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Monday, January 18, 2021

Ex-NIA operations director ends testimony

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By Bruce Asemota

Sheikh Omar Jeng, a former director of operations at the defunct National Intelligence Agency, completed his testimony in defence of his criminal trial yesterday before presiding Judge, Kumba Sillah- Camara of the High Court.

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He testified that after the burial of Solo Sandeng at the NIA annexe in Tanji, he returned home but whilst at home, he received a call from the security that three ladies have been left behind at the front entrance reception and were in a very bad state and that his presence was needed.

He further testified that he went to the Agency headquarters in Banjul and found Nogoi Njie, Fatou Camara and Fatoumatta Jawara and observed that Nogoi Njie had some visible injuries. Fatou Camara and Fatoumatta Jawara were in a semi conscious state.

Jeng said he tried to talk to them in order to find out what was wrong with them but it was only Nogoi Njie that spoke to him.

He explained that their condition at the time was as a result of the beatings they suffered the previous night.

He further explained that he informed the late Louise Gomez, then Deputy Director General who instructed that the medic (Lamin Lang Sanyang) be summoned to come to Banjul to attend to them.

Jeng said upon the arrival of the medic, he advised that all the three ladies be given medical attention and suggested that they could be moved to the Agency clinic which has admission beds.

He revealed that the medic advised that it is important to have a fellow female officer to help them and two female officers were recalled to assist the ladies.

Jeng testified that few weeks later, he was called by the late DDG who asked him to report to the Agency’s office.

“I went to the Attorney General’s Office and was ushered into the office of then minister of Justice Mama Singhateh where I found the then DPP, Barkum, the deputy, Abubacar and senior state counsel Binga D.”

Jeng said after introducing himself, the minister admonished him: “You guys have created a big mess.”

He said minister Singhateh stated that they shouldn’t have buried Solo Sandeng after he died but should have taken him to the mortuary to give way for investigations.

Jeng revealed that the minister said she has been tasked to fix their mess and that habeas corpus has been filed by Solo Sandeng’s family and he was asked to go with the DPP, his deputy and Binga D.

He revealed that at Binga’s office, he was given a document to sign and that it was an executive order but he refused to sign because he didn’t know the content of the said document.

He further revealed that he read the document and found out that it was an affidavit deposed to in his name and he left Binga’s office with the document. He said he showed it to Louise Gomez who told him about some errors made in the document. He said Louise advised him to sign the document.

Jeng told the court that he went to Binga’s office and signed the document and returned to his office.

He further told the court that few days later, he was asked by Gomez to find out from the medic- Lamin Lang Sanyang (the 9th accused) to make a medical certificate.

Jeng testified that a court order was sent to the NIA indicating that Nogoi Njie, Fatou Camara, Fatoumatta Jawara, Modou Ngum, Kafu Bayo and Ebrima Jabang be made available to the court.

He said Gomez instructed him to make the necessary arrangement to ensure that the six persons appear in court on the date ordered by the court.

Jeng said he informed the medic who graciously suggested that the Agency should try to procure new clothes for them.

He noted that the detained protesters refused to eat food provided to them since the 2nd day of their detention and that Nogoi Njie told him that they were suspicious of being poisoned.

He said he used to eat with them in the same basin to assure them that their food was not poisoned and that he personally provided afra meal to Nogoi Njie and her colleagues.

He explained that the Agency provided D90 per meal for every detainee per day without afra but he did provide them that during their detention until the last day.

Jeng said there was a court order that they be remanded at the Mile 2 prisons but the PIU officers’ truck and the mini van were stranded inside the NIA headquarters because Nogoi Njie had refused to join her colleagues to go to Mile 2 prisons.

He revealed that he went to the Agency and upon arrival, he met Nogoi Njie who informed him that she didn’t want to go to Mile 2 prisons, insisting that she can be going to the court from the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

Hearing continues today for cross-examination of the accused person.

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