Story written by Binta Badjie
EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Imam of Kombo South community of Jambur said Gambia’s exiled former dictator, Yahya Jammeh unnecessarily sent his goons to attack him because he was informed that he was not supporting him, following the 2001 presidential election.
Testifying in Jambur on Monday before the TRRC as part of their community hearings in connection to Mr Jammeh’s 2009 ordered witch-hunting exercise, Omar Bojang said it was Mr Jammeh’s Green boys who attacked him and meted serious beating on him.
“I was lying down at the compound square outside my house while many people were sleeping and the Green boys came looking for me. When they found me, they started beating me and wounded me internally,” he said.
Imam Bojang told the truth-seeking Commission that he recognized one of the Green boys called Laluwa Conteh who, he said was leading them.
The TRRC is now on its tenth session of hearings, focusing on Mr Jammeh’s 2009 witch-hunting exercise. The exercise primarily targeted Gambian communities, particularly those in the region of Foni, where Mr Jammeh himself hailed from, in which his hired Guinean witch-doctors forced several people to drink a concoction that rendered them unconscious and admit to being witches and wizards.
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 truth-Commission commenced first hearings of the exercise in its Dunes Headquarters but has now moved to conduct hearings in communities where the witch-doctors attacked. The 2017 TRRC Act, under Section 16(1) grants the chairperson the authority to determine at what times and where the Commission shall sit to conduct its hearings.
Section 15(1)(c) of the Act also empowers the Commission to gather information not only through individual hearings but to also conduct group hearings in pursuit of its truth seeking mandate. As such, the Commission will hold hearings in identified communities in the Gambia.
Imam Bojang said his attack by the Green boys was reported at the Brikama police station but nothing was done about the matter. “My younger brother, who is a police officer told me we should go to the police station to report the incident and we proceeded to Brikama police station but they didn’t do anything. I believe that is because I told them that it was the Green boys who attacked me and those boys work for Yahya Jammeh,” he said.
He said he was then attacked again after the 2006 presidential election, saying that was a stranger in the village, and he was insulting his mother and shouting his name in the village.
He said the man attacked him with a knife in his hand and he defended himself with a stick and broke his hand twice. “We went to plough in the rice fields and when we returned and I went to fetch water to bath, I heard someone calling my name. He was approaching our home and insulting my mother,” he said, adding that when the person entered his house, there was a knife in his hand and he too picked a stick and when he attacked him, hit his hand and broke it twice.
He said he was taken to police and was detained there for a day and the then Kombo South parliamentarian Paul Mendy and one Haja Fatou Ceesay instructed the Station Office Edrisa Badjie to keep him behind bars because he was an opposition of APRC. “I was detained and later, I saw Paul Mendy and Haja Fatou Ceesay came and went into the Station Officer’s office but I have no idea what they discussed there. After they left, the station officer told me that he was instructed to not release me I was the one who mobilized people so that APRC doesn’t win,” he said.