By Ousman A. Marong
Muhammadou Kaddy Cham, popularly known as MC Cham, a former Lands Minister and member of the then United Party (UP) under the leadership of the late Pierre Sarr Njie, Monday told the lead Counsel Essa M. Faal at the ongoing Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) held at the Dunes Hotel in Kololi, that he was arrested in October 1995 for granting an interview to a local media house (he could not remember the name of the newspaper).
He said during the said interview, he commended the then Sir Dawda K. Jawara Administration for the efforts they have done in the creation of the Gambia Army and the defunct Gendarmerie.
He disclosed that he was arrested by Inspector Jatta and 10 other soldiers whom he could not all remember. MC Cham alleged that the said Inspector Jatta and his men ransacked his house while he was in prison and they took away his books including his official documents.
“No notice or search warrant was given to me before they ransacked my house. I was humiliated and dehumanized in the presence of my family (wife and kids) despite the contribution and great role I played in Gambian politics since the colonial era,” he stated.
Hon. Cham recalled in 1995 when the then military junta under the then leadership of President Jammeh seized his compound in Fajara while he was languishing in jail. He further alleged that his compound was seized together with some materials such as air conditioner. “My family were asked not to take anything from the house except their clothes, and later on the then government ordered that my house roof be detached.
He lamented out that the late Gambian soldier Almamo Manneh hit him with a branch of tree on his back which inflicted injury on his back.
A tearful MC Cham explained how Almamo Manneh blew the bayonet (in military parlance means a knife, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit on the end of a rifle’s muzzle, allowing it to be used as a spear)on the ground just few steps between him and his legs, while accusing him and the Jawara government of stealing government resources for over 30 years and feeding their families. He recalled meeting OJ Jallow, Ousainou Njie, Ismaila Jawara, Saraney Jawara, Imam Saidykhan, Lamin Fadera, Batch Samba Jallow and Amadou Jallow, all in custody at the Fajara Barracks.
He further revealed that two other women who were supporters of the PPP joined them in custody in Fajara. “There was no segregation in the process of maltreating us. We (both men and women) were all maltreated, and in fact the women received the worst treatment, because they were the only two female prisoners and were exposed in the presence of over 30 men in the same prison cell.
“I personally lodged Edward Singhateh together with his two other brothers, Peter Singhateh and Simon Singhateh in my compound for free of charge,” MC Cham further revealed.
He asserted that Edward Singhateh was previously living in the late Musa Njie’s compound together with his late father Gibril Singhateh without paying rent and he was sent out, because Musa Njie by then wanted to renovate his compound.