By Neneh Galleh Barry
Madi Ceesay, a lawmaker for Serrekunda West, former GPU President and Proprietor of The Daily News told the Truth Commission that he and his colleague Musa Saidykhan were asked not to publicly discuss their torture ordeals in the hands of state operatives.
The two journalists were working for The Independent Newspaper but arrested and reportedly tortured severely by former President Yahya Jammeh’s paramilitary hit squad commonly call Junglers.
Madi Ceesay was arrested in March 2006 after he erroneously named former Interior Minister Samba Bah among a group of individuals arrested in connection with a plot to overthrow the Jammeh regime.
Following the publication of the article, the newspaper realized that Samba Bah who was detained was not the former minister but a soldier in the Gambia National Army and the newspaper ran a correction, with an apology in its next publication.
He told the commission that the paper also apologized in person to the former minister who accepted the apology. But few days later, Ceesay who was the then General Manager and his editor-in-chief, Musa Saidykhan were picked up by officers of the then feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) now renamed State Intelligence Services and detained at the agency’s headquarters in Banjul for several days.
Ceesay’s said they were beaten by a team led by the late Musa Jammeh commonly known as Maliamungu Jammeh who named himself after a killer of late Edi Amin Dada was one of the leaders of the Junglers.
“I was beaten for about an hour and they would ask me “who do you work for” and I would tell them, I work for The Independent newspaper… They had this view that all journalists are agents of the West,” he testified.
Ceesay said after his terrible torture experience with Saidykhan, at the time they were about to be released, a panel of senior security men sat with them and asked them not to publicly speak about their ordeal.
The instruction not to disclose what happen to us at the Nia,is to cover-up the alleged crime, Ceesay believe came from former police chief Ousman Sonko who was later appointed as the Minister of interior by former president Jammeh.
“I think they are settling scores because The Independent was a very critical newspaper…,” said Ceesay.
Ceesay and Saidykhan were detained for 3 weeks before their release without charge. He told the TRRC that the officials of the National Intelligence Agency were complicit in their torture even though the people torturing them were coming from a section of the Presidential Guards.
“Musa Saidykhan was beaten seriously… They broke his hand more than two times and he did not have any medical attention,” the witness alleged.
Madi has won an International Press Freedom Award which was awarded to him Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).