By Nelson Manneh
A staff of the National Intelligence Agency has on Monday 11th January 2021 informed the truth commission that the charges leveled against former Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie (Jesus) were bogus because they were fabricated by investigators and the director of public prosecutions at the time.
Mr Omar Cham said he was born fifty years ago and he is residing in Kunkujang, Kombo North District, West Coast Region.
The witness said he joined the Gambia Gendarmerie in 1991 and after completing his training, he went to Turkey for training. He said he was part of the first that was sent to Turkey for training.
He said he did a special course on anti-terrorism whilst he was in Turkey, adding he came back in 1993.
Omar Cham was adversely mentioned at the TRRC by several witnesses. He is accused of participating in some of the tortures that took place at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters in Banjul.
The witness said in 1995, he was dismissed from the Gambia Gendarmerie on medical ground and in 1996 he joined the National Intelligence Agency.
In 2000, he went to Nigeria where he studied management. In 2003, he went for a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Serra Leone.
He said he was discharged from the NIA in 2011, but was reinstated in 2017.
The witness said the NIA was seen as a torture centre and there is nobody who worked at the NIA in those days who was not aware of what was happening there.
“It is possible for one to say that I was not taking part in the torturing that was taking place at the NIA, but all those who worked there knew that the NIA was a toture centre,” he said.
He said all the NIA Officers who said they did not know tortures were taking place at the NIA were not telling truth to the commission.
“Generally the NIA was a torturing centre because even if you were invited to come to the NIA, you were always afraid,” he said.
About the Farafeeni attack the witness said he was called around 3 am and told to report to the Agency’s’ headquarters in Banjul and after a while, they got information that one of the rebels who attacked the Farafeeni camp was apprehended and they were bringing him to the NIA.
He said when the alleged rebel was brought to the NIA, he was taken to the investigation unit and after a while, he heard him screaming.
The witness said at the NIA, he saw Mballow Kanteh (the alleged rebel) been tortured by NIA Officers when he was brought into the NIA. He added that he saw him being electrocuted.
Cham said alleged coup plotters in 2006 were also tortured at the NIA: that even some members of the NIA were tortured there.
He said even when he was fired by the NIA and was working with NAWEC, it was clear to him that the NIA officers were torturing people. He said senior NIA Officers like Daba Marena, Ngorr Secka and others were all tortured at the NIA.
The witness said during Jammeh’s regime most of the people who were arrested and sent to the NIA were maltreated.
The witness agreed with lead counsel Faal that during those days, the government leveled bogus charges against people and used others to give false testimony in court.
He said one Rui Jabie Gassama and others were paid and used to testify against Lang Tombong Tamba and co.
He said for Essa Jesus Badjie’s case the state wanted to use him (Cham) as a witness, but he refused to participate in Jesus’ case.
He said initially he was part of the panel that recommended charges against Jesus Badjie, but he decided not to take part in the case after they proffered charges against him.
The witness alleged that one Sillah-Ba Samateh was a criminal. According to him, Sillah-Ba went to Kairaba Supermarket, bought flour, packaged it and sold it in the name of Yahya Jammeh.
“Sillah-Ba told people that the so-called drugs were given to him by the president.”
He said Sillah-Ba continued selling the drugs until when two Nigerians reported the matter to one Pa Habib Mbye who was the crime management coordinator at the time; addong the Nigerian nationals did so because they said it was dangerous for one to be selling drugs using the name of the president.
He said Essa Badjie was not involved in taking bribes, adding he (Jesus) was soliciting money from people.
“In fact, I got a problem with the then Director of Public Prosecutions because the seventy-seven charges that were levied against Jesus Badjie were not true,” he said.
He said the reason why the state falsified a case against Jesus Badjie was to eliminate him.
He said staff at the NIA knew ‘Jungulers’ used to go there (NIA) and torture detainees. The witness denied torturing Essa Jesus Badjie at the NIA.
“If I had beaten Essa Badjie, I will accept it but I did not torture him,” he said.
Cham said there was a special operation unit at the NIA, but he was not at the NIA when the unit was put in place, adding torturing people was part of the work of the special operation unit.
The witness agreed that he was taking part on some of the torturing sessions that took place at the NIA.