Friday, July 30, 2021

TRRC: UDP’s Treasurer Alleges Torture at NIA


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By Yankuba Jallow

Amadou Sanneh, the national treasurer of the United Democratic Party has on Tuesday made a detailed testimony about his treatment at the NIA.

Sanneh, a one-time Minister of Finance in a government that replaced the former regime appeared before the TRRC on Tuesday, 11th June 2019 as the second witness in the 5th session of the public hearings of the Commission.

The ex-Minister of Finance told the Commission that he joined the UDP soon after its formation in 1996. He detailed that he has contested for the National Assembly seat for the Upper Fulladu Constituency thrice but lost all. He said he lost in those three elections because of the hostile environment that existed at that time. He adduced that, “it is more of an environment of terror and harassment against the UDP.” He said the UDP was denied permit by the police to hold meetings.

He said the government then used the security forces as agents of torture and harassment of their political opponent particularly the UDP. He added that they were denied television and radio coverage of their programmes by the former government.

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He said Momodou Bojang, the then Commissioner of CRR used to threaten the people of his Division using armed soldiers who would go round and tell people to vote for the APRC or else face the consequence of failure to vote for the regime.

He said he joined the UDP campaign team in Tallinding on the 22nd September 1996 as they were heading to Banjul to hold a meeting there. He said his vehicle was the lead vehicle of the campaign while they were heading to Banjul. He said on their way to Banjul, security vehicles overtook them and mounted a checkpoint at the Denton Bridge waiting for them. Upon arrival at the Denton Bridge, his vehicle, as well as other vehicles of the convoy, was disembarked. He said he saw Yankuba Touray in a military outfit. He adduced that these soldiers released gunshots in the air and fired over them. He added that they were undressed and laid on the floor.

“The soldiers walked on our back while they were beating us all over our bodies,” he said.

After this, Sanneh said they were transported to Marina Parade in Banjul where they repeated similar torture on them. He said he sustained injuries on his back and his head was swollen. He said he managed to escape and sought refuge in a local hotel in Banjul until the following morning when his family sent him a vehicle that came and picked him.

He said two days later, he was arrested and detained at the NIA for 18 days and denied the chance to vote in the 1996 presidential elections. He said his brother Njundu Sanneh came to the NIA to inquire about his whereabouts but one Foday Barry an operative of the agency ordered for his arrest and his detention.

“My brother was detained and spent the night in the cell at the NIA,” Sanneh said.

He said throughout his detention, he was never provided medical care.

He said while at the NIA, he was allowed a shower but not changing clothes. He added that he was not allowed visitation by his family and lawyers.

In the year 2002, he said the UDP went on a tour in the Upper River Region adding that he was in the same vehicle with the party Secretary-General, Ousainou Darboe. He said while they were on their way to Kulari, they were ambushed and attacked by people who were hiding in the bush. He said the attackers started pelting stones on their convoy, including the vehicle he was. Quickly, Sanneh said their driver made a U-turn, while the disturbance continued.

He told the TRRC that a government vehicle was damaged but he does not know which of the group actually damaged it.

“I can say it was burnt during the fight. The vehicle was used as a weapon for the attackers. I don’t know which group burnt the vehicle. It was a government vehicle but in this instance, it was a weapon used by the attackers,” Sanneh said.

He said the attackers were armed with cutlasses and razor blades but they were apprehended by the UDP militants.

“We took the three attackers that we apprehended them to the Basse Police Station with their cutlasses and the razor blades,” he said.

Sanneh adduced before the Commission that the attackers were prepared by the APRC militants in Basse.

He said throughout his services as a UDP militant, he has never seen them loading their vehicles with weapons or stones geared towards creating a disturbance. He said the UDP militants are known for being peaceful people.

He said there was a man allegedly killed during the fight.

“It was bushy and we couldn’t see who beat who or who killed who. The environment was such that we couldn’t see those fighting because it was bushy,” Sanneh stated.

He said after making the report to the Basse Police Station, about 80 to 100 UDP militants were detained at the said Station for over a week. He said they were subsequently charged with the murder of the man who allegedly was murdered during the fight between the APRC and the UDP supporters. He said after the charge, they were arraigned before Magistrate Bory Touray of the Basse Magistrates Court who ruled that his court does not have the jurisdiction to hear murder trial. The Magistrate transferred the case to the Banjul High Court where they obtained bail. Sanneh said after a long trial, they succeeded in their ‘no case to answer’ submission in which the matter was struck out of court for lack of merit.

In September 2013, he said he was arrested by the NIA and detained for writing a letter of asylum attestation for one Malang Fatty. Sanneh told the TRRC that the attestation was to support an asylum.

He said while at the NIA, the then Director-General Yankuba Badjie chaired a meeting along with his senior management staff asking him to make a public apology to ex-President Yahya Jammeh. Sanneh said he refused their request. He said there was a night, when a group of ‘junglers’, as well as NIA agents, tortured him by beating him all over his body.

“I almost passed out,” Sanneh said.

A video that was broadcast by GRTS was played showing Sanneh struggling to speak. Sanneh told the TRRC that he wasn’t aware of this video adding that at the time he was making this video, he wasn’t conscious.

“I never thought I gave an interview. I was not even myself because I have never accepted an interview. The video was taken after torturing me,” Sanneh said.

He tendered his clothes during his stay at the NIA as exhibits which were all admitted into the records of the TRRC.

He said he spent over a month at the NIA under horrible condition. He said they were taken to court one morning and charged with several counts including sedition. He said after his lawyers’ ‘no case submission’ failed, he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment term by Justice Nkea. He added that after the change of government, he was pardoned by President Adama Barrow after serving 3 years out of the 5-year jail term.

He said the AFPRC members pay no regards to the established procedures whenever they need something.

“They have no respect for the established regulations. They were authoritarian and wouldn’t listen to people,” Sanneh detailed.

He said he was born on the 28th August 1958 in Bansang village in the Upper Fulladu District. He said he is a professional accountant and a politician.

Educational Background and Career

He attended Basanag Primary, he proceeded to the Crab Island Junior School, then Nusrat High School and finally to Gambia High School. He said he is a professional chartered accountant and holds a master’s degree in business administration.

He said he has served the government in various positions such as accountant general, financial adviser at the Office of the President, Permanent Secretary II at the Ministry of Trade, Director of the GTSC, Director General of the Gambia Investment Board among others.

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