The widespread detention without trial and disappearance of Gambians without trace continue unabated as a significant number of Gambians and non-Gambians continue to be held incommunicado or disappear without access to their family and loved ones.
In this edition, we update the list of detained and disappeared Gambians, some of whom have been detained for more than a decade. Most of them were abducted and since their abduction have never been heard of or seen again.
Some are held at the NIA headquarters in Banjul or the state central prison in Mile Two. Foroyaa will continue to publish the names of persons abducted or detained beyond the 72 hours limit for the information of the public.
Families of abductees/detainees are traumatized due to the absence of their fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, uncles, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.
21 DAYS IN DETENTION: Family sources say the Managing Director of Taranga, Mr Abdouloie Ceesay who was abducted by state security agents on 2 July 2015 and released on 13 July; was again abducted and then finally detained at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul since late Friday night, 17 July 2015.
Sources have it that Mr. Abdoulie Ceesay, is still held at NIA for 21 days now without access to family members and that the authorities could not indicate to them why their loved one has been detained.
The Gambia Press Union has called for the immediate release of Mr Ceesay from custody.
A family source narrated that an official had called Mr Ceesay and suggested that they meet at a friend’s house in Latrikunda German which he did. The source added that upon his arrival at the friend’s home he was whisked away by uniformed and plain clothes officers.
Sources also say that Mr Ceesay’s home was visited on Tuesday, 21 July and his medications and medical papers were taken away. Mr Ceesay had received treatment from a private clinic after his release on 13 July 2015 by his abductors who kidnapped him on 2 July 2015.
A family source said they are not allowed to see him.
26 DAYS IN DETENTION: Two blood brothers namely Hatabu Hydara and Muhammed Fadel Hydara, alias Koto Amphal, are still detained at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) detention centre in Banjul for 19 days.
It was reported that the two brothers were arrested at different times on Thursday, 9 July 2015, by men in plain clothes at their residence in Sheriff Kunda on Jang Jang Road in London Corner, Serekunda, and then led into a waiting tinted glass four wheel vehicle and whisked away.
Muhammed Fadel, the elder brother who is said to be a marabout, was picked up by the security agents in the morning around 8 O’Clock. The younger brother, Hatabu, who is the CEO of an Islamic charity organization, was whisked away around 2pm.
When this reporter visited the offices of the Islamic charity organization at Latri Kunda German, he was told by the workers there that their Ramadan related activities, such as providing food and materials to the needy, are still on hold due to the arrest and detention of Hatabu, the organization’s head.
A family source informed this reporter that they are now allowed access to the two Hydara brothers after 5 days of incommunicado; adding that they were given access to them but that the reason behind his arrest and detention is still unknown to them.
Foroyaa was also informed that the vehicles of Hatab were later taken to the NIA head office.
156 DAY IN DETENTION: A native of Brikamaba in the Lower Fulladdu District of Central River Region (CRR) South, Mr Haruna Gassama, who is the President of the CRR Rice Growers’ Cooperative, is still held incommunicado at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) detention centre in Banjul, the capital city of the Gambia.
Family members say they have been denied access to him by the NIA; adding that their loved one is still detained though no reason has been given but that they are appealing to the authorities to help them release their loved one who is inaccessible.
Mr. Gassama was earlier arrested by the operatives of the NIA at his residence on 2 March 2015, and later taken to their headquarters in Banjul, where he is still held incommunicado without any access to his family members.
41 DAYS IN DETENTION: A Ghanaian national, Ebenezer Noumo Justice, who is a captain of a fishing trawler, is also held incommunicado at the state central prison Mile Two for 41 days without release or court appearance, according to a reliable source.
A source said the workers at the fishing trawler are right now in limbo due to the exhaustion of their foodstuff because they have over stayed in the Gambia.
Mr. Justice was said to be arrested and subsequently detained on Thursday, 25 June, 2015, at the Mile two central prison, according to a source.
