The former Director General of the feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Yankuba Badjie, and seven other officials have been arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate Court and charged with conspiracy and murder.
The seven other NIA officials accused are Louis Gomez, and Saikou Omar Jeng, former deputy director and former director of operations respectively, Haruna Susso, Yusupha Jammeh, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Baboucarr Sallah. Lamin Lang Sanyang, the medical officer in whose name a death certificate was issued for Solo Sandeng, was also arrested.
Badjie and the seven other officials were on February 23, 2017, charged with the murder of Solo Sandeng, member of the United Democratic Party who was tortured to death while in NIA custody on April 15, 2016. The late Sandeng was arrested on April 14, 2016 while leading a peaceful demonstration to demand electoral reforms. He was taken to the NIA where he was reportedly tortured to death and buried in an unknown location.
Badjie was dismissed as the head of the NIA on February 1, 2017 and arrested on February 20, 2017, together with his former colleagues. In the Executive Order dismissing Badjie, President Adama Barrow also renamed the organisation as the State Intelligence Services, (SIS).
“This new service shall only deal with intelligence gathering and analysis to protect The Gambia from external and internal threats,” President Barrow said. “It shall no longer arrest, detain or undertake any activities that are unconstitutional, especially with regards to civil rights,” the President emphasised.
Meanwhile, the Presiding Magistrate in the trial of the suspects, Isatou Janneh-Njie, has referred the matter to the High Court and ordered that the accused persons be remanded. The decision was in response to Police prosecutor, Alpha Badgie’s argument that the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to try a case of murder, which is a capital offence.
The MFWA welcomes the legal processes initiated to bring justice to Mr.Sandeng and his family by bringing the perpetrators to book. It is a progressive step towards the fight against impunity in The Gambia and we hope that it will serve as the first step towards redressing the many cases of violations perpetrated under the Yahya Jammeh regime. The organisation also commends President Adama Barrow for his redefinition of the mandate of the NIA, which will ensure that civil rights are protected.