Gambia: Witness claims to be illegally detained at NIA together with her husband

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A gardener in the North Bank area told the Truth Commission on Monday November 9th that she was arrested by the National Intelligence Agency after authorities alleged her son was involved in an attempted coup against the government.

Born Mbankam told the commission that she had been picked up at their home by agents from the NIA.

Sonko said she was asked about her son Dawda Bojang. Ba Ensa Bojang (Sonko’s husband) was also arrested. They were told they were going to Amdalai, but the officers went to Banjul instead.

They were told they had to answer a few questions about their son. Sonko’s son was a soldier and was accused of participating in an attempted coup, but escaped arrest.

On their way to Banjul, they passed Mbollet-Ba, where the officers were descending to arrest an Olimatou Corr, but found that she was not there and decided to arrest her (korr) co-wife. Corr was later arrested at home by NIA staff.

The detainees’ phones were confiscated and refused to communicate. They crossed the last ferry at the Banjul-Barra border crossing.

Sonko said she was asked if her son had communicated with her and she said no. She added that the same question was asked of her husband and he also said no.

She said some people had been released by the NIA, but she, her husband Mariama Njie, Meita Njie and Olimatou Corr had been detained for seven months.

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The witness said all of these people were arrested in connection with their sons’ alleged involvement in a coup.

She said they were served half bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She said they used to sleep on mattresses, but they were bitten by mosquitoes. She added that there was no mosquito net on them.

She said she, Olimatou Corr, Mariama Njie, and Meita Njie were sick while in detention.

Amnesty International Report said the NIA and the State Guard arrested at least 30 people, including a 16-year-old boy, in connection with the failed coup on December 30, 2014.

She said a Lamin Sanyang and Fatou Darboe, who were both doctors with the NIA, provided her with medication, but she refused to drink the medication because she was undiagnosed.

“To this day, I did not know the reason for my arrest,” she said.

She added, “We stayed on the same clothes for the seven months we were detained.”

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