EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: The longest servicing Vice President under the Jammeh administration Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy defined her responsibility as acting president during which members of the security force opened fire on students’ demonstration leading to the death of fourteen.
She pointed out that, she was not given any command in relation to the incident from Jammeh or power to command the military to take any action against the protesters.
“I was never the acting commander in chief. President Jammeh does not give security affairs to civilians. When he travels, he never tells me that you are acting commander in chief, but what he would tell me is that you are the acting president”, she said.
Throughout her service, she said, she was never given the responsibility to command the police. “When it comes to NIA [defunct National Intelligence Agency] and defence, it is always under the president”, she noted.
Dr Njie Saidy was testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) on Thursday on matters relating to the incident of students shooting following a protest to demand justice in the killing of a student by Fire Service Officers, and a rape on another by police in uniform.
In reaction to earlier testimony by the Chief of Defence Staff at the time on having carried out commands from the office of the Vice President, Dr Njie-Saidy responded that, Babucarr Jatta could have deployed the military on his own.
She added that she didn’t think that there was a clear decision. “I have never done it [that I ordered the deployment of the army] in my whole life as Vice President, why would I do it at that time”, she rhetorically asked.
In her narration, the Security Council was summoned to help normalise the situation as it was being reported to her office in regards to the demonstration. For this, she said, the security chiefs won’t give detail but they rather discuss in generalities.
“I asked them what else, Babucarr Jatta [then Chief of Defence Staff] told me how they deal with such things. He said they first collect intelligence, then they deploy general police duty, if the general duty cannot handle it, they would use the PIU, if the PIU cannot then they will use the army for backup.”
A Security Council meeting she chaired in response to the April 10-11, 2000 agreed for the deployment of the military in reinforcement of the Police Intervention Unit. She said the former president Yahya Jammeh who joined the meeting via phoneline from Cuba, spoke to each one of them at the meeting including the Chief Defence Staff, and Minister of Interior.
She said it was possible from this meeting that the former president would give military command direct to the Chief of Defence Staff.