By Yankuba Jallow
The first prosecution witness Alagie Kanyi on Thursday 16th May 2019 testified in the trial of Yankuba Touray and Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay.
Yankuba Touray, an erstwhile member of the defunct AFPRC government and Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay, an ex-Speaker of the National Assembly were arraigned before the high court on counts of conspiracy to commit felony contrary to section 368 of the Criminal Code and interference with potential TRRC witness or informant contrary to section 36A of TRRC Act. They were granted bail on the 16th April by the High Court.
When the case was called before Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay of the Banjul High Court, Counsel AN Yusuf appeared for the State and Lawyer Abdoulie Sisoho represented the two accused persons.
Alagie Kanyi said he is a resident of Jarra Sankuya village in the Lower River Region (LRR). He said he was enlisted in the Gambia National Army on 15th January 1986 and left the army on the 15th January 1998. After leaving the army, Kanyi said he joined the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) on 1st October 1998.
He said he recognized Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay (FJC) from television as an ex-Speaker of the National Assembly although he admitted that he has never met her. For Yankuba Touray (the 1st Defendant), Kanyi said he knows him from the army because they all passed out in the same year. Notwithstanding, Kanyi put forward that he was enlisted under the 5th Intake whilst Touray was part of Intake 6.
His Testimony About the Case
Kanyi told the court that sometime in January 2019, while coming from his home village (Sankuya) to Soma, he received a call from a lady who identified herself as FJ.
“I said FJ who, she said Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay,” Kanyi adduced.
Kanyi said after greetings, the lady told him she came to him as a former orderly to Edward Singhatey, an ex-member of the defunct AFPRC government. Kanyi added that the lady told him that she got his number from Yankuba Touray. Kanyi denied being a former orderly to Singhatey who was one-time a vice chairman of the military government that ruled the Gambia from 1994 to 1996. Kanyi said FJC then informed him about the information that Yankuba Touray told her.
“She said Yankuba Touray told her that I was called by the TRRC. She asked me what did the TRRC ask me and I told her that they asked me about the 11th November incident,” Kanyi adduced.
Kanyi said: “She said to me don’t worry you people are junior officers don’t mind,” adding that the lady asked for his WhatsApp number.
“I told her my WhatsApp number is 7633692 but now I changed it,” Kanyi said.
Kanyi adduced that the lady advised him to take care of his mother and promised to send him something to support him. After the call, Kanyi said he returned the call and thanked the lady for her advice.
“I said to her ‘Ma’ thank you very much for the advice. I really need your help because this TRRC is not easy,”Kanyi said.
“Why do you ask for help from her?” Counsel AN Yusuf asked the witness.
“Because a prominent person like her asking me to take care of my mother can also help me in any other way into their TRRC affair,” Kanyi said.
“Why do you refer to her as a prominent lady?” Counsel Yusuf asked.
“I recognized her as a former Speaker of the National Assembly- an iron lady for that matter,” Kanyi said.
“What were you expecting from her as help?” Yusuf asked.
“Talk to the TRRC people to make things easy for me,” Kanyi said.
Kanyi told the court that before these calls, he has never spoken to the lady who introduced herself to him as FJ adding that their discussion was only about the TRRC and that there were no discussions aside of the TRRC.
“I even wonder why she called me because I have never had any affair with her,” the witness said.
About Yankuba Touray
Kanyi said on the same day, he received a call from a man who identified himself as Yanks- Yankuba Touray. He said the man told him his army regimentation number.
“I told him ‘yes sir’. He told me were you called by these people and I asked which people ‘sir’? He said to me TRRC and I said ‘yes sir’. He (the man) also told me that he was also called,” Kanyi told the court.
Kanyi said the man asked him whether he was not asked about the incident that happened at his residence.
“I responded not yet. He told me ‘don’t mind these people they can do nothing to you. Are we not your commanders? I said ‘yes sir’,” Kanyi detailed.
He said the man enquired about whether FJC called him which he responded in the positive. Kanyi said the man disclosed to him that he was the one who gave her (FJC) his number.