The source, who works with the Captain, said they have been making some efforts to talk with the Authorities about the issue of the release of the Captain, but still nothing has materialized. He also told this reporter that the captain is still at the Mile 2 central prison.
The source also indicated that they take food for Mr. Justice at the Prison every day. He lamented the bad situation they are in, because they cannot move with the Fishing Trawler back to Senegal since it is under the Navy guards at the Fishing Jetty Wharfi Njago in Banjul.
Earlier it was reported that the captain of the trawler is working for a Chinese company called Fuyuang Yu 120 which is based in Senegal. The source, who works with the captain, said they normally come to Gambian waters for fishing, as well as other countries along the coast in the sub region.
He explained that the captain, who was lodging in a motel, was invited on Monday, 22 June, by the Marine Commander and that he spent the night there. He said on the following day, Tuesday, the captain was taken to Police headquarters in Banjul where he was detained until Thursday, 25 June, before being transferred to Mile 2 prison. He also said they were allowed to take food to him at Mile 2 on Friday. The source revealed that their fishing trawler is presently docked at the wharf.
411 DAYS IN DETENTION: A former Human Resource Director of Gamcel, Mr Seedy Jaiteh, is still under detention at Mile II prison without court appearance, bail, release or access to family members for 411 days since his abduction on 27 August, 2014 by men in plain clothes, according to a close source.
According to family sources, they went to Mile two prisons thinking that their loved one would be released after the announcement by the President that he would pardon prisoners, especially since he has been detained without being taken to court, but that he is still held incommunicado at Mile Two.
They however, appealed to the Gambian President to help them to release their loved one because he has lots of younger ones to take care of; adding that they don’t know what their loved one has allegedly committed.
Mr Jaiteh was abducted on 27 August, 2014 by men in plain clothes at his residence in Manjai Kunda around mid-night who then led him to a waiting vehicle with tinted glasses and without a registered number plate before whisking him away to an unknown destination.
However, after several attempts of search 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 now 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.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 2 YEARS:
Two Gambian born US citizens have gone missing since on 22 June 2013, according to a distraught family source.
Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe, were abducted by in men in plain clothes from their apartment in Brusubi.
Families of the two, who are said to be biologically related, are again renewing their call for both the Gambian and US authorities to help in the search and immediate release of their loved ones.
The duo was on holidays in The Gambia and had intended to invest in cashew export.
Family sources told Foroyaa that “the police have been informed and they are fully aware of the disappearance of Alhagie Mamut Ceesay and Ebou Jobe.”
The US government has been pursuing the disappearance of the two with the Gambia Government and did raise the issue at the recently concluded Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The US Charge d’Affairs in The Gambia, at a press conference late last year, also said “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 US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to help in locating these two US citizens, adding that they will leave no stone unturned in searching for their nationals.
Mr. Ceesay is said to have completed his Bachelor’s degree at University of Washington (Seattle) and had 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.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 8 YEARS: Chief Ebrima Manneh, who is a former Senior Reporter attached to State House and Crime Watch Columnist of the Daily Observer Newspaper, was arrested by state security agents at his work place in Bakau on 26 July 2006 and later summoned at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for questioning. Since then, his family members including his father have not seen or heard from him.
According to close relatives, Chief Manneh’s disappearance occurred immediately after the African Union Summit hosted by The Gambia in 2006.
His father said he visited all the known detention centres in the country but could not trace his son. He said he had also approached personalities such as the then former NIA Director, Mr Harry Sambou, former IGP, Mr. Ousman Sonko, Imam Fatty and the Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy to help in the efforts to trace Chief Manneh, but all without result.
In the commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the disappearance of Chief Manneh, his father said: “I went to Fatoto and Sare Ngai in search of my son but I could not still locate him. The government could have sent a delegation to the family and explain to them that they are not responsible for his disappearance and make effort on investigation. I am powerless but I leave everything to Allah.”
