Appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), the Commander of the Anti-Crime Unit, Gorgi Mboob, admitted to lying about his brutal assault on the former physical education teacher of St. Augustine High School, Ousman Sabally and other related matters on the 10th April, 2000 during the bloody students’ demonstration.
“In the morning of April 10, I was in my office at the licensing unit when the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Kajally, who was in charge of the personnel blew his whistle and had all of us assemble at the parade grounds ”
Commander Mboob said all the officers at the police headquarters in Banjul, below the rank of the RSM gathered and were briefed about the students’ demonstration in Banjul.
After being briefed, , he said the Officer Commanding of Banjul Division, Jai Sowe, gave him (Corporal Mboob), Ousman Sowe and one Yero Mballow two Chinese Mark 4 rifles and one AK 47. “I was given one Chinese Mark 4 plus five blank ammunitions”
Said Commander Mboob.
“That was the time he told us to go out and scare them. That was the only order he gave us. Only three of us were given weapons because there were only three rifles.”
As they moved out of the premises of the police headquarters, he said they saw students coming.
“We all opened fire straight up and they dispersed. Some of them ran towards Central Bank, some turned right, others turned to where they were coming from. That is how they dispersed,” he told the TRRC.
Immediately after they dispersed, Mboob said they returned to the parade ground where they were told about going out for patrols.
“We were put into teams and posted to different areas in Banjul. I was posted with one 333 Njie, at Tobacco Road, just around Lai Joof’s compound. When it was around 11 am and before 12pm, we decided to go back to the police headquarters on foot. So as we were moving from Tobacco Road, we decided to go into St. Augustine’s as a short cut.”
Upon entering, he said they witnessed a confrontation between the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and students inside the school and he and Njie tried to withdraw from the scene.
“Some of the students saw us and they chased us.”
He told the Commission that he scaled the fence and moved towards Box Bar Street where he found the PIU officers releasing tear gas on the students. “I was alone at that time and they were throwing stones at me at that time. Some of them were even calling my name.”
It was then that, Mboob said, a boy called Brikama took a stone and pelted him and insulted his mother which caused his overreaction.
“To be candid enough, definitely out of anger, I ran after him and he entered St. Augustine’s High School. I went straight after him, inside St. Augustine High School.”
As he chased up the boy, he recalled one man, [Ousman] Mr. Sabally making efforts to stop him from catching the boy.
“He came and blocked my way not to get this boy and then when he entered, tried to stop me – opening his arms, I tried to dive and he was getting in my way. And then I punched him. When I punched him, he withdrew, and I took the rifle and then hit him with the rifle. When I hit him, he fell and I kicked him multiple times – may be two or three times,” he confessed to assaulting Sabally, a school teacher.
He further admitted that he knew at the time that his conduct was unlawful and agreed that it was a heavy fist-blow. “That was when I saw students coming, some with stones and then and they started throwing stones at me. Some of the stones landed on me but some did not. So I ran out of school premises and then went and sought refuge behind the PIU officers,” Mboob testified.
He refused to admit that he was in the company of the PIU officers as put to him by the Lead Counsel.
As part of the earlier investigations he had with the TRRC officials, Mboob confirmed providing two contradicting statements to the commission. He refused to call the previous statement a false statement to the commission but an omission. “It was not a false statement. It was just an omission in my statement.”
In his earlier encounter with the TRRC investigations team, Mboob said Sabally was pulling his legs on the ground as he tried to scale the fence to escape from students of St. Augustine High School which led to the teacher’s beating. Appearing before Commission, he confirmed that, that statement was false. However, he initially refused that he lied to the commission.
And later, he said: “It’s false. It’s a lie.” Mboob also admitted to giving a false story to the commission of inquiry, almost twenty years ago, which was set up to probe the atrocities committed against students and civilians including deaths and several tortures.
“That one is a false story. I can confirm lying once. I did not lie to them [TRRC investigators]. I made an omission in my statement – that I was jumping over the fence when Sabally got one of my legs. It was an omission because it’s nearly twenty years and I cannot remember so many things now.”
But when he was squeezed by the counsel that his story was a lie, he admitted by saying “ “Yes, sir.”
“You lied twice,” asked counsel. “Yes, Sir,” he responded.
Regarding his story at the commission of inquiry, he again admitted that his story was a false statement. “It was cooked up.”
Mboob also admitted that he lied to the commission by saying that he was not part of the PIU officers who had a confrontation with students inside St. Augustine. In his statement he gave earlier, he denied holding any gun and assaulting Sabally. But in his reaction, he accepted responsibility and confirmed that he lied. “Exactly, it was a lie. I was there” He also admitted that he had lied to the commission.
He also admitted that his conduct of running after a student inside St. Augustine High School amounts to trespass.
He denied that his operation at St. Augustine was a coordinated one with the members of PIU. “When I was assaulting Sabally I was alone. Our operations were not coordinated …As far as I know, I entered St. Augustine. But on the side of the PIU, I don’t know. They could have entered but not in my presence.”
He alleged that he was threatened by his superiors that he should make his story up when he was to appear before the commission of inquiry so that he does not implicate himself and other people. Among them, he said were Mamanding Kalleh and the Deputy Inspector General of Police who asked him to fabricate his story. “I made up that story and went to the commission.”
He apologized to his victim, Mr. Sabally, who he assaulted.
“I regret all my actions and if yesterday was today I would not have done that. It was a lesson for every security officer from not just April 10 but from the past 22 years….I was a victim of circumstance. I will urge all the security officers to learn from the past 22 years.