By Mustapha Jallow
Former deputy minister of agriculture, Mr. Ousman Jammeh, who was released on 23 January, 2017 around 4pm said he is willing to sue ex-president Yahya Jammeh for illegally detaining him without trial and denying him access to his family and friends.
Mr. Jammeh said this during a brief interview on Friday, 27 January, at his residence in Kanifing South following his release from detention by the new government.
He told the reporter that he served as deputy agriculture minister from July 2015 to October 2015. He said that he does not know why he was arrested and detained without trial for fifteen months.
The former deputy minister recalled that it was on 15 of October 2015, while he was on his way to attend the commemoration of World Food Day as well as inaugurate an event of association of livestock farms in the Upper River Region, when he was asked to return.
“…when I reached Ginnu village, I received a phone call telling me that the protocol for the vice president would like to talk to me and she told me that she wants me to return and I should report immediately at state house. When I asked whether I can stay to attend these events, she insisted that I had to go back. So I drove back to her office and on my arrival she gave me a letter and telling me “well you have been relieved from the position of deputy minister of agriculture as order came from the president. In the letter I was told to go to the office and hand over all the documents to the newly appointed person and which I complied with. While on my way, I met some men who identified themselves as agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) at the door of the former vice president and they told me that I was under arrest and they asked me to go and stay at the NIA headquarters in Banjul,” he revealed.
Mr. Jammeh further explained that he was escorted by the operatives to his office to do the handing over, adding that it was on their way back when he told that he was under arrest and that the instruction is that he should be detained. “I asked what the reason was, but they again told me that they were only given instructions and they did not know the reason for my detention,” he said.
The former minister revealed that he was held for 91 days at NIA headquarters before being transferred to the maximum security wing at Mile Two prison where he spent one year three months with few days and he was released finally on the 23rd January.
He expressed relief that former president Jammeh has finally left power and that the people have gained freedom back. On how he felt now, Mr. Jammeh said he is very happy that the new government has facilitated his release from long detention without trial.
“I did not have access to my family, relatives or friends and efforts were made on several occasions to engage a lawyer. People will come to visit me at the prison but I’ill not have the chance to talk to them, my family could not see me for more than a year,” he told this reporter.
Dilating on his experience in the prison, former deputy agric minister said “Well, food was a problem, I was there for more than a year without eating meat,” he said.
He also lamented the poor hygienic condition of the prison.
“Well, I was managing my own conditions, as there were no enough drugs but my family usually provides them for me,’’ he revealed.