When the ECOWAS Court delivered judgment on the case directing the government to release him and pay him $100,000 compensation, the then Minister Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marie Saine-Firdaus, told lawmakers in response to a question posed to her by the former minority leader, Honourable Momodou Sanneh, that Manneh is not in State custody and that the State did not know anything about his whereabouts.
However, during a meeting with media chiefs on March 16, 2011, the Gambian leader said his “Government has nothing to do with the death of Chief Manneh.”
The former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Edward Anthony Gomez, indicated in an interview with the defunct Daily News newspaper that Manneh is alive, but he refused to disclose the whereabouts of the missing journalist.
The Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko, in an interview with The Standard newspaper indicated that his organization had received information from Interpol that the missing Gambian journalist, Chief Ebrima Manneh, is in the United States of America.
The Inspector General of Police however failed to state when exactly his organization received the information from Interpol and the exact date the missing journalist arrived in America.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS: A native of Jarra who was residing in Bonto village in Kombo East, West Coast Region (WCR) and a former employee of the Christian Children Fund (now called Child Fund The Gambia), Mr. Lamin Kanyi (alias Kanyiba Kanyi), was abducted on 18th September 2006 by some plain clothes security agents including a police officer in uniform. Since his abduction up to date the family couldn’t hear or trace his whereabouts.
According to a family source, they also went to the central prison on the day pardoned prisoners were released to see whether Mr Kanyi will be among those who were released but they said they were disappointed when they did not see him among those released. “We want the state to tell us where our loved one is,” a family member said.
Sources say that Kanyiba was picked up around 9.00 pm when three men in plain clothes approached him and demanded to talk to him in private. Without hesitation Kanyiba accepted but asked that they identify themselves and their mission, but the men refused to do so.
“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 enforced disappearance, his wife was pregnant and later delivered a baby girl who is now 11 years old and attending school.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS: LaminTunkara, who is a native of Kinteh-Kunda Marong Kunda in the Central Baddibu District, 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.
According to a close relative, his house in Tallinding was ransacked by state security agents who confiscated foreign currencies i.e. CFA, US Dollars, Euros and Dalasi found there.
Mr. Tunkara was earlier detained at the Police headquarters in Banjul for few days and then later transferred to the Kairaba Police Station. His family said while in detention, he was accused of being an agent facilitating the journey of nationals through the “back way to Spain” but for which they say he has never been taken to a court of law. Mr Tunkara was said to be last seen at Kairaba Police Station and up till now family members have no clue of where he is.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS: A native of Dobong village, in the Foni Kansala District, Jasarja Kujabi, was arrested in front of his family and went missing on Wednesday, 27th of July, 2005, after his house was ransacked by three NIA operatives who put him in a numberless Nissan 4 wheel vehicle with tinted glasses then later whisked away.
Family members are appealing to the head of state to release their loved father and husband.
It was also reported that men in plain clothes who escorted Jarsaja from the farm where he was found to his house for him to change his clothes assured the family that he needs not worry as he was going to join them soon but that he was not seen or heard from since then.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS: Haruna Jammeh, was abducted 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 not return and that his whereabouts are not known.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 10 YEARS Mrs. Masireh Jammeh, 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 up to date.
DISAPPEARED FOR MORE THAN 9 YEARS: Alhagie Momodou Lamin Nyassi, ex-Chief of Foni Kansala District, Ndongo Mboob and Alhagie Buba Sanyang, all natives of Bwiam village in the West Coast Region, were all abducted on the same evening of Tuesday, 4th April 2006, by men in plain clothes and put into a blue numberless tinted glass vehicle and whisked away to an unknown destination.
According to sources, the former chief of Foni Kansala and Ndongo Mboob were both abducted when the former was conveying the latter, who had visited him at his compound. The two, however, are said to be good friends.
Alhagie Buba Sanyang, 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.
