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Published On: Thu, Jan 25th, 2024

 “I Still Bear Physical, Psychological Effects from NIA” says Madi

 Madi Ceesay member for serrekunda west, in his statement at the Federal Criminal Court in Switzerland said that he still bears the physical and psychological effects that he has experienced and suffered at the NIA, adding that he still cannot bend properly when he performs his Muslim prayers, neither can he sit down for a long time without feeling pain, as he is equally traumatized even after the physical wounds had healed.

Madi Ceesay explained, “One night, around 3 to 4am, some masked men arrived at the NIA. I was taken out of my cell to a space between the admin building and the conference room area. That’s where I was tortured. Musa Jammeh and Tumbul Tamba were the leaders, while others wore face masks. It was dark to recognize the rest,” he recalled.

“When they beat, they do not care where to beat, what to beat and how to beat. They used their boots, they used sticks, and they used cables. So, I used my arm to protect my face, giving them my back. This is why my back bears so many marks. The beating would continue for ten to 15 minutes before Musa Jammeh would ask them to stop. They would ask questions and then continue beating,” Ceesay told the court.

Mr Ceesay’s arrest, like Musa Saidykhan, came on the heels of the failed March 2006 military coup that saw tens of civilians and military personnel rounded up and detained at various security facilities in the country. He spent 22 days in detention at the NIA before being released without charge. Madi told the court that these acts represented a flagrant violation of his rights that are guaranteed under the country’s constitution as a Gambian citizen.

“They asked questions like, ‘who do you work for?’ They also said journalists must not see the government as enemies and that we must work together with the government. One of them even said he lost his job [as director of NIA] twice due to the reporting of the paper. And that when they were done with us, our pens would be broken,” Ceesay said

After his release, the paper remained barricaded by the Police for two years, when Ousman Sonko was the Inspector General of Police, he and his staff were unemployed and fending for their families became a challenge. Meanwhile, Sonko denied the paper was closed by authorities and maintained it was done through a court order.

Mr Ceesay highlighted that no one can be hold responsible for his torture, beatings, the deprivations and rights violations but Ousman Sonko, adding that sonko was in command of the police and it was sonko’s men that arrested them and handed them to the NIA. “Sonko aided and abated the tortures meted to the Gambians under Jammneh,” he said, referring the court to Section 6 of the Police Act of The Gambia, where the role and responsibilities of the Inspector General of the Police were spelled out.

Madi Ceesay is the last among nine persons to give testimony against Mr Ousman Sonko at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Sonko meanwhile has had his daughter, trained as a lawyer in the UK, join the defense team to support her father. His ex-wife based in the US, Njameh Bah, also swore an affidavit as a character witness vouching for Sonko as “harmless”, sources at the court revealed.

The session will continue with submission of closing arguments on dates to be announced by the court this week.

Madi Ceesay was the Former President of Gambia Press Union, Vice President of West Africa Journalists Association,  member of the Federation of African Journalists, he was once appointed Manager of The Independent newspaper in 2006.

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