By Ousman A. Marong
A former senior official of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and current adviser to the Minister of the Interior, Gibril Ngorr-Secka, has told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that the then National Security Service (NSS) was more professional than the NIA.
Testifying before the TRRC on Thursday, Secka said; “The NIA had an investigations unit but instead of getting information from the bottom to the top it was the other way round. I think this was because the top was interested in certain cases,” he said.
According to him, executive interference had a negative impact on the agency’s work. He stated that the NIA was ran as a personal enterprise for former president Yahya Jammeh and sometimes as an institution of hire, by some individuals. He noted that the agency lost its focus on the nation’s security.
Testifyng further, Secka admitted that the NIA were trampling on the rights of citizens and violating their rights. He said the denial by Foday Barry and Lamin Jobarteh of ever torturing captured rebels like Ballo Kanteh, Omar Joof Dampha and Yahya Drammeh were lies. He confirmed that the trio were tortured.
On the arrest of some West African migrants, he said he was then the Director of Operations at the NIA. He explained how on July 22nd 2005, the late Daba Marena, who was then Director General of the NIA called and asked him to go the Naval base in Banjul as there were some people being brought from Barra. He said for that reason, he called two of his colleagues; Ousman Jallow and Sarjo Gassama, to meet him at the Naval base. He said a boat later arrived carrying the West African migrants.
Secka further alleged that personnel from the State Guards, led by Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier beat, kicked and tied up the migrants. He said all the migrants’ names were later listed on a sheet of paper at Kairaba police station. He then provided that list to the Commission.
Secka also testified that some of the migrants were left at Kairaba station while others were taken to Baba Jobe’s compound in Kololi. He further stated that the following day, July 23, he received a telephone call from the NIA liaison officer in Tanji who informed him that some corpses were discovered in Brufut, not far from Ghana Town. He said he had the belief that the eight bodies could have been those migrants who were dropped at Kairaba police station when the migrants were being transported to Baba Jobe’s compound.
Secka also told the TRRC how he was also arrested and detained at Mile 2 Central Prison without any charges for over 15 months. He said he was subsequently released and asked to write an apology letter to former President Jammeh which he said he did.
Secka also narrated another occasion when he was again arrested and detained and accused of involvement in a coup attempt. He explained how one night while he was asleep, he was removed from his cell and taken to another room where he was seriously beaten by the jungulars, who he said were eating roasted meat and drinking alcohol. He alleged that one Nuha Badjie directed his torture.
“Consequently, I was prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death,” he remarked.