Sir Jeng Explains Nogoi Njie’s Encounter with 5 Masked Men
By Yankuba Jallow & Mariama Marong
Sheikh Omar Jeng, alias Sir Jeng, an erstwhile deputy director of operations at the NIA has testified that Nogoi Njie was pushing and pulling with five masked men who he believed were Junglers.
Jeng testified on Tuesday, 15th December 2020 before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara in his ongoing criminal trial. Jeng together with ex-NIA Director General Yankuba Badjie are facing 25 criminal counts including murder, conspiracy to commit felony, assault causing serious bodily harm and torture. They all denied wrongdoing and the prosecution has called thirty-three witnesses in the case including alleged victims like Nogoi Njie, Kafu Bayo, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngom among others.
The accused persons were Yankuba Badjie, the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Sheikh Omar Jeng, ex-Director of Operations NIA, Baboucar Sallah, , Haruna Suso, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Lang Sanyang.
Below is the verbatim testimony Sir Jeng made on Tuesday, 15th December 2020. Lawyer S. Kenedy led him in examination.
Can you continue from where you stopped yesterday?
Following the reviewing of the various reports, I went ahead with my normal work until a little after midday when I had course to go into town.
Whilst inside Banjul, I received a call from the Monitoring and Emergency Room of the Agency informing me that someone had called to report a large and unusual gathering around the Westfield Cooperative Area. I then called the team leader of the patrol team around the Westfield Area and he told me that there was an ongoing protest by some people who made banners and using whistles, but he didn’t identify them at the time.
While speaking to him, the deputy director general Louise Richard Leese Gomez called me and summoned me to his office. As I was driving into the NIA headquarters, I received another call from the Director General Mr Yankuba Badjie asking about my whereabouts. I told him I was just driving in and he asked me to see the deputy director general.
When I reported to the deputy director general’s office, he asked me to find out what was happening around Westfield and I told him that I have already spoken to one member of the patrol teams who reported to me that there was an ongoing protest by some unidentified people. While speaking to the deputy director general in his office, I got a call from the patrol team at Westfield Area reporting that the protesters were UDP supporters and that the Police Intervention Unit have just arrived to disperse them. He further reported that some of them refused to disperse and the Police Intervention Unit personnel…before he could finish his statement, Lawyer Antouman AB Gaye for the State objected saying what he was saying was hearsay.
Lawyer S. Kenedy for Sheikh Omar Jeng submitted that what the witness was saying was direct evidence of facts and sequence. He referred the court to section 80 of the Evidence Act.
Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara overruled the objection because the witness was speaking directly to a member of the patrol team.
After receiving the information did you do anything?
“Yes, my lady. I reported back to the deputy director general who couldn’t hear our conversation on phone as to the identity of the protest and that the PIU office were arresting those who were not compliant with the proclamation. He [the deputy director general] told me to keep monitoring the situation and I went back to my office to await further reports from the patrol team.”
Did you eventually receive further reports?
“Yes, my lady. The patrol team further reported.”
The team leader of the patrol team [whose] name I couldn’t recall because there were four patrol teams – each with shifts and each shift has a team leader.”
What was the report that you received?
“The team leader reported that those arrested were put at a police truck and some of those who ran away were pursued and arrested and headed on foot to the PIU headquarters. He further informed me that he saw the police Inspector General of Police Yankuba Sonko, the then Minister of Interior Ousman Sonko, the then Commander of Guards Battallion Sulayman Badjie and a good number of senior security officers from various security institutions have already arrived at the PIU headquarters. I communicated this information to deputy director general and he told me to brief the director general because he had taken some of his drugs, he was a little drowsy. I reported the same information to the director general.
He [Director General Badjie] said since all those service chiefs were at the PIU headquarters, it was appropriate that he also go there. Then we drove there with our separate vehicles.”
Do you know the time you arrived at the PIU headquarters?
“I cannot remember the exact time, but it was between 1 pm and 4 pm.”
“When we arrived at the PIU headquarters, the Minister of Interior Ousman Sonko, the Inspector General of Yankuba Sonko, the Commander of the Guards Battalion General Sulayman Badjie, the Commander of the Police Intervention Unit whom I believe was Commissioner Famara Jallow at the time, deputy superintendent Majic, but I don’t know his last name. He was the deputy to Famara Jallow at the PIU. There was a large presence of security officers within the PIU Complex, the PIU were present.”
