By Alagie Manneh
Former president Yahya Jammeh was having Gambian and non Gambian girls for “pleasure,” according to his chief protocol officer Alagie Ousman Ceesay.
While some of the girls are identified from events, other “exotic ladies” were from various countries including Nigeria, the United States and Ethiopia.
“They were special women to the president. [The ladies were there] for his pleasure. This is something we believe was happening,” Mr Ceesay told the TRRC in a lengthy testimony yesterday.
Given an information sheet to identify some of the married women in the former president’s “special ladies” disguising as protocol officers, Mr Ceesay did not call out names, circling them on the paper for the Commissioners only.
He named Jimbe Jammeh, a sister to the former president, as one of the “facilitators” bringing the girls for the president.
Ceesay said he cannot recall any sexual violence case involving the president during his time under him but said most of the girls who were recruited as protocol officers did not go through the right procedures.
“They would be ushered into my office and I will be told that these are the group of people the president wants you to work with. We had to accept them. And majority of them were academically limited. These girls were a cover [for something else]. He needed them for something else. That was not normal.”
Mr Ceesay who was dismissed, promoted and demoted on multiple occasions during his time with Jammeh, said he has never been given reason for his removals and reinstatements but he also never asked.
“I didn’t want to fall in his trap. So I never asked reasons for my demotion,” he said.
Mr Ceesay said all protocol officers who worked there were selected by the president. “Procedure wasn’t followed,” he stated.
Giving a highlight of his time under Jammeh, he said: “When I first came as Chief of Protocol, it was smooth. In 2005 2006, things started to change. He became a changed person. You will draw a program and people will be waiting outside and he will ask you to tell them the president is busy. The inaccessibility started building up.”
He said the president’s disposition was erratic and one had to see whether he was in a good mood or not to talk to him about official issues. “Based on that, I will know what issues to raise and what not to.”
Mr Ceesay recalled one incident when Jammeh told him to ask a waiting dignitary to “go to hell”.
“I remember him telling somebody if you say this or do this again, you will regret why you are born. He has been telling me on several occasions if you are not careful I will lock you up. Protocol officers will complain of beatings, sprays in their mouths and faces, insults, beatings with his stick. He would ask commanders to lock them up in Fajara Barracks. He once threatened me with imprisonment. He was very unpredictable. A lot of people feared him including myself,” Ceesay said of former president Jammeh’s character.