By Yankuba Jallow
Lamin Bojang, an employee of the Medical Research Council (MRC) has on Thursday, 22nd October 2020 explained that he was tortured at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Bojang’s arrest and detention was in relation to hacking of the Freedom Newspaper website in 2006. Following the hacking, several names were published including Bojang’s as people who were informants to the newspaper.
44-year-old Bojang is currently the Data Manager at MRC and the head of the National Cancer Registry. Bojang, like many of the names of the listed personalities was a subscriber of the Freedom online newspaper.
The Tujereng born was arrested at his work place in Farafenni in May 2006 and two of his colleagues, Fakebba Ceesay and Yero Bah were also arrested in connection with the Freedom newspaper saga.
The computer scientist’s room was searched and he was detained at the Police Headquarters in Banjul for a night and then moved to NIA headquarters where he spent 129 days.
Bojang was asked what he knew about Freedom Online Newspaper, and whether he used to communicate to Pa Nderry Mbai’I the proprietor of the newspaper and whether he communicated to Mr Mbai’I with regards to the Gambia Government.
After responding in the negative, Bojang was taken to a place within the NIA premises, but close to the ocean where about six men tortured him.
“I was asked to get into a ring and the place was dark. I fell down and they started beating me. They were using sticks and some were kicking and stamping their feet on me. I sustained injuries and the marks are still on me,” the witness said.
“Of course, it reached a stage when I was not feeling pain anymore,” the witness said.
“I cannot tell who hit me, but I can say for certain that Malick Jatta, Modou Jarju alias Rambo and Sanna Manjang were all part of those that dragged me down from the Conference Hall,” Bojang said.
After sometime, the torture stopped and Bojang was taken back to the conference hall.
“At the hall, I was told that I have to comply with them or else the torture will continue. They said the torture was small – more is ahead. They were trying to force me to comply,” the witness said.
The witness said the panel of investigators was not professional and they were trying to impress the President whose directives they were executing.
He said when he told the panel that he does not send any information to Freedom Newspaper, he was asked to wait for them outside the hall. He explained that one Nfally Jabang came to him with the information that his police statement was misplaced and asked him to sign a statement which was written at the NIA.
“After reading the statement that Nfally Jabang brought to me, I told them it was not my statement and I requested a pen and paper to write my statement. I told him [Jabang] I was not going to sign the statement,” the witness said.
Jabang said he was only required to sign, but the witness maintained that he wouldn’t sign the supposed statement without writing a new statement.
“Nfally Jabang told me that ‘you are trying to show us that you are stubborn, but we will deal with you’,” the witness said.
Bojang rescinded from appending his signature because it stated the he admitted to subscribing to Freedom Newspaper and was engaged in sharing information with them.
He said Lieutenant Musa Jammeh alias Maliamongo came to him and asked him to comply and say the truth.
“I told him what I stated was the truth and it was when he [Musa Jammeh] told me I don’t want to be helped,” the witness said.
Bojang said his clan gave Maliamongo’s uncle land to reside and farm. Bojang added Maliamongo was living with his uncle in Tujereng and it was where he did his schooling.
He said when Musa Jammeh left he was taken back to the cell with words that “we are going to deal with you”.
“Each of us in that cell that night was tortured,” the witness said.
The witness said Pa Modou Faal of GRTS was the only one who was not tortured thanks to the intervention of late Tumbul Tamba who was a member of the panel of investigators. Bojang said Tumbul and Pa Modou Faal both are Arsenal FC fans and this was why he did not allow the torturers to torture him.
Bojang and three others were removed from the cell and were put in what they called ‘light detention’. He said the security personnel at the NIA allowed them visitation at their own discretion.
The witness said Buba Jammeh, a former personal protective officer to former President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh was also detained at the NIA in connection with the Freedom Online Newspaper saga. Bojang adduced that Buba Jammeh and Lamin Cham, a journalist were also tortured.
He said they were not provided proper food such that they used to add Jumbo on it.
“We were not allocated breakfast. We were only allocated D10 or D15 for dinner,” the witness said.
He said the security personnel at the NIA were not provided dinner.
“I was detained for 129 days at the NIA in Banjul,” Bojang said.
He said he was never cautioned, never charged and never taken to court.
His lawyer, Bory S. Touray filed a case before the high court which was first mentioned on Monday, 25th September 2006 and by Friday, 29th September, the Court ordered for his release. He said he was released and was asked to report to the NIA the following Monday. Bojang was leaving Farafenni for Banjul for three months to report to the NIA.
“I got fed up and I stopped coming. The journey from Barra to Farafenni at the time will take you nothing less than five hours because of the bad road,” the witness said.
He said despite his detention, his salary was flowing and he did not lose his job.