By Yankuba Jallow
Two victims of convoy accidents under the rule of former President Yahya Jammeh have on Monday, given testimony on their victimisation.
Musa Sallah and Abdoulie Barry testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) about their torment by vehicles belonging to the security forces.
Musa Sallah said in February 2001 he was shot by Yahya Jammeh’s squad of killers alias ‘Junglers’ at the community of Umorto. He explained that he went to Nyaireh to a marabout to seek prayers to become more popular in his photography business. He said Pa Manneh also went there for his personal business adding that on the day he was coming, he boarded Pa Manneh’s motor bicycle to return to The Gambia.
He said he was on his way coming from Nyaireh in Casamance together with Pa Manneh when the Junglers shot him. He told the Commission that Pa Manneh died as a result of the bullet while he is still suffering from the pains of the bullet. The Pakaliba born said Pa Manneh hailed from Brufut.
He said before the Junglers shot them, they were hearing gunshots in the bush and he asked the deceased (Pa Manneh) to stop but Manneh insisted that they should continue on their way because it was the rebels firing.
“I told Pa Manneh let us stop but he told me these people were rebels. He told me ‘let us go’,” the witness said.
“The bullets were coming in succession. The only thing I can remember was the bullet that hit me,” he said.
“When the bullet hit me on my back I lean on him. He told he was also shot and he also leaned on the steering wheel. Our motor bikes fell in a ditch,” he said.
He said he struggled together with Pa Manneh to get out of the ditch and when they came out, Pa Manneh died. He said the soldiers who shot them came out from the hide out and put them in a pickup and drove to Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul passing through Jiboro Police Station, Brikama Police Station and Yundum Military Barracks.
The witness told the Commission that the Junglers searched Pa Manneh and took his money, adding that the currency of the money was Dalasi.
“The bullet that hit me passed through me and killed Pa Manneh,” the witness said, adding that it was the doctor who did the x-ray who told him this.
He said he spent over a month at the hospital and on the day he was released, he was taken to the Police Headquarters where he was detained for a night in a horrible cell. He said before he was detained, Police Commissioner Jai Sowe took out his pistol and threatened to kill him.
“Jai Sowe said I am a drug dealer. I told him I am not a drug dealer. He said he will shoot me if I don’t say the truth,” the witness said.
He said his statement was taken by the narcotic officers before he was taken to the NIA headquarters. He said he was told by one of the NIA agents that he was brought to the agency because he refused to say he was caught selling cannabis with Pa Manneh. He said he was interrogated and was told to accept that he was caught selling drugs. He said from the NIA he was returned to the police headquarters at the drug squad office. He said he was put in a cell where he spent one night. He said at the time he was put in the cell his wound was not fully healed. He testified that he was put in a cell where he found some people who gave him a carton to lie down on.
He said he was told by Sanna Manjang, one of the lead Junglers that the two Junglers that shot him were Omar Jallow alias Oya and ML Tamba.
He said in the morning he was bailed by his sister. He alleged that one Pateh, a police officer asked him to pay D5000 for him to destroy the case file so that he will get his freedom. He said when he told Pateh that he was not in possession of such money, the policeman granted him self-bail. He said since that day to now the police haven’t called him for anything.
He said after this incident he couldn’t continue with photography and he became a waiter at a bar and restaurant in Kololi. He said while working in Kololi, the Junglers used to come there to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol. He said the Junglers who used to come to their bar and restaurant included Micheal Correa, Fansu Nyabally, Sanna Manjang, Omar Jallow alias Oya, Sulayman Sambou, Noah Badjie and others. Sometimes they come with two pickups, he added.
He said the Junglers always come to the bar armed and sometimes they come dressed in black-black just like the paramilitary. He told the Commission that the Junglers were called the Black Scorpions.
“They used to come to the bar to drink alcohol and smoke cannabis. They used to eat pig. They do grill pork at our bar,” the witness said.
He said he has witnessed incidences where Junglers beat narcotic personnel who come to the bar to arrest them for smoking cannabis. He said if the narcotic officers attempt to arrest the Junglers, the Junglers used to beat them and send them away.
“The junglers used to give cannabis to people. Whenever they come to the bar, people used to come there to smoke together with them and they used to give them alcohol too. Sometimes they used to give me money,” the witness testified.
He said one day while sitting with Jungler Sanna Manjang, he was told that it was Omar Jallow alias Oya and ML Tamba who shot him at Umorto. He said at the time he was being told this information by Manjang, Tamba was sitting there but he was not a Jungler at the time.
“ML Tamba told me at the time they were shooting us as we refused to stop,” he said.
He told the Commission Junglers Noah Badjie and Sanna Manjang urged him to exercise patience and they will facilitate compensation from the former President which according to the witness never materialised.
He said a man from Wales bought him a vehicle which he used to do taxi business. He said at this time he has already left the work at the bar. He explained that around the Elton Petrol Station around the roundabout in Brusubi, his vehicle was knocked by a soldier’s vehicle who disappeared after hitting his car.
“My vehicle was damaged and I had to sell it because I couldn’t repair it. I sold the engine at D40,000 and the body at D7,000,” he said.
He said at the time he purchased the vehicle, its cost was D180,000. He told the Commission after selling the vehicle, he became jobless.
He said one day he was riding a motor bike of his friend when ex-Inspector General of Police Essa Badjie alias Jesus hit the motor bike from the back and he fell. He said after knocking the motor bike the ex-IGP came down his vehicle and hit him with a pistol which still leaves a mark on his face.
For Abdoulie Barry, he said on the 29th April 2002 his vehicle was knocked by one Dawda Sanneh who was a civilian driver working with the State Guard. The Brikama born said the incident happened after St. Peters junction in Lamin Village, Kombo North District. The resident of Bundung said Sanneh hit him while his vehicle was standing 3 meters off the road.
The former welder turned driver said “When I looked at myself I realised that I was bleeding through my mouth and leg. My leg was broken. When I look around, I realised that my vehicle was surrounded by soldiers. My hip was broken and the bone came out.”
He said he was picked by the vehicle that was behind him and taken to the Banjulinding Hospital. He told the Commission that his apprentice and a lady got injured too as a result of the knock. He said his wife bought fuel for the ambulance that took him to the Royal Victoria Hospital (now EFSTH) in Banjul because they were told that the ambulance lacked fuel.
He said one Dambele, a police officer who was handling the case told him a Mitsubishi Coaster BJL 2434 A coming from Kanilai going to State House was the vehicle that knocked him. He added that the policeman told him that the driver was a civilian driving for the State Guard.
He said the driver who knocked his car visited him at the hospital to offer apology. He said the driver told him that he is driver at the State House and his name is Dawda Sanneh.
He said a bone was removed from his tight and inserted to one of his leg. He added that a metal was inserted together with the bone from the tight inside his leg.
“This is why my one leg is longer than the other,” the witness said.
He said he spent 3 months at the RVH before he was discharged.