DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL AND DISPPEARANCE WITHOUT TRACE PERSIST IN THE GAMBIA

By Mustapha Jallow

Detention 4

Foroyaa has been reporting on people who were reported to have disappeared or held in incommunicadodetention in The Gambia by security agents for periods ranging from 9 years to 48 days. These victims of human rights violations and impunity include the parents, children and relatives of people who were said to be linked to the 30 December 2014 armed attack on state house in the capital city of Banjul. Some of them are being held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the central prison at Mile Two, as confirmed by their relatives. One of them, Mr. MamburyNjie, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of the current regime, is presently admitted at the Serekunda General Hospital under guard.

Families of the victims, who are husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, are traumatised by the long detention without trial and denial of access to their loved ones.

Below is an update of the long list of people who have disappeared or are being detained at the various detention centres:

110 DAYS IN DETENTION – Meta Njie, the mother of Lt. Col. LaminSanneh, the alleged ring leader of the December 30th 2014, attack on the State House in Banjul who was reported killed during the exchange of fire, is held incommunicado at the National Intelligence Annecy (NIA) in Banjul.

She was reported to have been picked up by four men in plain clothes on Thursday afternoon at her home in FajiKunda Dumos and detained since on 1 January 2015.

93 DAY IN DETENTION: Alhaji Kebba Touray, who runs a clearing and forwarding agency and said to be sick and bed-ridden at the time of his arrest, is still being held incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul.

According to a family source, Mr. Touraywas picked up around 2pm on Saturday, 24 January, 2015 at his residence at Tobacco Road in Banjul by men who identified themselves as agents of the NIA who asked him to accompany them to a meeting at state house. Since then he has not been accessed by the family.

In 2009, Mr. Touray was arrested and later released in the wake of the arrest of Lt. Gen. Lang TombongTamba, a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and seven others who were all tried and later sentenced to death.

109 DAYS IN DETENTION – Mr. Bai Jobe Njie, a driver at the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), was picked up on Friday, 2 January 2015, at his residence in Tallinding, by two men in plain clothes and then whisked away.

Mr. Njie is the father of Modou Njie, the captured ex-Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) soldier, who was convicted for his alleged involvement in the insurgency on 30 December 2014 and sentenced to death by a court martial in Bakau that was not opened to the media for coverage.

According to a family source, Mr. Njie (father) is still held at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul.

110 DAYS IN DETENTION – Yusupha Lowe, who is a 13 year old boy, and his uncle Pa Alieu Lowe, a 19 year old teenager, are held incommunicado since 1 January 2015 when they were picked up around 3pm at their family residence in Lamin village by men in plain clothes who claimed to have got their orders from the Office of the President, according to a family source.

Yusupha and Pa Alieu are the son and younger brother, respectively, of Baboucar ‘Bai’ Lowe, a former Warrant Officer Class 2 of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), who was based in Germany and is alleged to be involved in the 30 December 2014 attack on State House.

The two were arrested together with Madam Jariatou Lowe, the former wife of Bai Lowe, who was later released after having been in incommunicado detention for 36 days.

The two boys were at one point reported to be released but which was later denied by the family.

It has been reported that the family is very concern over the education of both Yusupha and Pa Alieu, who are students that are still going to school, and which is being jeopardized by their continued detention without access to their family.

 110 DAYS IN DETENTION – EssaBojang and FatouSonko, father and mother of the late DawdaBojang, a former member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), who was reported killed in the 30 December 2014 insurgency, are still being held incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) headquarters in Banjul.

According to a family source, the couple was arrested at their home village of Mbankam in the North Bank Region (NBR) on New Year’s Day by men in plain clothes who said they were from the Amdalai police station. The source noted that after several unsuccessful attempts to trace the whereabouts of the two, after having searched for them at the Amdalai, Barra and Banjul police stations, the family finally got information that the duo is held at the NIA headquarters.

Fatou, the wife who engages in horticulture, is said to be the main breadwinner, since Essa, the husband, is said to be partially disabled.

The family source said they are also claiming the body of DawdaBojang, whose corpse is said to be at the mortuary of the main hospital in Banjul.

48 DAY IN DETENTION: HarunaGassama, a native of Brikamaba in the Lower Fulladou District of Central River Region (CRR) South, who also doubles as the President of the CRR Rice Growers’ Cooperative, has been arrested and detained since Monday, 2nd

March 2015. He is said to be held at the NIA without release or charge and has been denied access to family members.

