Journalist Musa Saidykhan: They Administered Electric Shock on all Parts of my Body Including my Genitals
The former editor-in-chief of the defunct The Independent newspaper has given horrific accounts of how he was allegedly tortured and electrocuted while in detention at the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2006.
In March 2006, Musa Saidykhan was at home at around midnight sleeping when someone identified as Sergeant Malamin Ceesay knocked at his door, saying he was needed at the Serekunda police station.
Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission via online video Wednesday, Saidykhan said when he opened the door, he realized that it was combined security forces including armed soldiers and paramilitaries that were outside. He was arrested and taken to the paramilitary headquarters in Kanifing where he was detained for an hour before being transferred to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
He testified that on a particular day in April 2006 around 2am, he saw a big tinted glass vehicle and soldiers alighted and took away Madi Ceesay, The Independent’s Managing Director who he was detained with. He told the commission that an hour after taking Ceesay, the men returned to the NIA cell and said Ceesay was killed and buried, and that it was his turn to be taken away. According to him, they were led by Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba, former president Yahya Jammeh’s alleged henchmen.
“They asked me if I knew why I was there and I told them I didn’t know. They said to me ‘you would come to find out’ and then they started beating me with gun-butt. They had this wire with them, the horse pipe and also they had this device and when they put it on my head I felt dizzy. I felt that I was shocked by electricity,” Saidykhan told the TRRC.
“They dragged me inside a hallway and that was when I was stripped naked. They torn my clothes apart, stripped me naked and administered electricity on all of my body including my genitals. Then I went into comma.”
Saidykhan said while standing and being beaten, he fell down after intense torture as torturers continued to stamp on his right hand.
“My right hand was broken into three places. I could hear the bones [cracking]. They dragged me on a concrete floor until I had marks all over my body. They also used bayonet to do a strike on my jaw. They deliberately broke my hand because they said my problem was my hand and my mouth. The aim was to paralyze me so that I would not be a journalist again because the only tools I had were my mouth and my hand.”
He said he was shackled and handcuffed and asked to run. When he couldn’t, he was beaten again. He recalled that the torture session lasted for an hour.
He testified that his torture continued the following day. According to him, this time he was subjected to a joint torture along with Ceesay and Lamin Fatty, a reporter at The Independent.
Saidykhan jumped bail and fled to Dakar following his release for fear of being rearrested.
In his final TRRC remarks, he said: “Whoever wronged me, I forgive them. I cannot live in pain. Failure to forgive means you are living in pain.”
Saidykhan took The Gambian government to the Abuja-based ECOWAS Court to seek redress for the atrocities meted out to him. The court ruled in his favour and asked the government to pay him a compensation of $200, 000. The former government of Yahya Jammeh failed to respect the court’s ruling.
Saidykhan informed the TRRC that he was yet to receive the payment from the current government, saying that he refused to accept an ‘unfair’ payment plan offered by the government.
He is based in the U.S. with his family.