“He (the man) emphasized don’t mind these people they can’t do anything; we are your commanders. They are only here for two (2) years to fuck off from this place. He “ring” (rang) off,” the witness said.
Kanyi said after the man rang off the call, he called back the man and told him: “I told him sir since you are our commanders, you can first go so that we can learn from you people.”
Kanyi said the man still maintained that he should not mind ‘these people’.
“When did the incident Yankuba Touray asked you about happened?” Yusuf asked.
“It happened when I was in the army,” Kanyi said adding that it happened in 1995. He added that the incident was about the murder of Koro Ceesay. He said those who participated in that incident (of murdering Koro Ceesay) were himself, Yankuba Touray, Edward Singhatey, Peter Singhatey, Tumbul Tamba, Pa Alieu Gomez and P.R. Jatta. He said he was with Yankuba Touray from 1986 to July 1994, but not in the same company.
He said he appeared before the TRRC on Thursday, 28th February 2019. He explained that he was called by Alagie Barrow, the head of Investigation of the Commission (TRRC) to come and make a statement with regard to the 11th November 1994 incident. He indicated that Barrow as well as Essa M. Faal, the Lead Counsel of the TRRC and two others whilst making the statement did not advise him of his rights including his constitutional right to remain silent.
“They only advised me to speak the truth,” Kanyi said.
“Did they advise you about your right to remain silent or not to say anything?” Sisoho asked.
“No, they didn’t” Kanyi replied.
“Did they tell you that you are going to be a witness before the Commission?” the defence lawyer asked.
“Yes, Thursday the 28th February 2019” Kanyi replied.
“Do you remember the date you made your statement at the TRRC?” the lawyer asked.
“No, I can’t remember the date but it was in January 2019,” the witness said. The defence lawyer put it to the witness that it was on the 5th January 2019 even though Kanyi maintained that he couldn’t recall the date.
Kanyi denied making calls to both accused persons thanking them for their calls.
“I called Yankuba Touray twice but I only thanked Fatoumata Jahumpa Ceesay for her call,” Kanyi said whilst denying the question by the defence Counsel that he called Touray three times and the fourth time was a missed call.
“Mr. Kanyi, is it true that all calls emanating from the accused persons and the calls that emanated from you all happened before you made a statement at the TRRC,” Counsel Sisoho asked.
“Yes,” Kanyi answered.
“Was TRRC aware of these calls,” the lawyer asked.
“Yes,” the witness answered.
“Did they ask you to put it into your statement?” the Lawyer asked.
“No,” the witness said.
“How many calls did you make to Yankuba Touray,” Sisoho asked.
“I remembered two calls,” Kanyi replied.
“Which of your testimonies is the truth – is it the one you made before the TRRC or the one you made before this court? At the TRRC you said Yankuba Touray called you and told you ‘not to mind them’ you told the whole Gambia that you slammed the phone from him and now you told the court a different thing,” Sisoho said.
“I can’t remember,” Kanyi said.
“On your testimony on the 28th February 2019, you did not tell the whole Gambia that you have in fact called the 1st accused person (Yankuba Touray),” Sisoho said.
“Yes, I did not because I feel that the TRRC and the court are different. I was also not asked,” Kanyi said.
Lawyer Sisoho put it to the witness that his calls were recorded and were over 5 minutes each. “I don’t know” Kanyi replied.
“All the three calls emanating from your end lasted for over five minutes. Are you aware of that?” Sisoho asked.
“I am not aware,” Kanyi said.
“You told the TRRC that you slammed the phone on the 1st accused person (Yankuba Touray). Now tell the court why you were calling him?” the Lawyer posed.
Kanyi in his response said: “Because he said he was our commander”.
When asked what was the conversation between him and Touray, he said he couldn’t remember. He said he made the second call to Mr. Touray and told him that he was waiting for the TRRC call.
The matter was adjourned to Monday the 20th May 2019 for the continuation of cross-examination of Kanyi from 10 to 11 am.