Once detained and brutally mishandled by former President Yahya Jammeh’s Intelligence operatives on a drug case he tipped the State security about, Babucarr Cham, a businessman on Monday told the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) agents asked him to take off his shirt and trousers.
In the presence of Alagie Morr, Ebrima Jim Drammeh, Lamin Darboe, Dembo Mbaye, Lamin Manneh and Ousman Sowe, all officers of the NIA, “I was forcefully stripped off naked, before this group, they asked me to squat.”
According to the witness, after he was undressed and kept naked, the NIA agents handcuffed him. “They never beat anybody without handcuffing him”, Babucarr Cham told the TRRC.
The witness said he also saw the same group of rogue agents mishandling someone they injured on his private part. He quickly took his clothes, wore them and ran without being beaten. The witness said one of the drug suspects told him that it was agent Lamin Darboe who beat him on his private part wounding it seriously.
Mr Cham was accused of drug dealing together with some Guineans. He was arrested and tortured by the NIA operatives. He told the Commission that as a result of the false accusations levelled against him on the drug case, his community (Brikama) began to lose respect and trust for him. “My reputation as a community organizer was affected because of the false accusations”, Cham said.
Lead counsel Faal asked the witness who were the actual beaters at the NIA, the witness responded that Alagie Morr was one of them. Fernando Correa and Ansumana Fatty were the two Guineans tortured while Tijan Ndure, a Gambian was also beaten.
The witness told the Commission that when the NIA agents were beating the Guinea-Bissau Nationals the late Sukuta Jammeh, Ebrima Jim Drammeh, Alagie Morr and Lamin Darboe were all present.
On those who interrogated him while at the NIA? He said Ebrima Jim Drammeh, Alagie Morr, Sukuta Jammeh and some females. There he was told by the NIA agents that he had an interest in the drugs and that was why he reported it to the Drug Squad. “I was kept in a cell for 28-days”, he told the Commission.
Cham was not allowed to see a lawyer and was subsequently charged with conspiracy. Mr. Cham recollected that he and the Guineans were later handed over to the police and its former Inspector General IGP Yankuba Sonko who is now the Minister of Interior.
“We were arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates Court but the matter was later transferred to the Brikama Magistrates’ Court. Our case lasted for two years without progress. The court discharged and acquitted us. All I did in that case was to report the drug dealing to the NIA” babucarr Cham told the TRRC.
He said the Impacts on him as a result of his arrest and detention at NIA is immense. He revealed that his home generator was stolen shortly after he was arrested by the NIA agents.
“I also pledged my title deeds to pay my legal fees of D155, 000. I ended up losing my compound, because I could not pay back the loan I took.”
Responding to TRRC Chairman, Dr. Lamin J. Sise, the witness said he was told by his co-detainees that they too sustained injuries from their encounter with the NIA operatives. It was the NIA medics that attended to them.
Babucarr Cham said “Those who lost confidence in me based on the alleged drug case should know that I was never involved in drug dealing”
The witness further told the Commission that because of the false accusation levelled against him, one of his wives developed a hypotension and that people in the mosque in Brikama where he usually prays, lost confidence in him.
Cham informed the Commission that his wife eventually died as a result of her hypotension born of the shock upon hearing the false accusation of drug dealing on her husband. “The TRRC is useful and important to the nation and I urged all those who are falsely accused to come forward and narrate their ordeals” Cham said.