NIA DG excoriated over ‘destruction of evidence’
The director of former National Intelligence Agency now renamed SIS, Ousman Sowe, has been scorched for alleged destruction of evidence after a visit by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Committee.
Ousman Sowe who served the NIA for over two decades in various roles claims to have no idea of any torture that may have taken place at the agency, yet served as head of investigations at some stage.
Director General of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Ousman Sowe speaking to TRRC commisioners
The current DG accompanied members of the TRRC on a conducted tour of the agency where it seemed evident that the areas that were said to be torture chambers have all been changed or painted over. The NIA has been described as hell on Earth for those who have been detained at the facility and tortured using sophisticated torture equipment, yet there appears to be no apparent sign of any of this as a result of the renovation, rebuilding and removal of equipment that were used to abuse citizens. Political commentator Pata PJ said of the development: “I just watched the TRRC's visit to the NIA and I am livid. I'm angry and insulted that Mr Sowe the Director General is lying to the whole country about everything he said. Every soul knew that the NIA was a torture, rape and murder centre. Obviously, they'd be a major institution of interest. So to change anything from facilities, equipment or looks, even it were throwing paint over them, will obviously be a deliberate move to conceal and/or tamper with evidence. Why then would the DG undertake any initiative to change, face lift or rebuild anything? And he kept telling us 'since we took over' like some outsider came in and got handed a basket of an Institution. Ousman Sowe has been working with the NIA for at least 2 decades. When he was appointed DG, he was NOT a junior officer. He was a part of the institution even if he was not the head. Sowe CANNOT say that he had never witnessed torture or had no knowledge of any”. He added: “As a matter of fact, a former NIA staff Bubacarr Badjie in 2017 in a complaint written to President Barrow, alleged that the DG and his staff were destroying evidence including painting bloodied areas. Today, you could see changes in floors and walls. This is criminal. Sowe knew what he was doing, and that was destruction of potential evidences. As it is today, you can send anyone to Bamba Dinka and they will think it was a police cell cos they face-lifted it. Far from the notorious accounts of all and every victim that entered that hell hole. TRRC chairman and lead Counsel did NOT mince their words and issuing an order to cease and desist is very apt. And I hope they insist on the Agency providing everything that victims alleged they had, including equipment of torture. Failure to must be considered to be wilful cover-up”. Also weighing in on the debate,US-based Gambian author Saikou Camara observes: “DG Sowe came across as someone attempting to protect and sanitise the image of the NIA in my opinion. He is either knowingly or unknowingly obstructing the investigations being carried out by the TRRC. Everybody and their grandma knows that several human right abuses/violations took place at the NIA. But he worked there for nearly 24 yrs as an analyst, and in his own account he has never witnessed or being made aware of any human rights violations at that institution he is now leading. That is an insult to the TRRC and all good meaning Gambians. Disappointing to say the least in DG Sowe and his staff”.