200 DAYS IN DETENTION – MrAmbuDrammeh, a mentally ill young man, is still being held incommunicado at the Mile Two prison.

According to his family, they have been denied access to him after several attempts by the prison officials who confirmed his detention there. The last unsuccessful attempt, they said, was on 25 November, 2014.

The Brikama Magistrates’ Court had earlier ordered for Mr. Drammeh

to be taken to the ‘Tanka Tanka’ Psychiatric Hospital to undergo

treatment following his arraignment by the police.

His elder brother explained that some state security agents came to their home in Farato searching for Ambu immediately before the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan in 2014. He said the security agents told them that their younger brother’s Birth Certificate and National Identity Card, together with a set of prayer beads and pair of shoes, were found at the Banjul International Airport where the presidential aircraft is parked. He said the agents waited for him until he returned home only for them to pick him up.

The elder brother said Ambu was briefly held and later released to return home and that after less than a week he left for Kerr Pateh to take local treatment; that while he was away the state security agents came for him again but were told that he had left for the village.

According to the family source, the security agents went to his village and picked him up and later brought him to Police headquarters in Banjul where he was held for only two days and then taken away. When the family checked for him at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), they were told that he was not with them. They searched for him at both the Brikama and Yundum police stations, as well as Tanka Tanka Psychiatric Hospital but without success. He was eventually traced but could not be accessed at the Mile Two central prison in the outskirts of Banjul.

202 DAYS IN DETENTION – MrMamburyNjie, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, was arrested at his residence in Brusubi and subsequently detained since Thursday, 9 October 2014.

He was initially held at the NIA headquarters in Banjul and later hospitalized at the Serekunda General Hospital under guard.

Mr. Njie had served the current APRC regime in different capacities, ranging from being secretary general and head of the civil service to state minister with key portfolios.

MrNjie was earlier arraigned at both the Banjul Magistrates’ Court and Banjul High Court to answer to several charges. He was eventually acquitted and discharged on the two counts of economic crime and neglect of duty by Justice MikailuAbdulahi of the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul on 3 July 2014.

227 DAYS IN DETENTION – Mr Seedy Jaiteh, a former Human Resource Director of Gamcel, is still held incommunicado at Mile II prison without court appearance, bail or release since on 27 August, 2014.

According to family sources, men in plain clothes, believed to be state security agents, picked him up at his residence in ManjaiKunda around mid-night and led him to a waiting vehicle in tinted glasses and without a registration number plate before whisking him away to an unknown destination.

However, after several attempts of searching for him without success at the NIA, NDEA and police detention centres, Mr. Jaiteh was eventually traced by the family at the NIA in Banjul. The source revealed that the family was initially allowed to be taking food to him but this was stopped on 2 September 2014.

The source has indicated that the family has got information that their loved one is being held at Mile II prison, but that they could not have access to him or set eyes on him.

Mr. Jaiteh is said to be married with two wives and a child.

300 DAYS IN DETENTION – Lieutenant Colonel Solo Bojang, the erstwhile Commander of the State Guards battalion in Kanilai, who was also former manager of the Kanilai Family Farms (KFF), is said to be held at the NIA detention centre in Tanji.

Lt. Col. Bojang was earlier arraigned before the Brikama Magistrates’ Court on 12 May 2014 on four counts of Abuse of office, False information, Conspiracy and Theft. He was acquitted and discharged on three counts, but convicted on the false information charge and fined D50, 000, which according to the family, was paid.

Family sources say immediately after his release, he was seen being escorted out of the courtroom by men in plain clothes and whisked away to an unknown destination. Since then his family has not set eyes on him.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: Chief EbrimaManneh, a former senior reporter attached to State House and Crime Watch Columnist of the Daily Observer Newspaper, was reported to have been picked up by security agents at his work place in Bakau on 26 July 2006. Since then, he has not been heard from or seen by his family members.

The disappearance of Chief Manneh occurred immediately after the African Union Summit hosted by The Gambia in 2006.

The desperate and aging father of Chief Manneh said his missing son is still not heard or seen. He said he has visited every known place of detention in The Gambia but could not see his son.

The Media Foundation for West Africa had filed a case for the release

of Chief Manneh at the Community Court of West Africa and the court

ordered the Gambian state to release Chief Manneh and pay him

compensation of $100,000 for unlawful detention. The response of the

government after the judgment of the court is that they do not have

Chief Manneh in their custody.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 333 DAYS:AlhagieMamutCeesay and EbouJobe, are two Gambian born US citizens, who went missing on 22 June 2013 in Brusubi while on holidays in the Gambia. Since their disappearance on that fateful day, the duo has not been seen or heard from by their respective families.

