4 May 2012

Gambia: Mam Mataar Secka Opens Defence Sedition Trial

Mam Mataar Secka, the 2nd and Co-accused person in the ongoing trial involving ex-IGP Ensa Badjie and Kuluteh Manneh yesterday opened his defence before the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Nkea.

The accused person, Ensa Badjie Mam Mataar Secka and Kuluteh Manneh are standing trial on multiple charges ranging from conspiracy to do an act with seditious intention, sedition, abuse of office, obtaining money by false pretense, and official corruption amongst others. It would be recalled that the prosecution called 16 witnesses to testify before the court in support of its case against the accused persons.

Whilst the 1st accused person, Ensa Badjie concluded his defence on Wednesday, 2nd May, 2012 before the said special criminal court in Banjul, the 2nd accused person, Mam Mataar Secka in his testimony yesterday 3rd May 2012, informed the court that he was discharged from the Gambia Armed Forces after attaining the position of Lt Colonel. He said that he enlisted into the Gambia Police Force in 1982 and thereafter joined the first batch of the Gambia Gendarmerie and rose through the ranks in the Gambia Armed Forces until 2008, when he was promoted to Lt Colonel until he was discharged.

The 2nd defence witness disclosed that he first met Sillaba Samateh's family at the Yundum Infantry Barracks when a complaint was lodged against the said family by one Lt Colonel A. Gomez. The 2nd defence witness further disclosed that he was first informed by the 1st accused Ensa Badjie, whilst he was the IGP on telephone that a particular man called Sillaba Samateh had been arrested and has mentioned their names.

Mam Mataar Secka said he later went to Kotu Police Station and upon arrival he met a lot of people including the present IGP, Yankuba Sonko, the DG of the NIA and other senior security officials. Mam Mataar Secka further said that it was later he saw the man called Sillaba Samateh, Pa Mbye and one Nigerian called Endriss Massade. (who testified before the court).

He asserted that at the Kotu Police Station he found them playing a CD player and people were listening, then he realised that Sillaba had accused them of going around and telling people that the president has given them drugs to sell. Mam Mataar Secka however informed the court that as the said CD player was played, he denied the said allegation and Sillaba Samateh also denied ever making such allegation.

The 2nd defendant, Mam Mataar Secka stated that instruction was given for Sillaba Samateh and some people to be detained, adding that he later gave a statement at Kotu Police Station. The 2nd defendant further stated that after the confrontation, he was detained till late hours, when the 1st accused, Ensa Badjie the IGP at the time, decided that the matter be referred to the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

Mam Mataar Secka revealed that the following day at about 9.00am, he was called to report at the Serious Crime Unit at the Police Headquarters in Banjul. He said that upon arrival, he met Sillaba Samateh, Nema Ceesay, Ya Awa, Edriss Massade and the 1st accused, Ensa Badjie. He told the court that he was asked by one Ceesay, a police officer to write a statement. Mam Mataar Secka said he was alleged to be a pilot, which he denied and he explained that he had never had any training in connection to flying Aviation.

The 2nd accused said Ceesay further alleged that he has been the piloting the helicopter in the transportation of drugs in and out of the country. The 2nd accused told the court that the allegation come as a big surprise to him adding that there are no documents or diplomas in his file that he has been trained as a pilot. The 2nd accused adduced that the matter was later reported to the Defence Headquarters, where he met the then deputy chief of Defence Staff, Major General Yankuba Drammeh whom he narrated his ordeal at Kotu Police Station to.

The 2nd accused person further adduced that after his meeting with the then deputy CDS Yankuba Drammeh, he went back to his base at Yundum Military barracks. Mam Mataar Secka told the court that sometime in March 2010, he was called by the CDS, General Mansanneh Kinteh who informed him to report at the NIA headquarters. According to him, at the NIA he was received by one Louis Gomez who told him that they have received an order that he should be detained.

Prior to his detention, the accused told the court that he was asked whether he was armed, which he replied in the negative. The 2nd accused, Mam Mataar Secka told the court that he later learnt that Pa Mbye, Edriss Massade, Nema Ceesay and others were arraigned before the court. Meanwhile, Mam Mataar Secka disclosed that he was never aware of any investigation with regards to the allegations that he was a pilot, adding that the investigation could have given the authorities a tangible evidence before the said court.

Hearing continues on Monday 7th May, 2012.

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