By Nelson Manneh
The General Court-Martial Monday 27th May acquitted and discharged Brigadier Generals Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba from a charge of desertion brought against them by the prosecution.
“The desertion charge of Brigadier General Umpa Mendy and Ansumana Tamba was brought pursuant to section 53 of the (GAF) Act. In view of the fact, we found Brigadier General Umpa Mendy and Brigadier General Ansumana Tamba not guilty of the charge,” the President of the court-martial delivered.
The Judge advocate, Aminata Saho-Ceesay in her summary, said desertion requires that the accused person must have the intention of not returning to his or her unit or post and it also requires failure to report to duties for a period of six (6) months.
In attendance at the Court-Martial were Commodore M. Senghore (president), Brigadier General RDK Sanneh, Colonel H. Sambou, Colonel S. Bojang, Captain (N) S. Barrow and Captain (N) FJ Baldeh. The judge advocate was Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay of the Banjul High Court.
The two army Generals were charged with a single count of desertion. The prosecution brought six (6) witnesses and tendered 8 exhibits to prove the guilt of the accused persons on the charge. The defence failed in their pursuit on the ‘no case submission’. The court then asked the accused persons to enter their defence. The defence called two witnesses and tendered two exhibits to prove their innocence.
Prosecution witness one (PW1) Abdou Karim Bah, the Director of Records at Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) told the court-martial the last day the accused persons reported to work. PW2, Captain Morro F. Sanneh is the commander of the Banjul Military Police Unit, PW3 was Captain Baboucar Ngum the head of the military police at the Yundum Barracks. PW4 was Corporal Ismaila Bojang who cautioned the accused persons at the time they were making their voluntary statement. PW5 was Captain Ousman Jallow who adduced that he left with ex-President Yahya Jammeh and his family to Equatorial Guinea where he spent only 3 days and returned to The Gambia. PW6 was Major Abdoulie Jallow, the communication officer of the GAF who told the court-martial that at the time Ansumana Tamba was leaving with the former President and his family to Equatorial Guinea, he told him that he is escorting them and will be coming back.
The two Generals in their defence explained to the court the circumstance of their departure with the former President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh and his family. Both of them told the court that they were identified by their superior, General Saul Badjie to escort the President and his family to Guinea Conkary, adding that after arriving in Guinea, they were told that they were going to Equatorial Guinea. Both explained challenges they encountered in the central African country while staying with Jammeh and his family including the struggle to acquire a return ticket to The Gambia. Both Umpa and Ansumana told the court that they used to communicate to the ex-President Jammeh through General Saul Badjie.
Umpa joined the Gambia National Army on the 11th January 1988 and he was attached to the State House. Ansumana joined the Gambia National Army in July 1989. Ansumana has also served as an ADC to ex-President Jammeh for a year and half before becoming the State Guard Commander.
The State was represented by MB Abubacar along with Lieutenant B. Sanneh whereas the accused persons were represented by Uzoma Achigbue, Charles S. Thomas, A.K. Ceesay and other army officers.
Speaking to General Tamba after the verdict of the court, he said the trial was a test for him and it has made him more ready to serve the country than ever.
“I am committed now than ever to serve the country,” Brigadier General Tamba told Foroyaa.
He said he has been a loyal member of the Gambia Armed Forces and he will ever remain in this course.