Solo Sandeng was killed in detention

(JollofNews) – An intelligence officer attached at the Counter Intelligence Unit of the Gambia’s feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has narrated how an opposition activist was beaten to death by his former colleagues in April 2016.

Dawda Ndure said Ebrima Solo Sandeng, organising secretary of the United Democratic Party (UDP), was lynched by his former colleagues a few hours after his arrest.

Mr Sandeng died on 15th April 2016 less than 24 hours after he was arrested with a dozen other activists for staging a brief but peaceful protest against the former regime of President Yahya Jammeh at Westfield junction, Serrekunda.

Eye-witnesses said Mr Sandeng and his associates arrived at the busy Westfield junction some 12 kilometres away from the capital, Banjul, during the afternoon rush hour and displayed a banner with the slogan “We Need Proper Electoral Reform”. They also chanted anti-government slogans and demanded Mr Jammeh’s resignation.

However soon after the protest began, they were arrested by a contingent of security officials and detained briefly at the Police Intervention Unit, Kanifing before being transferred to the feared National Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Banjul.

Sheikh Omar Jeng, NIA’s director of Operation,  said in a sworn affidavit filed on 13th June 2016 in objection to an application made by Mr Sandeng’s lawyer for him to be produced in court whether dead or alive,  that Mr Sandeng died during “the process of his arrest and detention”. He failed to disclosed the cause of the activist’s death.

Solo Sandeng’s death certificate

But giving evidence against his former colleagues including Yankuba Badjie, Louie Richards Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansary, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Sanyang who are charged with Mr Sandeng’s murder, Mr Ndure told the High Court in Banjul that the opposition activist was subjected to hours of enhance torture before he died.

He added that after Mr Sandeng and his associates were arrested, he was tasked to obtain their background information before they were led away.

He said after he finished writing the report on the opposition activists, a copy of which was printed and given to Saihou Omar Jeng, he decided to pop out for a walk.

“I was walking in the premises of the office when I saw Solo Sandeng again, this time on a mattress covered with a bed sheet up to his neck with blood and I sat for sometime to look at him but I felt emotional and left,” he recounted.

Mr Ndure said, Mr Sandeng’s body was transported in the middle of the night to the NIA office in the coastal fishing town, Tanji, Kombo South.

“When we arrived at the NIA complex in Tanji, I went to pray at the backyard while some of the boys used a spade we brought from Banjul to dig a grave. After performing my prayers, I followed Mr Jeng and his crew including Haruna Susso, to see what the boys were doing. Later, a pick-up truck carrying the body of Solo Sandeng drove up to the grave and on board were Tamba Mansary, Baboucarr Sallah, and other unknown men. Mr Jeng asked the boys to remove the body from the vehicle. The body was covered with a bloodstain bed sheet with which it was buried. I have witnessed all that transpired in Tanji but I didn’t have a hand in Mr Sandeng’s murder.”

Yankuba Badjie, Louie Richards Gomez, Saihou Omar Jeng, Babucarr Sallah, Yusupha Jammeh, Haruna Susso, Tamba Mansary, Lamin Darboe and Lamin Sanyang have pleaded not guilty to murder.

The case continues.