According to information, the duo was abducted from the same apartment at Brusubi on the same day and that their family members could not still locate them.

Mr. Ceesay is said to have completed his bachelor’s degree at University of Washington (Seattle) and later worked for Chevron Texaco for 11 years as an Infrastructure systems analyst. He recently obtained his MBA in 2013. He is married and has two children.

As for Mr. Jobe, he is said to have graduated from the University of Washington and worked at Wal-Mart as an Operations Manager. He is also married and has three children.

Family sources noted that the duo came to The Gambia with the intention of investing in a cashew exporting business.

A family source has indicated that the police have been informed and are fully aware of the disappearance of the duo but are yet to come up with any findings regarding their whereabouts.

The US government has been pursuing the matter with the Gambia Government and did raise the matter at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The US Charge d’Affaire said at a press conference late last year that, “As far as I know, they were picked up and disappeared and we have asked the Gambia Government to investigate.”

He disclosed that they have even offered the services of the FBI to help in locating these two US citizens and added that they will leave no stone unturned in searching for their nationals.

 

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: Mr. LaminKanyi (alias KanyibaKanyi), a native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East of the West Coast Region (WCR) and a former employee of the Christian Children Fund (now Child Fund The Gambia), was said to have been abducted on 18th September 2006 by some plain clothes security agents including a police officer in uniform. Since that fateful day, his whereabouts still remain unknown to the family.

A family source explained that Kanyiba was picked up around 9.00 pm by these men who refused to disclose the purpose of taking him away.

“The men in plain clothes then called a taxi driver who was some metres away from the scene. Within a twinkle of an eye, the taxi driver arrived and Kanyiba was forcefully pushed into the taxi and then whisked away in full view of his family, leaving the wife and family in tears,” said a family member.

It was also revealed that at the time of Kanyiba’s forced disappearance, his wife was pregnant and later delivered a baby girl who is now 10 years old and attending school.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS – Mr. LaminTunkara, a native of Kinteh-KundaMarongKunda in the Central Baddibu District of the North Bank Region (NBR), was arrested on 21st July, 2005, by a combined security team, comprising the CID (police), and NIA agents, behind the Albert Market in Banjul.

The family member claimed that his house in Tallinding was ransacked by security agents who confiscated foreign currencies i.e. CFA, US Dollars, Euros and Dalasi found there.

The member family also said Mr. Tunkara was detained at the Police headquarters in Banjul for few days and later at the Kairaba Police Station.

His family said they have no clue about his whereabouts.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS:

JisarjaKujabi, of Dobong village, in the FoniKansala District, was arrested and went missing on Wednesday, 27th of July, 2005, after his house was ransacked by three plain clothes officers believed to be NIA operatives who put him in a numberless Nissan 4 wheel vehicle with tinted glasses.

The family confirmed that their loved one was arrested in their presence by men in plain clothes who escorted him from the farm where he was found to his house for him to change his clothes. They said he assured them not to be worried as he was going to join them soon but that he was not seen or heard from since then.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS –HarunaJammeh, was arrested and went missing on the same evening as Jisarja and both were put in the same vehicle, according to family sources.

Since then, according to the family, he did return and that his whereabouts are not known.

 

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS Mrs. MasirehJammeh, alias Marcie, a former employee at the State House in Banjul and a native of Kanilai, was reported missing since 15 July 2005.

A family source said Marcie was desperately trying to locate the whereabouts of Haruna, his relative, and Jasarja, but also went missing herself when she failed to return home one evening.

She has not been heard from or seen by her family since then.

DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: AlhagieMomodouLaminNyassi, ex-Chief of FoniKansala District, NdongoMboob and AlhagieBubaSanyang, all natives of Bwiam village in the West Coast Region, were all arrested on the same evening of Tuesday, 4th April 2006, by plain clothes security agents and put into a blue numberless tinted glass vehicle that whisked them away to an unknown destination.

According to sources, the former chief of FoniKansala and NdongoMboob were both arrested when the former was conveying the latter, who had visited him at his compound. The two, however, are said to be good friends.

AlhagieBubaSanyang, alias Bubai, was also picked up from his house on the same day by three plain clothes officers who informed him that he was wanted, according to the family.

The family source indicated that this occurred immediately after Bubai had finished performing ‘Maghrib’ prayers and that he handed over his mobile phones to his wife before being taken away.

The trio has not been seen or heard from by their respective families.