By Nelson Manneh
Tamsir Jasseh, former Director General of Immigration and Victim of Ndurr Cham 2006 foiled Coup, has on Monday narrated how he was arrested, detained and tortured at Mile II Central Prison.
Jasseh served as Deputy Inspector General of Police before he was deployed to the Immigration Department.
Testifying before the Truth Commission (TRRC), Mr Jasseh, who has dual citizenship, said he was born in Banjul on 6th August, 1957. He said after completing his secondary schooling, he briefly taught at St Augustine’s junior school.
In 1984, the witness travelled to the United States where he served the US Navy.
On the 1st of July 1999, the witness said he came to the Gambia to join the police. But prior to that, Jasseh said he once came to the country to attend his mother’s funeral. He said while in the country, he wrote a reform policy for the police which led to his appointmentas an adviser to the Police. He said in May 2000, he was invited to a seminar and during the session, he made a statement indicating that the Army has no place at the State House.
Mr. Jasseh said when Ndure Cham told him about the Coup, he suggested to Cham for Alieu Jobe to be the President when they succeed.
“I gave many suggestions to Ndurr Cham prior to the Coup. I even told him that if the Coup succeeded, let them not ban the APRC party,” he said.
He said he has never discussed Ndure Cham’s 2006 foiled Coup with the Senegalese Ambassador. He said in March 2006, he received a phone call from Ndure Cham who informed him that the Coup had failed.
“Ndure Cham told me that the Coup has failed and he doesn’t have money to leave the country. I told him that I will help him,” he said.
The witness said he was the one who drove Ndure Cham out of the country to the border and further told him that he will link him to seek asylum to Germany. He said after some days some people wearing black uniform (Black Balck) went to his house and knocked on his door. He said before they picked him up, he communicated to the United States Embassy informing the Ambassador about his arrest.
Jasseh said he recognized Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba among the people who arrested him. He said from his house, they took him to Mile II Central Prison and put him in one of the cells at the security wing. The witness further stated that on that same day at night, around 3am, one Omar went to his cell, opened it and they shackled him and took him to the NIA headquarters in Banjul.
He said at the NIA headquarters, he was taken inside a hall where he met ASP Lamin Ceesay, Pa Harry Sambou, Lang Tombong Tamba, Tumbul Tamba, Foday Barry, Musa Jammeh and other security officers. In the hall, he said, he was asked many questions and asked to write his statement.
The witness said whilst he was still at the NIA headquarters, he requested for his lawyer Mariama Jack Denton to be brought in before he wrote his statement. He said the officers instead arrested Denton and detained her for three months in Mile ll. Jasseh said at Mile II, he met many people who were also detained there for the same foiled Coup.
“Whilst I was detained at Mile II, some of my properties including my vehicle were seized by Jammeh’s government and up to date I cannot get them. I wrote to this new government, but they did not respond to me,” he said.
The witness said there was a day when he was taken to the NIA headquarters. On that day, a plastic bag was used to cover his head and the officers started to beat him. Among those who were beating him, was one Michael Correa.
Jasseh said whilst he was in Mile II, he was able to talk to Lang Tombong Tamba who was also detained there. He said Tombong Tamba told him that former President Jammeh has the right to govern the Gambia for thirty years like former president Jawara had. He said from that conversation, he concluded that Tamba was talking on tribal lines. The witness said after a while, he was subsequently charged and convicted.
“Ndure Cham never left the Gambia until he was captured and killed,” the witness said.
Jasseh added that whilst he was in prison, he was communicating with Ndure Cham and he was sending money for him. He said Ndure Cham told him that he will organize a prison break, but he discouraged him. He said he was communicating to Ndure Cham for the six years he spent in the prison and even after he was discharged from Mile ll.
With regard to Jammeh’s green boys, the witness said he knew them very well. The witness said the green boys were more of a political movement.
“There was a time when I was still working with the police. There was a time the police wanted to recruit officers. I received a letter which requested me to enroll some of them which I refused to do,” he said.
He testified that he later left the country for the US after President Jammeh pardoned him.