By Bruce Asemota
Sheikh Omar Jeng, a former director of operations in the renamed National Intelligence Agency, yesterday opened his defence in the criminal trial involving the state against his colleagues before Justice Kumba Sillah- Camara at the High Court in Banjul.
The witness, who testified as the first defence witness, disclosed that on 14 April 2016, whilst in Banjul, he received a call from the monitoring and emergency team that someone informed them that there was a large and unusual gathering around Westfield.
The accused person said he called the patrol team around West field who told him that there was an ongoing protest by some people holding banners and using whistles but they couldn’t recognize them at the time.
The accused said whilst speaking with the patrol team, the deputy director general, Louise Gomez (now late) called him and summoned him to his office.
He revealed that as he was driving into the NIA premises, he received another phone call from the director general of NIA, Yankuba Badjie (first accused) asking his whereabouts and he told him that he was driving but the DG asked him to go and see the deputy DG.
Jeng told the court that he got a call from the patrol team reporting that the protesters were UDP supporters and that the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) have just arrived to disperse them but there were reports that some of the protesters have refused to disperse.
He told the court that he reported back to the Deputy DG who asked him to keep monitoring the situation and went back to his office and awaited further reports from the patrol team.
The witness said he received report that the team leaders of the protesters were put inside the back of a truck and the rest ran away.
Sheikh Omar Jeng told the court that he later went to the PIU headquarters in Kanifing where he met the minister of interior, Ousman Sonko, the then Inspector General of Police, Yankuba Sonko, the commander of state guard battalion, General Sulayman Badjie and a good number of senior officers from various security institutions.
He said the arrested protesters were seated on bare floor in a big hall but couldn’t identify any of them. He said he overheard the officers saying that the ring leader was one Solo Sandeng who ran away but a group of police officers came in with him as he was wearing unbuttoned shirt and was sweating profusely.
He further said that five of the protesters were put in vans and escorted to the NIA headquarters in Banjul and the remaining ones were taken to Mile 2.
He pointed out that the five escorted to the NIA were Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Nogoi Njie, Kafu Bayo, Ebrima Jabang and Modou Ngum.
Sheikh Omar Jeng told the court that he returned to the NIA headquarters at about 6pm and he observed at the entrance that normal activities and protocols were different. He said as he walked towards his office, at the back of the storey building facing the main gate, he met five masked men struggling with a woman he later identified as Nogoi Njie.
He revealed that Nogoi Njie ran to him as he approached them, pleading in Mandinka language saying ‘mmakoy mmakoy’, help me.
He revealed that he couldn’t identify any of the masked men but he suspected that they were members of the junglers.
The witness told the court that as he asked Nogoi Njie to calm down, two of the masked men came and addressed him: ‘Sir Jeng do not fuck with us and we will not take any nonsense from you’.
He said they dragged her away and he looked at Nogoi Njie helplessly.
Hearing continues today.