EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: A former Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officer has alleged that security officers who were deployed to Gambia’s exiled-former President Jammeh’s hometown of Kanilai in July 2004 were given condoms to take along.
Mustapha Ceesay told the country’s truth-seeking commission –TRRC- on Tuesday that he refused to set foot in Kanilai after the incident because he was not enrolled into the security unit to farm for the President.
Former President Yahya Jammeh, who rule the tiny West Africa nation for 22 years, is accused by several people of rape and sexually assaulting young girls in Kanilai.
“While I was serving in the PIU in July 2004, I was deployed to Kanilai on an occasion, but I could not remember the date. I was part of the details and when we fall in prior to our departure, they brought packets of condoms and started distributing them to us. This was very insulting,” he said.
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has entered in its tenth session after wrapping up its ninth session on Sexual and Gender Based Violence. The tenth session of hearings is now focusing on Mr Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunting exercise that primarily targeted Gambian communities, particularly those in the region of Foni, where Mr Jammeh himself hailed from, forcing several people to drink a concoction that would render many of them unconscious and admit to being witches and wizards.
Mr Ceesay who testified via skype, said he refused to be part of the team that was deployed to Kanilai and immediately came out of the ranks. “I immediately came out of the ranks and said I was not going to Kanilai. I surrendered my weapons and went into the Mosque, open the microphone and started preaching about the consequences of such dangerous actions of distributing condoms to officers who were being supposedly deployed to go and maintain law and order,” he said.
The PIU officer said he was charged but the charge never went through until his transfer from the police intervention unit.
In March 2009, Amnesty International reported that up to 1,000 Gambians had been abducted by the government-sponsored “witch doctors” on charges of witchcraft, and taken to government detention centres where they were forced to drink poisonous hallucinogenic substances.
“The entire PIU team had witnessed this. I was not going to Kanilai because they were distributing condoms. Whenever there is deployment to Kanilai, I do not go,” Mr Ceesay said.
He said he was concerned with the way the then Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie based his appointment and promotion of the security officials on, saying Mr Badjie was once addressing returning police peace keepers and told them that while he is serving as the inspector general of police, promotions will be based on loyalty to president Jammeh.
“He said no officer will be promoted unless he/she is loyal to president Jammeh, and I find that insulting.”
He said he was on officer who refused to ever set his foot in Kanilai. “Yes, I joined the Gambia police force to serve The Gambian people, provide them with safety, security and to protect their lives and properties. I didn’t join the force to work on anyone’s farm.”
Story written by: Juldeh Njie