By Ousman A. Marong
Sillah-Ba Samateh, a prominent businessman has made some gruesome revelations about trafficking in babies for ritual purposes by ex-President Yahya Jammeh, while appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday.
Giving a chilling account of what he alleged to have witnessed, Samateh said that while he was detained at the NIA premises in Banjul in 1997, one soldier at the State House, Nfally Jabang used to frequently bring boxes containing babies to the NIA. He said he knew the contents of the boxes when he was asked by Jabang to help him take them to the office of the Director General, Numo Kujabi.
Samateh told the Lead Counsel that when Nfally Jabang was later detained at the NIA with him, he took the opportunity to ask him (Jabang) about the contents of those boxes. “Nfally told me that they contained babies which he said were taken from women who died during child birth at the hospital for onward transfer to President Jammeh in Kanilai for ritual purposes,” he alleged.
Samateh also gave an account of his detention and torture at the former NIA premises (now State Intelligence Services – SIS) while he was accused of dealing in drugs which he was alleged to have said were supplied by former President Jammeh. He said after several days of torture, he was forced by the NIA to implicate former Inspector-General of Police, Essa Badjie and others as being his accomplices in selling drugs on the orders of former President Jammeh.
“The NIA wrote a statement claiming that I, together with Pa Matarr Secka, Kulteh Manneh and Essa Badjie said we were selling drugs on the orders of ex-President Jammeh. They wanted to use me as a state witness so that I would testify and acknowledge the claims but I refused. It took me about two months before I had to finally accept under duress to sign the statement they had prepared,” he told the Commission.
Samateh went on to narrate how he was later granted bail after he agreed to appear as a witness for the state. He however alleged that he had to pay a bribe to the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to be granted bail. He said he then had to flee to Senegal. He however said his younger sister who stood surety for him was later arrested and detained for a long time after he ran away to Senegal.