2017 In Brief: Security Officers In Detention Without Trial

By: Mustapha Jallow

Corporal Lamin Nyassi

There are at least twenty three soldiers in custody for more than seventy two hours without being brought before a court of competent jurisdiction.

This is contrary to the Constitution which states under section 19 that person arrested must either be released or brought before a court within 72 hours. However this provision of the Constitution has not been complied with as members of the security forces have been detained beyond the 72 hour limit during the course of 2017.

Some of the detained soldiers have been allegedly accused of killings while others have been arrested and rounded-up on ‘WhatsApp’ allegations.

General Masaneh Kinteh, the GAF headman has been quoted by Radio France International saying “these are complex issues linked to the security of the country. There was sufficient justification to go beyond the length of detention. But of course they will not remain incarcerated indefinitely.’’

Lance Corporal Sambujang Bojang, a serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), has been in detention for more than 4 months. He was picked up by the military police on 12th July 2017, and is currently under detention at Fajara Barracks without court appearance. On Monday 31st July, a senior soldier took him to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), where he was allegedly tortured. At a stage he was admitted at a military clinic in Fajara with bruises on hands and feet. Mrs. Sunkaru Jarju said her husband was still held and none took him to a court of Law. She continued calling for the release of her husband. LCpl Bojang was discharged from the clinic and returned to his detention cell at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks on Friday, 11th August 2017, at around 3pm. When contacted on the issue, the NIA boss said LCpl Bojang’s matter was under investigation but since he made those remarks to date, nothing further has been stated.

Staff Sergeant Abdoulie Jammeh, nephew of former President Jammeh, is still detained for more than two months now, at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks.  He was arrested at the Farafenni Camp on 16th of September 2017, then briefly held in a military cell before being transported to Fajara Barracks on 17th September, where he is held to date without trial.

“Since his arrest we couldn’t establish the reason behind his detention. I’m lonely here with our new born baby,’’ the wife told this medium. “He was led into a waiting military vehicle and escorted to Fajara to continue his detention,” source said. Ssgt. Jammeh’s arrest and subsequent detention coincides with his wife’s delivery of a baby boy.

Staff Sergeant Malick Bojang, also a serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces, has been in detention without court appearance since on Monday, 14 August 2017.

According family members their loved one is still held for more than 4 months without any regular access or release. They also urged the authorities to free him for the sake of his young family.

It was reported that Ssgt. Bojang was picked up at the home village of former President Jammeh in Kanilai on Monday 14th August 2017, and was escorted to Defence Headquarters in Banjul and later taken to the Yundum military camp, amidst ‘WhatsApp’ allegations.

Corporal Baboucarr Sanneh alias ‘Nyakareh’ was arrested while on leave and he is still under detention without trial. The resident of Lamin village was detained since on Friday 7th July 2017, after receiving a phone call that he should report to the Fajara Barracks; that on arrival he was taken to a cell. Mrs. Rohey Jarju, wife of ‘Nyakareh’ said since her husband told her that he was going to answer to the authorities, he didn’t return home but was later informed that her husband was put under custody of the military police.

‘‘Nothing is new up to date. He is put at one place for more than five months,’’ she said. She said they were allowed access to him but they are still in a state of trauma about the long period he has spent in Fajara camp.

Corporal Lamin Gibba, was also arrested and still detained at Yundum Barracks for nearly 5 months without being brought to court. He was picked up at Farafenni Military Camp and escorted to Yundum Barracks in July 2017.

Corporal Gibba, a native of Bajagarr village in Foni Kansala district was arrested in connection to ‘WhatsApp’ allegations.  Before his detention, he was one time attached to the military signal unit in Farafenni camp but was eventually arrested and taken to Yundum. Up to date there is no charge preferred against him.

A former Adjutant of the Gambia National Guard (GNG) Lieutenant Yaya Jammeh and his brother, Beray Jammeh, an ex- Aide de Camp (ADC), all brothers to former President Jammeh, are said to still be in the custody of the military police without any court action. Family sources say that access is still granted to them but they are not comfortable with the manner they’ve been detained and still held beyond 72 hours.

It could be recalled that the two Kanilai natives were arrested on the 15th July 2017, amidst the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations and taken to the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks, where they spent days before being transferred to another detention center within the country. Lt. Jammeh was led into a waiting military police vehicle that escorted him to Yundum Barracks to continue his detention, whilst Captain Beray Jammeh, a bodyguard and brother to former President Jammeh, was also taken to the Navy headquarters in Banjul, where he is currently detained.

