By Halimatou Ceesay
Ebrima Jabang one of the detainees arrested alongside with the late Solo Sandeng and co yesterday, testified before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Banjul High Court as prosecution witness 16.
In his testimony the retired civil servant, Jabang said on the 14th April, 2016 together with the others Kafu Bayo, Modou Ngum, Solo Sandeng, and Nogoi Njie among many went to make some comments about the system in the country, which includes Electoral law reforms, the closure of the Senegambia border and the hardship in the country.
He said they gathered at Bambo in Serrekunda and match towards Westfield.
Further testifying the witness said on arrival at Westfield they were intercepted by PIU officers and put in their pickup to their headquarters in Kanifing around 2 to 3pm.
Mr. Jabang added at the PIU headquarters they were put in a hall whilst their belongings were taken from them and their names were written down. He said he and the people he mentioned are members of the United Democratic Party.
“The person who writes our names went out with the names and then later came back. Among the names listed my name was called out including Kafu Bayo, Solo Sandeng, Modou Ngum, and Nogoi Njie and we were asked to come out,” he said.
He said when they came out they found a white pickup and they were handcuffed and put at the back of the pickup. He said it was him and Kafu who joined one pickup and the other three were put in another pickup, and they were driven to the NIA at Marina Parade in Banjul.
“At the PIU I saw IGP Sonko, Yankuba Colley Mayor of KMC and an NIA officer Lamin Beyai,” he said.
He adduced that they arrive at the NIA at 5 to 6pm. He said they were taken from the pickup and their photos were taken by a photographer, and asked to go to their (NIA) security unit but he cannot remember who told them.
“I went to the security with the others. I handed over my wrist watch and the money I was having which is about 1000 plus. From there we were taken to a hall where we found some NIA officers. While myself, Modou Ngum and Kafu Bayo were in the Hall we heard Solo Sandeng crying and saying “Alibengfala” you are killing me and later we heard Nogoi Njie also crying and this was when we were in the hall seated on the floor,” he said.
He said whilst giving out their statement Solo and Nogoi were crying bitterly. He said after their statements were taken, him, Kafu and Ngum were taken to a cell and seated on the floor. He said whilst at the cell Solo and Nogoi were brought in and they cannot speak and were in pain at the time.
He said then Kafu Bayo was called out of the cell and he did not see the person who called but just heard his voice calling out Kafu, “then he was also taken away and he did not know to where exactly, and we heard him (Kafu) crying then later he was brought back and Modou Ngum was called out.” He said Kafu was also in pain. He said the place was dark so he cannot see their skin.
“I was trying to ask him what happen but he did not say anything so I know he was in pain,” he said.
“I was later called out but what I observed was they are operating very wisely, the moment we stepped out, we are held by our shoulder and turned so that we will not see the people we are dealing with.”
“Reflecting on his experience, Jabang said he was turned round, “my hands tied with a rope and I was blindfolded with a piece of cloth and a big hat was put over my head. I was held behind and taken to a place near the beach. I cannot tell whether I was in a room, what I experience was I was put on a table and tied with it from my legs to my neck and they started beating me,” he said.
He said according to the way they were beating him it feels like those beating them were are more than 3 persons. He said he feels whips on his back and it was a painful experience, adding that they beat him several times and start again. He said they were using abusive languages and insulting him saying in Mandinka ‘this is going to be the end of you Mandinkas.’
Still testifying, Jabang said after he was taken to the hall and at the door of the hall the hat and the blindfold were removed and he was faced with some NIA officers, asking him questions about the party he belongs and when he joined the party which he answered. He said he was then brought out and blindfolded again and taken back to the cell.
He said at the cell he found Solo Sandeng, Nogoi, Kafu and Ngum. He said within some time Solo was called out again and within few seconds Nogoi was also taken away. He said he never set eyes on Solo again.
“At the time we were all scared because we thought Solo was at the stage of dying, because he was rolling as he was unable sit. I and Nogoi were trying to make him steady so that we can ask him if he needed anything. I thought of giving him water if I have but we have no water,” he said.
He said suddenly we heard a voice at the cell door calling him (Solo). He said the door was open he taken away.
“We heard him crying saying in Mandinka you are killing me until his crying fades away. We heard Nogoi too crying and she was not returned to the cell. We were lying on the floor in the cell and in pain and we were in that cell for 14 days. I lost my eyes during the beating. I develop hypertension, difficulty in passing urine and chest problem due to the beating,” he said.