By Neneh Galleh Barry
Gambia’s Former interior Minister Ousman Badgie recently appeared before the TRRC and admitted giving false statement on GRTS in connection to April 10th and 11th 2000 student demonstration, however he agreed his statement was misleading.
‘Apologized to the victim families for what happened. I accept the statement I made was wrong, it was unprofessional’.
He acknowledged that he did not take any measures because if he would have requested for the reinforcement of the police that would have been seen as provocative and may create more havoc.
He admitted that internal affairs are under the portfolio of the Minister of Interior and that the President is also mandated by the Constitution to deploy Soldiers. However, he took responsibility of not doing anything.
He said shortly after arriving at his office in Banjul, he heard from multiple sources that students were shot and killed while others were injured and taken to Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital now Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospitals.
Badjie testified that he did not go to the hospital because the state functions on principles and a Minister cannot take the initiative to do that without any authority from the echelon.
“I remember making a statement to the press that the shooting came from the crowd and this was information I received from junior ranking Officers”.
He said he later realised that he made an error after he was visited by Dr. Ceesay who advised him to be careful of what he was saying, because the information they were receiving at hospital was students died as a result of gun shots.
At this juncture, a summary of his testimony before the Commission of Enquiry on April 10/11 was read out by Deputy Lead Counsel, Horejah Bala Gaye. It was observed that there was a discrepancy between his testimonies before that Commission.
In that Commission Report, Commissioners recommend that former Secretary of State, Ousman Badjie, Deputy IGP, Sankung Badjie and former Commissioner of Operations Babucarr Sowe, should be hold responsible for the tragic actions that occurred on April 10/11.
However, the Commission further went to conclude that he did not give the order for students to be shot at.
I told them it is your right to demonstrate but it must be within the confine of the law because the Public Order Act states that if you want to demonstrate you write to the IGP for a permit.
On the allegations by witnesses Alagie S. Darboe and Lamin Jobe that during their meeting at the College he and the IGP were hashed and threatening, he submitted that they told them that everything surrounding the cases was going to be dealt with.
I was not aware of any order being given to the fire service or PIU officers. I sent a Press Release to GRTS and it was aired on the 9th of April, 2019.
On the day of the demonstration while on his way to work, he found the situation chaotic because vechiles were not moving because students were not happy. He added that at that point he saw 10 PIU officers trying to dispersed students not to occupy the road and they were forcefully forcing students to go back to their schools.
The students told him that they don’t want to see any PIU Officer around them and all student leaders that were detained should be released. He told the Commission that he ensured that their demands were met.