Lieutenant Abdoulie Jarju, and Corporal Lamin Nyassi are detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks whilst Mbemba Camara was moved to Yundum Barracks, where he is continuing his detention.

They were arrested on 13th July 2017, allegedly accused of being part of the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations. They have been in detention for more than 72 hours. However, sources disclose that some of the detainees were allowed access to family members while others were given limited access to their relatives.

Lance Corporal Abba Badjie and Deeno Sanneh, were picked up in connection with the ‘WhatsApp’ allegations and are still in detention at the Fajara Barracks without seeing a Lawyer.

It was reported that the two were arrested on the same day and taken to Fajara Barracks since the beginning of July 2017. Sources indicate that the two soldiers are part of the escort team of the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS Masanneh Kinteh.

Pa Sanneh, Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1) of the Gambia National Army, was arrested and detained at Yundum Barracks since March 2017, but he was later moved to the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks to continue his detention. Military sources inform this medium that WOC1 is still under detention and the military police have opened doors for family members to have access to him.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1), Alieu Jeng and Warrant Officer Class 2 (WOC2) Abdoulie Jallow, alias ‘Jallino’, both serving members of the Gambia Armed Forces, are also held up to date. The two warrant officers were picked up and detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks for months before being transferred recently in 2017, to the Yundum Barracks, where they are continuing their detention.

Reports indicate that WOC1 Jeng was residing in Hamza Barracks with his family and was at one time, attached to the former Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy.  ‘‘Jeng and Jallow were part of the Darfur contingent but were suddenly dropped and arrested a week before the contingent left for Sudan,’’ sources reveal.

Despite their family members having access to them, their detention has passed the 72 hours deadline as indicated in section 19 of the constitution.

Lieutenant Malick Jatta, a Commissioned Officer of GAF was arrested and detained and accused of taking part in the assassination of former veteran Journalist and others, which according to investigators, Jatta had confessed to. Since his arrest in February 2017, the officer is still in detention without any court appearance even though family members have access to him. He was detained at the Yundum Barracks for 4 months until recently in July 2017. He is among those soldiers who were moved to Fajara Barracks, where he is presently held.

Staff Sergeant Amadou Badjie and Staff Sergeant Omar aka ‘Oya’ Jallow were arrested since February 2017 and allegedly accused of murder. The two officers are still under detention without charge. They were first detained at the Yundum Barracks until their transfer to Fajara Barracks in July 2017.

In March 2017, the two officers are said to have told police investigators that they have participated in the summary execution and burial of Lance Corporal Tumani Jallow and one businessman, Abdoulie alias Abdou Gaye.

Warrant Officer Class 1 (WOC1) Mr. Ismaila Jammeh was also arrested and detained at the Yundum Barracks since Friday, 17th March 2017. Investigators accused him of participating in the summary execution of Lt. Ebou Lowe.

Mrs. Fatou Sanyang, wife of the detained officer has desperately decried the unlawful detention of her husband. She said up to date, the situation remains the same and they do not know why the authorities are still holding him.

‘‘We want the authorities to release him because he is a family man whose children are concerned about their father and they keep enquiring when he will return,’’ she said.

It was reported that Jammeh’s arrest came after he closed from work at Yundum Barracks around 1pm; that upon arrival at home in Kotu, he received a phone call from Captain Alagie Njie, the Military Police Commander at Yundum, that he should return to Barracks. The wife said his husband complied and returned without delay.

‘‘On arrival he was told that he was under arrest and since then he has been held at the barracks. I was in a state of trauma when I received the information that my husband was arrested. He left 7 children at home and it has not been easy for me as their mother. So, I’m therefore calling on the authorities, to release our breadwinner, as we are in the holy month of Tobaski,’’ she said. However, Mrs. Jammeh said military the authorities have allowed them to be visiting and communicating with him by phone at his place of detention.

Two members of the Gambia Armed Forces, Staff Sergeant Lamin Badjie and Lamin Sambou were also arrested and are still held since March 2017. However, the two are allowed family access at their place of detention.

Sources close to the two, earlier said SSgt. Badjie was also part of the Darfur contingent but was later dropped, arrested and detained at the Guards Battalion in Fajara Barracks. For SSgt. Sambou, sources say he was moved to Yundum Barracks following his arrest.