From Holding Gov’t Office
By Mustapha Jallow
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has recommended in its recent report submitted to President Adama Barrow, a ban on former Inspector General of Police Ensa ‘Jesus’ Badjie, who currently serves as Police Commissioner for Upper River Region (URR), and Omar Jawo, former Commanding Officer of Barra Police Station, from serving in the security services or holding any Government office for their alleged cruel roles in Jammeh’s witch-hunting exercise, and the perpetration of other human rights abuses by them.
“Ensa Badjie and Omar Jawo, should be banned from serving in the security services or holding any public office in the civil service or Government in general,’’ the Truth Commission’s report indicated.
The Commission further found that former president Jammeh had a strong belief in superstition and supernatural activities. The report claimed that Jammeh was using the powers of the state to carry out state sponsored witch hunting exercise, which he believed, would purge the country of witches and wizards.
“The witch hunting exercise started in Kanilai and Sintet in 2008 and expanded to Government institutions and surrounding villages in the Kombos in 2009. Gambian citizens were abducted from Sintet, Jambur, Essau, Barra, Makumbaya, Galoya as well as other villages in Foni,’’ the report said.
Other reported witch-hunting exercises occurred at the headquarters of the Gambia Armed Forces, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Gambia Police Force (GPF), Banjul Fire Brigade and the Abuko Abattoir (GAMTEL), the Truth Commission indicated in their report; adding the witch hunters carried out their exercise with the assistance of the APRC militia group called the ‘green’ boys and girls, armed police and military officers. It also added that the victims of the exercise were generally elderly people. However, the report said there was a rare case of a pregnant woman and a student, where the victims were forcefully detained for several days and forced to drink bitter or unpleasant herbal concoctions believed to have been made from “Kubejara”, a local hallucinogenic plant which is poisonous and very harmful to the body; indicating that some victims were reported to have been tortured to force them to comply with the witch hunters. The witch hunting exercise according to the Truth Commission report, was one of the most widespread and heinous violation which targeted the older and less privileged members of society.
In their report, the Truth Commission indicated that former IGP Ensa Badjie testified before them and said he received a call from former president Yahya Jammeh, informing him (Badjie) that the witch-doctors and their entourage were on their way to the Police HQ and ordered total compliance with the instructions of the witch hunters; that anyone who defies should be dismissed.
At Police HQ, the Truth Commission said former IGP Ensa Badjie instructed for the names of people who were identified as witches and wizards to be written down, saying Ken Mendy, an officer listed ten (10) names.
“The evidence shows that several more people were pointed out as witches and wizards and their names taken down. The list was handed over to former IGP Ensa Badjie who claimed to have handed it over to former president Jammeh,’’ the TRRC indicated in their report.
However, according to the Truth Commission, the list remains unaccounted for and the former IGP Ensa Badjie later explained that he had misplaced the list and did not in fact hand it over to Jammeh as he previously claimed, but rather the names on the said list were read out to former President Jammeh during an early morning phone conversation which he and former President Jammeh had, when Jammeh called him.
The Truth Commission went to indicate in their report that afterwards, the team of witch-hunters went through all the offices within the Police HQ led by the former IGP Ensa Badjie, Ken and other senior members of the GPF; adding thereafter, former IGP Ensa Badjie instructed RSM Abdou Colley to assemble the men in a parade, where he addressed them about the purpose of the witch hunter’s visit.
“He (IGP Badjie) informed them that the witch hunters were sent by Jammeh to identify officers who were witches and wizards and those picked out, would be given doses of a drink and would be bathe in a witchcraft cleansing ritual. He warned them to comply or be dismissed as instructed by Jammeh,’’ the report said.
The TRRC report further said Omar Jawo, former OC of Barra Police station admitted that he participated in the arrest of innocent Gambian civilians in branding them as witches and wizards, and admitted that it was unlawful to corral people and accuse them of witchcraft.
The Truth Commission report continued that some of the people accused of being witches were tortured or received inhuman treatment, while some were executed by Jammeh’s death squad referred as the ‘Junglers’.