A former Gambian police officer now living in Wisconsin in United States who refused to drink a hallucinogenic concoction of ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s witch doctors was demoted to the lowest rank in police, the Truth Commission heard on Tuesday. In 2009, Gambia’s former dictator Yahya Jammeh shocked the world by hiring a band of so-call witch doctors to torment innocent people accused of being witches.
Mustapha Ceesay was a police officer with the Gambia Police Force in 2009. In that year, Banjul witnessed an unusual activity of witch hunting by five-men team of so-call witch doctors.
According to the evidence adduced before the Truth Commission in its two-day hearing into the witch hunting, the so-call witch doctors came from Guinea Conakry.
The former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh on whose orders the witch hunting allegedly happened had lost two of his close protection officers, Tumbul Tamba and Musa Jammeh. According to Ceesay, Jammeh blamed the deaths on witches.
The hunting began. According to Ceesay, on January 13 and 14. In these two days, the witch doctors have conducted an exercise within the police headquarters, accusing people of being witches.
On January 14, forty people were accused of being witches within the police. These people were asked to stay together in a group waiting to be trucked away to an unknown location to be “cured”.
This place is now known to be a compound located in Kotu belonging to Baba Jobe. But Ceesay and one Yahya Darboe refused to Be taken away.
He said the former inspector general of police, Ensa Badgie, later asked RSM Abdou Colley to charge him for “disobedience to orders”.
This was because he refused to go with the witch doctors to be bathed and given a concoction. He was demoted from a sergeant to the lowest rank in the police, First Class Constable and posted to Fatoto, the farthest police station from Banjul.
“The IGP (Ensa Badgie) said I was stubborn and I was not loyal to the President…,” said Ceesay.
From that day, Ceesay said his life had changed. Everyone looked at his as a witch.
The Commission is currently investigating the witch hunting which affected several communities in Gambia. Unspecified number of people were captured, accused of being witches and forced to drink concoctions.
There were media reports that several people have died as a result of the witch hunting. On Monday, two police officers, Ken Mendy and Abdou Colley, testified before the Commission on the exercise of the witch hunters at the police headquarters in Banjul.
According to Ceesay, the witch hunting happened at many institutions including the army, National Intelligence Agency and the prisons departments.