Imam Leigh Exposes NIA Ordeal

By Abdoulie John

In a rare moment of deep sadness, Imam Baba Leigh on Wednesday revisited the circumstances surrounding his arrest in 2012 and subsequent detention by the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He had gotten himself into a predicament after describing the execution of 9 death row inmates as “un-Islamic.”

“I don’t believe in killing,” the renowned Muslim Cleric told the truth commission as he took the stand to testify about his ordeal under the Jammeh regime.

Last Monday, the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) started its Eleventh Session. The vocal Imam of Kanifing South mosque appeared before the TRRC and delved into the August 2012 executions that sparked waves of reactions in the country and across the globe.

As the former regime went into ‘damage control’ mode in trying to absolve the Gambia’s former longtime ruler from any wrong doing, Imam Leigh said he had vehemently debunked the narrative that was being pushed by the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (GSIC), suggesting that inmates were killed under Shariah law, but not by Yahya Jammeh – a position amplified by the State-owned broadcaster Gambia Radio Television Services.

Imam Leigh said he even had the opportunity to meet with Alhagie Momodou Lamin Touray, the current GSIC President and clearly telling him what they were doing was totally wrong.

“Momodou L. Touray told me they have no choice,” he revealed, addibg that the GSIC top official was just being careful.

“He knew very well that the trial of the death row inmates was not done according to Shariah,” he stated.

On the 3rd December 2012, plainclothes officers arrested Inam Leigh and took him to the NIA headquarter in Banjul. For nine good days, he went on, Yahya Jammeh’s henchmen subjected him to a series of torture that included severe beatings, water boarding and suffocation with plastic bags…

As he was going through gruesome torture techniques, Imam narrated the horrifying moment when the torturers dug a grave for him and partly buried him.

Imam Leigh said his torturers kept asking him to make false confessions aimed at implicating PPP’s Omar Amadou Jallow, Kebba Touray, the Senegalese religious leader Thierno Abdourakhmane Barry, and the American Embassy.

Up to his release in May 2013, the Muslim Cleric held firm on his ground and did not succumb to their demands….


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