Gambia: Former APRC Lawmaker Demba Dem Narrates His Ordeal

Demba Dem, the onetime APRC candidate and member of National Assembly for Niani Constituency has disclosed that the 2006 Colonel Ndure Cham coup was a decoy by Yahya Jammeh to arrest him.

The former Niani lawmakers said he was implicated, arrested and detained in the alleged March 2006 coup because he was opposed to supporting the illegality of Yahya Jammeh government.

Honourable Dem made this revelation yesterday through whilst testifying through a Skype before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) chaired by Dr Lamin J. Sise.

He was born in Nyakoi village on 4 August, 1972 and currently lives in the Netherlands, pursued teaching profession at Gambia College and as a qualified teacher, he worked at Crab Island where he served for 6 years (1994 to 2001) and joined politics.

He said he was an independent minded member of the National Assembly and he was called several times by the NIA and admonished.

He told the Commission his opposition to the passing of the Media Commission Bill and the Indemnity Bill for soldiers who massacred the students of April 10th and 11th demonstration in cold blood.

He stated that the National Assembly was an extension of the executive, adding that the National Assembly was under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and later the Ministry of Works, Communications and Infrastructure.

He revealed that it was unconstitutional for the National Assembly to be under the supervision of the executive as the executive was undermining them. He cited meetings held at the State House where Jammeh threatened that some members of parliament would be thrown in the street if they refuse to approve a supplementary bill for the state after the initial D98 Million was exhausted.

Mr. Demba said he was first approached in 1996 to contest the National Assembly Elections but he rejected the offer but in 2001, he accepted to contest and he went unopposed after the main opposition party, the United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the 2001 polls.

He also said most members of the ruling APRC party were at the National Assembly to promote Yahya Jammeh agenda but he was among the few opposed to the idea of promoting Jammeh agenda, noting that he was at the National Assembly to serve the people of his constituency and the Gambian people at large.

He told the Commission that he was among those arrested in connection to the abortive Ndure Cham coup of 2006, adding that some civilians and military personnel were paraded before GRTS as coup plotters.

He named Bunja Darboe, Wassa Camara,Yaya Darboe, M.L. Bah, Faring Sanyang and Samba Bah as among the military personnel and the civilians including himself, Omar Keita, Amadou Sowe, Abdoulie Njie, Alieu Sowe, M.C. Cham, Tamsir Jasseh, ex-director of Immigration, Ramza Diab, nominated member of the National Assembly, Abdoulie Conteh, former mayor of KMC, Honourable Omar Barrow Camara, member of Kantora constituency, Alieu Lowe, Mustafa Lowe, Cherno Abdourahman Barry, a marabout and friend of Yahya Jammeh.

Dem explained that he was arrested by plain clothes officers at the premises of the National Assembly after a certain lady was sent to confirm his presence. He further explained that as soon as the lady left, the arresting team which were the black boys known as the junglers came and arrested him and took him to the NIA where he met Musa Jammeh alias Malianmungo at the gate who told him that he thought they would not get him.

He pointed out that the coup plot was a decoy to arrest him and he was taken to Mile 2 Prisons without due process and led to the maximum security wing.

He explained that most of the detainees were severely beaten and he described the conditions of detainees like Lie Conteh, Ramza Diab, Omar Camara and himself.

He revealed that Brigadier General Alagie Martin, the Inspector General of the Gambia Armed Forces, then Lieutenant, was very close to Yahya Jammeh and that he led a group of soldiers that beat and tortured him and other detainees.

He said he was stripped naked at the Mile 2 Prisons reception, handcuffed and escorted by three armed soldiers and a prison officer to his cell at the security wing.

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