“After we were about to be released, a panel sat to address us. They told us that we could not talk about what happened to us and that we must see Government as a partner… Former Inspector General of police Ousman Sonko told us that we cannot talk about what happened to us.”
Madi Ceesay, a lawmaker representing Serrekunda West, has told the Truth Commission on Wednesday 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 working for The Independent were arrested and reportedly tortured severely by former President Yahya Jammeh’s paramilitary hit squad commonly call Junglers.
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,” said Madi.
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 them down and asked them not to publicly speak about their ordeal.
This instruction to cover-up the alleged crime, according to Ceesay, came from former police chief who was later appointed minister of interior by former president Jammeh, Ousman Sonko.
Sonko is currently in Switzerland where is being held on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity in Gambia. His several attempts to secure bail has failed.
“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.
Ceesay said 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,” said Ceesay.
Madi is still a journalist but he is also working as a lawmaker. His paper The Daily News was arbitrarily closed down by authorities in 2011 and never allowed to operate again.
Madi has won the Press Freedom Hero awards which was awarded to him Committee to Protect Journalists.