The State Intelligence Services, (SIS) formerly known as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been accused of mistreatment of a soldier detainee, who was under SIS custody on Monday. Soldier Sambujang Bojang of the Fajara barracks made the allegations. His allegations against the onetime discredited Gambian spy agency remains uncontested or challenged by the authorities that be at the SIS.
We are increasingly concerned about the recent development of an alleged inhumane treatment of a detainee by the SIS. This was not what president Adama Barrow told the nation, when he ascended to the presidency six months ago. He said the NIA (SIS) will cease to engage in police duties; processing of detainees, and interrogations. Hence, he (Barrow) decided to rename Jammeh’s torture chamber NIA agency, into the State Intelligence Services, without repealing the draconian law granting sweeping powers to the agency.
From the onset, it has been our contention that the renaming of the NIA to SIS, was a clear case of an old wine in a new bottle. The NIA remains active, and the bad elements, who used to execute the abduction and torture orders against Gambians on behalf of the exiled dictator, are still alive and kicking. Such a brutal agency, out to have been banned; its trigger-happy operatives removed from the service.
Since Adama Barrow, has demonstrated that he is not in charge of the government, incidents of such nature are bound to happen. Rogue security agents will cease any opportunity at their disposal to reinvent the Jammeh old political playbook of subjugation of citizens through enforced disappearances and torture.
Wake up Gambia! True reforms can only take place at the SIS, provided that those who used to coordinate and supervise Jammeh’s crimes against our people face the Truth And Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and confess their past crimes. Remember that “OLD HABITS NEVER DIE.”
It should also be noted that there are new agents, who were recently recruited into the SIS; some of whom used to be supporters of the coalition government. We hope they will not be infected by the NIA (SIS) torture fever. Just saying.
The Barrow government should investigate Mr. Bojang’s allegations against the SIS and the army. Detainees reserve the right to be treated with respect, and dignity.
Mr. Bojang is alleging that he was undressed naked, and handcuffed by his captives at the SIS. He was also made to sit on a chair—with his hands and legs stretched. He complains about experiencing blood circulation problems during his detention. This was due to the handcuff tied on his hands and legs. He also said one of his interrogators set fire on his legs.
These are serious charges against the SIS. The SIS is yet to respond to our request for a phone interview on this matter.
The Gambia is at the risk of sliding into another dictatorship, or lawlessness, if the authorities failed to lead and take charge of the direction of this country. Governance does not only stop at attending international meetings; in house cabinet sessions; receiving one’s monthly salary. It is more than that.
The SIS should concentrate on intelligence collection, processing and analysis and avoid its outlet never again to be used as a torture chamber, as it obtains under Jammeh’s rule. We rest our case!