The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has bigger issues to address than continue the inconsequential pretence of calling itself the State Intelligence Service. As a security agency, the NIA is synonymous with utter lawlessness in the manner it conducted itself in the past. It was even performing the function of debt collector. There is every indication that the lawless flag still flies high in those seaside offices overlooking the Atlantic.
Many a Gambian cried to death in those buildings at the edge of the Atlantic sands in Banjul. Behind those walls, real terror was the order of the day. Families refused access to their loved ones. Detainees subjected to routine brutal torture, humiliation, and sometimes death.
When Gambians ejected the principal architect of the infrastructure of terror in the country, they thought they were ending that chapter of state-sanctioned terror permanently. What wishful thinking that was!
As Gambian were preparing to break their fast the evening of 09 June 2017, seven, may be eight security personnel including from the NIA and the police assembled outside the home of Bubacarr A.M.O Badjie, Legal Officer at the agency, readying to arrest him.
Among the NIA contingent of the arresting personnel were Alhaji Ceesay of the agency’s notorious Special Operations. There was also Ebou Sanyang, a black belt and specialist in martial arts. These were the two ostensibly representing the Director General of the NIA, a man deeply interested in this ongoing saga involving the agency and Mr Badjie.
After a standoff lasting something like an hour, Mr Badjie was arrested and moved to Kairaba Police Station. He wrote his statement and was escorted for a search of his residence. I state for the record that there are no national security aspects to this affair and Mr Badjie must be protected from the lawless culture still extant and pervasive at the NIA.
The Government is put on notice that should anything happen to this fine citizen dedicated to improving the democratic credentials of his homeland, it will be held accountable. There are reports that Alhajie Ceesay was demanding that Mr Badjie be escorted to the NIA to hand some documents this very night. The police must never allow that demand to materialise.
I urge the Director General of the NIA to restrain himself and to appreciate the distinction between himself and his office. The legacy of the NIA is so disturbing that the government cannot forget so soon the real terror Gambians and residents of The Gambia were subjected to by the NIA over the last two decades.
If internal mechanisms for redress of grievances are not functional at the NIA, it stands to reason that Mr Badjie must have the legal right to petition other authority. Based on what was written by the NIA in response to an online article, there are questions as to whether the current Director General is the right person for the job. The article does not reassure at all!
We will not abandon this fine and conscientious public officer to lawlessness by public authority. We didn’t throw out a dictator to nurture and succour others with little if any respect for process and the rule of law. The NIA must not be afforded any cover as there are no security issues implicated in a saga that calls for thorough investigation.
Mr Badjie must be released on self-bail whilst transparent and credible investigations are instituted for the appropriate ventilation of all connected issues.
Lamin J. Darbo