When you reached there, where were the arrested protesters?
“The arrested protesters were seated on the bare floor in a big hall inside the PIU headquarters.”
Do you know how many people were there in the hall?
“There were between 30 and 40. I saw a police officer going round with a container collecting their cell phones and other personal belongings.”
Do you recall if Solo Sandeng was part of those arrested?
Lawyer Antouman Gaye objected saying the question was leading. Lawyer Kenedy withdrew his question.
Do you know any of the protesters that were arrested at the time?
“No, my lady, at that time, I couldn’t identify any of the protesters. However, I overheard the officials saying the ring leader was one Solo Sandeng who ran away.”
Do you know whether he was eventually arrested?
“Yes, my lady. Whilst at the PIU headquarters, I saw a group of police officers numbering about five who came in with somebody who was later identified as Solo Sandeng wearing an un-button shirt and sweating profusely.”
Did anything happen?
“Yes, my lady. The Director General Yankuba Badjie called me in the office where we sat with the other service chiefs and asked if I have my personal vehicle on the ground. He told me that the IG – Yankuba Sonko said he was instructed…….”
Before he completed his statement, Lawyer Antouman Gaye objected saying the evidence was hearsay and at this point, Lawyer Kenedy reframed his question.
What were the patrol vehicles to be used for?
“He [director general Badjie] said the police said they were constraint with vehicles.”
Lawyer Gaye stood up and objected again saying it was hearsay, but Lawyer Kenedy maintained that the evidence was direct and it cannot be considered as hearsay.
Justice Sillah-Camara ruled that the evidence came from a 3rd party and thus, hearsay.
On continuation, Jeng said: “the director general told me that the vehicles were to be used to transport some of the protesters to the NIA headquarters on the behest and request of the Inspector General of Police.”
Lawyer Gaye stood up again and said “it is a tailor made evidence – we are objecting – it is hearsay.”
Lawyer S. Kenedy said the evidence was direct evidence of what the witness was told by his superior.
The trial judge overruled the objection saying the evidence was not hearsay.
Where the vehicles eventually made available?
“I provided three vehicles including my vehicle. I provided them three drivers. The Police Intervention Unit identified five of the detainees, put them on board the pickup and escorted them to Banjul at the NIA headquarters. I came to know the five protesters as Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Nogoi Njie, Kafu bayo, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngom.
The remaining protesters were also handcuffed and put on board the PIU trucks escorted by the PIU officers to the Mile 2 Central Prison.”
Do you also follow them to the NIA headquarters in Banjul?
“No, my lady. It was only the PIU officers and three of the drivers of the patrol vehicle who went with the protesters to Banjul.”
Do you eventually report back to the NIA on that day?
“Yes, my lady. I did. Immediately after they left, the security chiefs starting moving, but I waited with the patrol team, waiting for our vehicles.”
What time did you get to the NIA?
I received a call from the Communication Unit that we all have to come back and be on standby. I got to the Office at around 6 pm.
Did you observe anything after getting to the NIA headquarters?
“Yes, my lady. At the entrance, I observed the normal security protocols. As I worked to my office, at the back of the storey building from the main gate, I encountered about five masked men struggling with a woman who was later identified as Nogoi Njie and as I approached them, the woman grabbed me and started pleading in Madinka Language saying “Mbaring Ke M’makoy” meaning ‘my brother please help me’. I found it difficult to breath because she grabbed me and held me tied [while] shouting “Mbaring Ke M’makoy”. Then I asked her what is the problem and she said “these people want to take me inside and I am scared. I couldn’t identify the mask men, but given previous incidents, my instinct told me they could be members of the State House Patrol Team otherwise known as the Junglers. Then I said to the mask men, ‘please release her, let’s sit down and talk’. When I started talking to her, two of the mask men came forward and one of them said “Sir Jeng should not fuck with us we will not let this nonsense from him.” They moved in and grabbed the woman and virtually dragged her, whilst I look on helplessly.
The case was adjourned to Wednesday, 15th December 2020.