Wednesday, August 4, 2021

TRRC Witness Admits Torturing People at NIA

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By Nelson Manneh

Omar Cham, who was adversely mentioned before the Truth Commission (TRRC) as someone who violated people’s rights, including torture, has on Tuesday 12th January, 2021, accepted torturing some people at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Continuing his marathon testimony before TRRC, Cham testified he tortured Nfamara Nasso, but denied ‘touching’ Ebou Khan. 

He said there was one Pa Sanyang, who worked at the NIA who had fake coupons and took them to one Khan and they shared the money that was meant for coupons. He said as a result of that, Munirou Darboe, former NIA director ordered for the case to be investigated.

Mr. Cham admitted Pa Sanyang was supposed to be arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for causing fraud against the State, which was not done. He said in December 2019, Sanyang was working with the Police and he is still serving the current government with the rank of Inspector.

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The witness said he was part of the team that investigated Pa Sanyang and Ebou Khan, who were accused in connection with the fake coupons. He denied torturing Mr. Ebou Khan with a stick.

On the issue of Rudi Gazi and co, who were apprehended with drugs in Bonto, Cham admitted that they were tortured. He said even the NIA personnel knew that the magnitude of drugs which entered the country would not have entered without the knowledge of the top brass of the security agents. He said it is possible that the former NDLEA director Ebrima Bun Sanneh and co were tortured.

“Did you see Ebrima Bun Sanneh and co limping?” asked Counsel Faal.  “No,” said the witness.

“Did you see them bleeding?” asked lead counsel Faal. “No,” said the witness.

On the issue of babies whom one of the TRRC witnesses alleged were (mother and baby) taken to the NIA headquarters, Cham said he was not aware of such, neither did he hear about it. The witness said Sillah-Ba Samateh’s allegations that babies were taken to the NIA for sacrifice was not true. 

On the issue of the disappearance of persons, the witness said Daba Marena, Ebou Lowe, Alpha Bah were said to be transported to Janjabureh Prisons and they escaped. However, he said that was a lie from the government. 

The witness said one Mr. Harouna Jammeh was picked up by Ousman Tamba, adding that when Jalamang- a brother to former President Yahya Jammeh- went out to search for him, he met him and he (the witness) confessed to him that it was Ousman Tamba who picked him up.

NIA Involvement in Elections

According to the witness, in 2016, the government wanted the NIA to help rig the elections after Yahya Jammeh alleged that his people in URR were denied to vote.

“As a result of that, we ordered for the voter’s card of people residing in that area be brought to our office at the NIA,” he said.  

“Do you regret the tortures you did to people at the NIA?” asked Counsel Faal.

“Yes I regretted all and I am asking for forgiveness. I’m appealing for forgiveness from all my victims, including Sainabou Keita,” he said.

Dr Lamin J. Sise, the chairperson of the Truth Commission asked the witness to give the commission the various methods of torture used by the NIA, apart from electrocution, hand cuffed, leg shackles, waterboarding, monkey dance, and silence technique. 

“I personally used the silence technique, monkey dance, and my bare hands,” Cham said.

He said he regretted beating people at the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

In his concluding remarks, he took the responsibility for all the tortures that were committed by his junior officers. 

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