found four drunken men. He said the four men were having some crates of alcohol and they were drinking.
He said he was asked to undress and they began torturing him at around 1 am with the use of truncheons. He said he sustained laceration all over his body. He said after the beating, they asked him to stretch his legs and whenever they spoke, they put off the cigarettes on his leg. He said after putting off 15 sticks of cigarettes on his legs, he was dressed and returned to the cell. He explained that cold water was poured on the floor and he was asked to lie on that floor. He added that this was how he developed chronic pneumonia
He said during his 2 months detention at the NIA, he was electrocuted and Foday Barry was the one supervising his torture.
“I was electrocuted on my private part. Counsel, I am finished. They used both positive and negative wires on my body. I lost my manhood. My wife has left me,” he said.
He said he was tortured four times at the NIA. He said they used to give him half bread with mayonnaise before and after the torture. He said he was moved to Mile II at the Remand Wing where he was detained. He said he was released without any charge. He added that he was not taken before a court of law.
He said he was dismissed from the Ports in the same year.
April 2016 Protest
He said he was part of the group of protesters in April 2016 led by the Executives of UDP. He said they were demanding for Solo Sandeng’s body death or alive. He said on the protest day, he went to Westfield at the Nawec junction waiting for his leaders because he got prior information that they were coming there. He told the Commission while standing there; he got the information that the protesters including the UDP leader and his executive members were intercepted by the paramilitary. He said the paramilitary arrested Lawyer Ousainou Darboe together with all their Executive Members who were there.
He said about 2000 people were standing at the Nawec junction. He said they were attacked by the paramilitary.
“They were jumping on us and this was when the soldiers came with their military vehicle,” he said.
He said while standing, he was hit by a weapon on his face and he fell down.
“Lamin Colley hit me with his gun and I fell down. I fell in the ditch near Nawec and they were beating me. I lost my front teeth. They held my head and they were smashing it in the mud. This was how I have a problem with my vision. Now I don’t see at night,” the witness said.
He said he ran into the crowd and went through Jakaranda.
“I escaped,” he said.
He said he went to a private clinic on the following day and got treatment.
“My finger was broken,” the witness said.
He said he treated himself until he was healed. He added that there was a day when two NIA operatives came for him at home and took him to their headquarters in Banjul. He said he wasn’t detained this time.
Jobe has been reinstated at the Gambia Ports Authority in 2018.