The affidavits by the two United Democratic Party (UDP) female party militants Nogoi Njie and Fatoumata Jawara are testaments that Yahya Jammeh’s government is hell bend on torture, murder and imprisonment of Gambians as a means to silence, intimidate and punish them. It would be recalled that these two female detainees were arrested and tortured at an electoral reform protest in Gambia together with Solo Sandeng by Gambian security forces on the 14th April 2016 which subsequently led to the death in custody of Solo Sandeng on the same day.
As was reported in this medium, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumata Jawara, Fatou Camara and Modou Ngum and the rest of the group were severely beaten and kept away in confinement for the government to buy time to heal their torture wounds.
According to the statement made by Fatoumata Jawara, when they were arrested, they were taken to Police Intervention Unit (PIU) in Kanifing before being moved to the remand wing at the country’s central prison Mile II at the outskirts of Banjul. They were then moved to the notorious National Interlegent Agency headquarters in Banjul between the early hours of 1-2am the following morning 15th April.
Fatoumata lamented that, “I was taken by one tall man who tied his head with a scarf, he just grabbed my back, I couldn’t move”. “He used my head tie to cover my face, head and mouth, he spoke to me in Mandinka language and said, “Are you UDP? You people are spoilers, you want to destroy this enjoyable regime, but we will deal with you guys,” the man warned.
“They took me to one dark place, I cannot tell where, because my face was covered with my headtie; they undressed me and I was so seriously beaten, I collapsed,” Fatoumata stated. She went on to say, when they stopped beating her, they took her to another room where she heard one of her torturers saying “give her water,” another of her torturers said, they should wait because if they give me water, she will die.
Additionally, Mrs Jawara said, “they put me on a desk, I sneezed and they said, ‘now she is okay’ and one of them (the torturers) said to me, “Fatou you are a strong hearted woman, we have heard about you, but somebody will narrate this to you, but you will not narrate it,” they warned.
Although it was reported by some Gambian online newspapers that the detainees were raped, however, this was not corroborated by the two statements of Fatoumata Jawara and Nogoi Njie. According to Fatoumata, her torturers called in 10 fat men into the room and they asked them to rape her, however, she said, “I told them, I don’t know any man, but my husband, and it would be better for them to kill me; I would rather die, they stopped,” Fatoumata Jawara lamented in her statement. She never mentioned she was raped, it was attempted, but not raped.
In her statement, Fatoumata mentioned that, she couldn’t walk into the interview room due to the severe beating meted out to her, they physically threw her into the room and forced her to agree and sign a statement that she was amongst the protesters, a charged she denied. “I was taken to an interview room, there was a video man recording the interviews; when they questioned me, I was trying to answer, but I was not very coherent, and when they saw this, they asked the video man to leave.” Madam Jawara went on to say, “they gave me water to drink; they asked me if I knew Darboe and I said, Yes.”
“When they are beating you, they continually pour water on you, and after they beat me, they gave me my wrapper and left me on the floor with my wet clothes, I was there with Fatou Camara,” Fatoumata Jawara mentioned. She further said, she called out for help and requested some water to drink and use the toilet, at which point two female agents came, “They took me to the toilet with a wheelchair, because I could not walk.” The two female agents couldn’t hold their tears, “They all started crying, because of the injuries on my body; they took me back to the room, I collapsed again,” Fatoumata said, there she heard Nogoi Njie crying saying, ‘Fatoumata has passed away’, “I could hear that,” she said.
Meanwhile, owing to her injuries she sustained due to torture, Fatoumata was taken to the clinic at the NIA headquarters where she spent 13 days nursing her injuries. “At around midday, I found myself in a clinic, I saw Fatou Camara, I asked what happened, and they told me that, I collapsed; I was in the clinic for about 13 days, I was urinating blood; it stopped the day before we were taken to Mile II prison; there were two ladies taking care of us at the clinic, I was bleeding all over,” Fatomata Jawara stated.
The female youth president of UDP also stated that, some of the NIA agents were not allowed in the clinic to see them, because they said, “they were disclosing our condition over the internet.” Fatoumata and the Co detainees were denied, proper food, medication or family visits, “Now that we have been taken to remand, we don’t have access to medicine or family; the food they are giving us is very bad and our families don’t have access to bring us food.”
According Mrs Jawara, the Doctor at the NIA advised them to bath with hot water due to their injuries, but they have been denied all that and at the time of writing her statement, she said she still has the injuries on her body and her wrapper was stained with blood. They were also made to greet the prison officers at least twice a day and if anyone fails to do so, you are in for a severe punishment.