NIA Operative Testifies In Ex-PS Trial
By Mamadou Dem
Gora Njie, first prosecution witness and operative of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), yesterday, 3rd August, 2015 testified in the ongoing criminal trial involving Muntaga Sallah, then permanent secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum
Mr. Sallah is standing trial for allegedly stealing three HP computers valued at 25,400 dollars (approximately 990,600 dalasi).
Continuing with his evidence in – chief against Mr. Sallah, Pw1 testified that on the 21st of June, 2015 he was instructed by his superiors to accompany the accused to his residence in Kerr Serigne to conduct a search. He said he left their office with one Kebba Secka and Lamin Bojang together with the accused and that upon arrival at Kerr Serigne, the accused took them to his bedroom (upstairs).
The NIA operative told the court that during their search, they recovered 3 computer Central Processing Unit (CPU) Servers in cartons placed under the dressing table of the accused. “Photographs were taken for the items found. At the end of the search, the 3 CPU’s were brought to the office,” said the witness.
When asked as to whether the accused told them the owner of the hp computers found in his room, he responded in the affirmative and added that the accused told them that they belong to the ministry of petroleum.
After having a look at three cartons containing CPU’s, the witness confirmed to the court that they were the ones they recovered from the house of the accused.
At this stage, the police prosecutor Sub-Inspector Alpha Badjie applied to tender the said items in evidence as exhibits.
Loubna Farage, the counsel for Mr. Sallah, did not object to the admissibility of the said computers. The three items were accordingly admitted and marked as exhibits A, A1 and A2 respectively.
Under cross -examination by the defence, the witness told the court that he has been working with the NIA for two years now but could not recall how many searches he had conducted while with the NIA.
“The team that you mentioned, comprising of yourself, Lamin Bojang and Kebba Secka, who is the leader?” asked the defence counsel.
“Kebba Secka,” responded the accused.
“So when instructions are given, are they given to you individually or instructed to Kebba Secka alone?” quizzed counsel.
Before the witness responded, the prosecuting officer objected, arguing that the witness was not in court to reveal as to how instructions were given to them by their superiors. He added that the witness was very brief in his evidence in-chief.
“I urged the court not to entertain such questions. I crave the court’s indulgence not to allow the witness to answer that question,” said the prosecutor.
Replying to the prosecution’s objection, counsel Farage described the objection as baseless and which, she said, has no relevance under the law of cross-examination. She further argued that the witness acknowledged in his evidence that he received instructions from his superiors, adding that he did not tell the court who the superior was but only that Kebba Secka was the leader.
The defence counsel said the question asked was simple and relevant, given that there is no basis for such objections. “We urged the court to overrule the objection as it is misconceived,” she submitted.
Delivering his ruling, Principal Magistrate Momodou Jallow ruled that the question was a fair question. He added that there are no enough points of law warranting him to deny the question. He therefore overruled the objection and ordered the witness to answer the question.
The witness then responded that it is not to his knowledge as to whether instructions were given to him individually or to Kebba Secka alone.
When asked about his qualifications, the witness said: “I am an investigator.”
“Mr. Njie what are your qualifications resulting to you being an investigator?” asked counsel.
“A high school graduate,” replied the witness.
“Therefore, is it correct to say that you do not have an engineering qualification or Information Technology qualification?” asked counsel Farage.
Pw1 responded that he does not understand.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to Thursday, August 6, for continuation of cross-examination.
The particulars of offence state that Mr. Sallah, while serving as permanent secretary at the ministry of petroleum, and without approval, purchased three HP computers worth $25, 400. 45 which he later stole and took to his home in Senegambia.
The prosecution further alleges that the accused has stolen three HP computers worth $25, 400. 45 which he knew belonged to The Gambia government.
Mr. Sallah is also accused of abusing his office when he instructed without approval the purchase of the computers. The alleged incident is said to have happened in the month of November 2014 in Banjul.