By Yankuba Jallow
Ebou Jarju’s 7 years work at the State House as a Steward responsible for serving former President Yahya Jammeh and his family with food and water came to an end with accusation that he attempted to poison the ex-dictator.
Jarju spent over fifty months at Banjul Police Station and Mile 2 central prisons. The long serving Steward turned waiter on Thursday, 27th February 2020 told the TRRC that he spent nine (9) months and two weeks and also three and a half years at Mile II without a charge.
He said in March 2001, he was appointed a waiter at the State House was attached to the President’s residence. He said at this time, ex-General Lang Tombong Tamba was the Commander of the State Guard. The witness said Lang Tombong told him to be secretive and let him not disclose anything he sees to anyone.
He said at the time he was working at the State House, he was residing in Banjul near the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
“I started working at this house for 4 to 5 months without a salary,” the witness said.
He said after this period, he was given an appointment letter by the Personnel Management Office (PMO) on the 18th July 2002. He said he was appointed as a Steward at the State House. The witness told the Commission that even though he was appointed as a Steward, he was performing the role of a waiter. He said he was not a cook at the State House.
“My job at the State House was to give food and water to the President and his family as well as his guests. I used to serve cabinet meetings with food and drinks,” the witness said.
He said he used to serve the President food and water when he had visitors including presidents of other nation-states. He added that whether inside the State House or outside, he was responsible for serving food and water to the President. He said he worked with Nyima Ceesay for 2 years, Lamin Jammeh, Tijan Bojang and one Egyptian man as Steward at the State House. He said the cooks for ex-President Jammeh were a younger sister of Susan Wafia Ago, Sheikh Sanyang, Isatou Jammeh and Alieu Tamba, a relative of Lang Tombong Tamba. He said one of the cooks was an Egyptian.
“We have different workers at the State House. We have Gambians, Egyptians, Indonesians and Moroccans,” he said.
The witness said the Gambian employees were paid by the Government, but the other nationalities were paid by the ex-President himself.
“I used to stand beside the cooks to monitor them. I used to taste the food first before the President was served. This was to ensure that it was good for him to consume,” the witness said.
He said: “Let me make this clear, the President does not drink water from the Gambia. He used to import water. He used to import French mineral water.”
The witness said the President does not have confidence in drinking Gambian water because he feels that it was unsafe.
He said ex-President Jammeh pretends to the public that he was good, but when he is at home (at the State House), he was rude to them and he was too insulting.
“Yahya Jammeh was erratic. He was playing with the mind of the public. He (Yahya Jammeh) was not truthful at all,” the witness said.
He said Jammeh used to insult their parents. He said the orderlies were the ones who suffered in his hands the most.
“Sometimes he (Jammeh) used to beat the orderlies with a stick called ‘Karawas’. If he goes out to check on his orderlies and found them sleeping, he would use mosquito spray on them and would sometimes pour water on them,” the witness said.
He said former President Jammeh used to beat security personnel with a stick during nationwide tours.
He said ex-President Jammeh’s meet with the people tour used to be characterised with accidents and deaths. He said in one of the orderlies, one Kodou said the President should be advised to stop throwing biscuits because people were dying. He said after making this comment, Kodou was transferred the following day.
“The President was aware of what was happening. He knew about the deaths and accidents,” the witness said.
The witness said he has witnessed several incidents of accidents and deaths by the President’s convoy. The witness said whenever a vehicle in the Presidential convoy hits a person, they will continue with their trip while the ambulance will pick the victim and take the person to the nearest hospital.
“Security personnel were also victims of the Presidential convoy,” the witness said.
He said they (the convoy) used to hit motor cycle riders and pedestrians.
“The accidents and deaths were many,” the witness said.
He said the ‘Junglers’ killed one Ceesay because one of Yahya Jammeh’s Marabouts called Tambajiro told the ex-President that Ceesay was having a bottle inside his stomach and that he he was planning to kill Jammeh. He said Yahya Jammeh was having his personal cameraman who used to take photos of torture sessions at the NIA. He added that during the 2009 witch-hunting exercise, this cameraman was going round taking photos and videos for the ex-dictator.
He said false accusation was levied against him after his re-arrest. He said a search was conducted at his house and they found mosquito spray which they said he wanted to use to poison the ex-President. He said he was interrogated at the Anti-Crime Unit at the police headquarters but he was not charged. He said he was detained at the Police headquarters for nine months two weeks.
He said he was released after nine months two weeks and he went home. He said in his time of detention at the police, he was refused family access.
“It was only Foroyaa that was talking about me; they (the government) don’t want to see my family,” the witness said.
He said when he was released, he went home and found that both his father and mother passed away. He said he was told his father died in January 2011 and his mother died in February 2012.
He said Yahya Jammeh used to cook and give out charity every day at the State House. He said Yahya Jammeh used to put charms in people’s food especially senior security chiefs.
He said after he was released, he went to exile and came back in 2017 after Jammeh was defeated at the polls.
Jammeh’s relation with women
He said the former President used to drink ataya and as the waiter, he was supposed to serve him ataya but in most of the cases, Jammeh will prefer to be served by ladies mainly soldiers. The witness said whenever a lady takes ataya to the ex-President, they used to spend some time together and according to the witness, there is a possibility that he was having sexual affairs with them.
“How can he ask ladies to serve him attaya late at night?” the witness asked, adding that “Jammeh used to handpick ladies to have affairs with particularly those fair in complexion.”
The witness told the Commission that he knows more than 40 women who used to serve the former President with ataya.
About the witness
Ebou Jarju was born in Kombo Darsilami in 1966. He said he is a trained waiter and has worked at the BB Hotel as waiter, Bar and Restaurant Cashier at African Village Hotel and he has served as a senior waiter at Palma Rima Hotel. He said in 1996 he began his own business of operating a Telecenter in Sintet.
He said currently, he operates as a motor cyclist carrying people from one place to another.