Continuing our investigations into claims by Musa Suso’s friends that his drug and subsequent false information convictions were a set-up, The Standard yesterday met Benedict Jammeh, a former Inspector General of Police and director of the then anti-drug enforcement agency on the matter.
Ben Jammeh, reputed for his high degree of honesty and professionalism, said he recalled February 2000 when Musa Suso was brought to the police alleged to have been arrested with drugs. “I was an assistant superintendent and secretary to the then IGP, Rex King. I did not know Mr Suso at the time but I fully remember that a lady who was the one said to be carrying the drugs itself, was not charged and instead it was Musa Suso who was charged. That suggested that Mr Suso was the target for prosecution,” Ben Jammeh told The Standard.
Commenting on Mr Suso’s second arrest and prosecution after his release from the drug conviction, Ben Jammeh said that episode too was smacked with a vortex of conspiracies and outright set-ups against Mr Suso and even himself for just standing by the truth.
“This time I was IGP and I did not know Musa Suso even then but he was brought there accused of being in possession of a SIM card, a note book and cannabis. That time Essa ‘Jesus’ Badjie was the Crime Management Coordinator, CMC. Suso was interviewed by a panel on those allegations,” Ben Jammeh said.
However according to Ben Jammeh, he [Ben Jammeh] along with some staff interviewed and recorded Musa Suso stating his case. He said among the things Musa alleged was that the prison authorities were engaged in dubious acts including feeding the prisoners with a dead bull.
“We had Mr Suso’s recorded statement and sent it to former President Jammeh who after listening to it, stated that he believed Suso’s story because he himself had once seen a dead cow under a tree with a swollen stomach in front of the Prisons when he was driving by one day,” he added.
Ben Jammeh said this was how president Jammeh pardoned Suso and immediately ordered for his release.
Ben further narrated that the conspirators against Suso soon felt defeated after his release and began to target he [Ben] himself, police prosecution head Burama Dibba and ASP Ebrima Jammeh alias ‘Kunchi’.
He said the conspirators now put aside their initial allegations that Suso was in possession of a SIM card because after going through the said SIM card’s records, they realized that their own phone numbers and those of other high ranking people were contacted by it because Musa was using the SIM card to draw the attention of anyone he could contact to the dubious happenings in the prison as well as documenting them in a book.
“So they dropped that line of investigations knowing a lot of them would be implicated. They then used the allegations of giving false information dragging along Burama Dibba and Kunchi who were both arrested. They claimed that Kunchi was given money by Basiru Jobe, brother of Baba Jobe for his naming ceremony. Basiru flatly denied that and Jesus then went for Soma Jobe, another brother of Baba Jobe to take the place of Basiru as a false witness but Soma Jobe too refused to give false testimony and the case against Kunchi failed,” Ben said.
He said the conspirators claimed that Burama Dibba was the one who made a report about a dead cow which was never true. “They even used one Commissioner Thomas Jarju to say that he handed over their imagined and cooked-up cannabis taken from Suso to me, all in a bid to implicate me too,” Ben said.
Ben explained that he himself was summoned to the court to give evidence without even giving a witness statement. “I told the court that Dibba had never written any such report while Musa Suso also told the court that he was the one who collected and informed the authorities about the information from prison and no one else.
“Despite all these they convicted him to another imprisonment,” Ben said. He observed that Musa’s trial was dubious because the case file was transferred from one jurisdiction to the other so that the same magistrate would hear it.
“It was magistrate Kayode who was assigned the case in Banjul. He was moved to Brikama and they moved Musa’s case to him there and when he was moved to Bundung, they moved Musa’s case there too. I even understood that Kayode was given D300, 000 just to lock up Musa, and interestingly when Jesus was arrested, Kayode slipped away from the country,” Ben concluded.
Another man Momodou Jallow, MJ, a childhood friend of Musa Suso told The Standard that it was because of the daylight betrayal to Musa that he publicly denounced the APRC and cross-carpeted to the UDP.
“I could not stand the sheer treachery, lies and conspiracy to humiliate a person just because he was popular or famous. Musa, who never smoked even cigarettes, was too decent to do drugs. His case is a classical example of how Jammeh used state institutions to settle personal vendettas or to criminalise good citizens perceived to be threats to him,” MJ said.