The authorities in The Gambia have released a long detained woman who was arrested in suspicion of secretly thrashing government information to Gambian online media and ex-military officers in abroad. A team of NIA undercover operation arrested Fatou Drammeh on 27 June 2012. She was kept incommunicado until her release.
Fatou worked at National Records office in Banjul. Her problem started when she had a dispute with a workmate about discrimination and nepotism in their office. She suspected that someone who knows her criticisms about the government must have reported her to the security agents.
The fearful National Intelligent Agency (NIA) picked up Fatou from her two children at night. The agents – all dressed in plainclothes – stormed Fatou’s residence with an informer lady personally known to the suspect. While the agents waited outside in an unidentified car, the lady in question called Fatou on her mobile phone requesting to see her urgently.
The NIA officers waiting outside came to appartment and whisked her into the waiting car. Fatou was told she was wanted at the spy agency headquarters in Banjul in connection with some security questions. Instead of telling her what exactly was going on, the agents kept telling Fatou “Calm down, you will know when we arrived at the head office.” They did not allow her to make a phone call and her mobile phone was taken away from her before their arrival in Banjul. She was held incommunicado for over two and half years.
Fatou was released on April 8th, 2015 after she had satisfied a D25, 000 bail bond. The family took her to Senegal for medical treatment. She is expected to appear in court on 19 August 2015.
Upon her release, Fatou’s family asked one secret agent why many Gambians continue to be detained beyond the constitutional 72-hour limit without charge or appearing before the courts. Salifu Nyassi said “such decisions and orders are received from the top; we only do what we are asked to do”.
In explaining to the family the prison condition, Fatou told her family that she faced grave human rights violations in prison, “torture, beaten up, stamped on and forced me to confession, denied me of accessing legal counsel, all kind of degrading human treatment is carried out Gambia prison” she said. “I went through hell”, but I still kept firm because I know I had not done anything morally wrong and let justice guide our actions.” Fatou is reported to have been sick while in detention, denied medical attention and her family was told that she was moved to a different detention centre which they were not allowed to disclose for security reason. Media coverage about her story was less copious due to family’s fear for her life and the gaping holes in the Gambian judicial system which is controlled and dictated by the president Yaya Jammeh.