A former Gambian intelligence chief has branded dictator Yahya Jammeh an unstable leader, egocentric, and unpredictable. Harry Sambou was giving evidence before the TRRC. “This was somebody who was self-centered. He was eccentric to a level whereby threat to the security of the state was threat to his life, threat to him, threat to his family, threat to his properties, he directed everything towards that,” he said.
A former Permanent Secretary, Sambou said working with Jammeh was difficult, as the former Gambian leader would snap at them unexpected.
“He brought about this fear upon the civil service or the armed and security forces, to subjugate them, to fear him, make them obey his order at all times, for all purposes. He was egocentric,” Sambou added.
Sambou said Jammeh was a mentally retarded leader, who was in the business of insulting his workers, and on some occasions threatened them. He added that they were obliged to toe to Jammeh’s line because failure of which could land one in jail or being harmed by his soldiers, whom he described as Jamme’s robots.
Sambou recalled Jammeh accusing him of being an American puppet.
“A former Ambassador to The Gambia, Pamela Ann White, requested to pay me a courtesy call in my office. I directed her write a necessary note verbal to Foreign Affairs and that they will forward it to the President’s office and naturally the President’s office will forward it to me. When the note came he saw it, he approved it of course, but with a footnote that the SG should be present at the meeting, I said okay. The lady came, I invited my deputy, I invited my principal assistant secretary to take notes, the SG sends in a representative. After the normal diplomatic niceties, we went into business. She proposed assistance, of course, training packages to us, and we thanked her for American assistance and cooperation, for the joint fight against terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering and all that stuff, and she was full of praise for young technocrats within the system, she promised further aid. She said it time to continue working and ignore the man’s misbehaviors and concentrate on the job. We agreed and the meeting went fine,” he testified.
“I am obliged to write minutes, describing the meeting, on what happened, what transpired, and I sent it upstairs. I sent it to the President’s office, through the office of the Secretary General. When the minutes came down, he said the Permanent Secretary rather talk about our successes in infrastructure and in other things, opened his big mouth praising the Americans. I throw the file to my deputy and said read that. I told him; do you expect me to be Yahya Jammeh’s Jaliba to this lady? Or did he expects me to talk about Jammeh’s good deeds to this lady? I told my deputy that, that was not my job. That is how he thinks,” he said, while referring to Jammeh’s low IQ and lack of respect for his workers.
Sambou also said NIA was Jammeh’s tool to harass Gambians. He admitted to witnessing the torture of government opponents. He has accused his colleagues such as Lamin Banding Jobarteh, the former Justice Minister, Foday Barry, Salimina Drammeh, Baba Saho and others of torturing detainees at the NIA.