By Yankuba Jallow
Edward Singhatey, a former chairman of the redundant AFPRC regime has on Monday denied having any knowledge about the alleged murder of Ousman Koro Ceesay, a former Minister of Finance of their government.
Singhatey, together with ex-Captains Sanna Sabally, Sadibou Hydara, Yankuba Touray and Yahya Jammeh unseated the PPP government in 1994 with support of other soldiers.
“I completely deny participation in the killing of Ousman Koro Ceesay. He was my colleague and we had a good relationship,” Singhatey said.
Appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Monday, Singhatey said the last time he saw Mr. Ousman Koro Ceesay alive was at the airport when they went to see former President Jammeh. He said the following day while at the Stadium playing football he received information about Ceesay’s demise.
“We (the soldiers) were blamed for his death,” Singhatey said.
Singhatey said he attended the burial of the late Minister of Finance. He added that there was an investigation conducted and the report was handed to the former head of state, Yahya Jammeh.
“I don’t believe this heinous crime was committed at Yankuba’s house,” he said.
“Yankuba would have been completely out of his mind to allow this crime to happen in his house,” he said.
“Why was Mr. Koro Ceesay killed?” Essa M. Faal, the Lead Counsel to the Commission asked.
“To the best of my knowledge, it involved some money that was taken to the Cassamance rebels in the sum of between $200,000 to $250,000,” he said.
He said he held a meeting with former President Jammeh together with Koro Ceesay and the former Director of the National Intelligence Agency Mr. Sowe. He said former President Jammeh was complaining about the border closure between The Gambia and Senegal. He said ex-Director General Bah suggested that the former head of State should use diplomatic means but Koro Ceesay made suggestion to Jammeh to change the ferry at the Bao Bolong to bring a small one in order so that the Senegalese trucks wouldn’t be able to cross. Singhatey said former President agreed to Koro Ceesay’s proposal and he made orders for that to be carried out.
He said the money was given to Koro Ceesay to hand over to a senior rebel leader in Cassamance. Singhatey said Yahya Jammeh used to give the Cassamance rebels money. He said the money came from Libya and the Gambia Government was only supposed to hand over it to the Cassamance rebels.
He said the money was not meant for the Gambia Government because it came through intelligence operatives. He said monies that were meant for the Gambia Government usually came through the right channel and not through intelligence operatives.
Singhatey denied having problem with Koro Ceesay in reaction to what Koro Ceesay’s sister (Bajen Ceesay) told the TRRC that her that his brother told their family that Edward Singhatey threatened to kill him.
“Once he told me who his father was, our relationship became stronger,” Singhatey said.
He said Koro Ceesay’s father was his headmaster when he was at Bakau Primary School who was caring to him, his younger brother – Peter Singhatey and his younger sister.
“Koro was our Finance Minister and we all relied on his expertise for the economy to grow,” Singhatey said.
He said the Council (AFPRC) had nothing to hide and therefore, Ousman Koro Ceesay could not have any information that they did not want him to disclose.
He denied being at Yankuba Touray’s house on the night Koro Ceesay was killed. Singhatey was confronted with Lamin Marong, one of his orderlies’ testimony that he was left at Yankuba Touray’s resident. This orderly said Singhatey was dropped at Yankuba Touray’s residence without an orderly. Lamin Fatty, one of his orderlies testified Singhatey was dropped at Yankuba Touray’s house. He was challenged with Captain Ahmed Jangom’s testimony and Lamin Ndour, the driver to Yankuba Touray who both said Singhatey was there at the night Koro Ceesay was killed, but Singhatey denied their testimony. Singhatey was also confronted with the testimony of ex-Corporal Alagie Kanyi who said both of them participated in the killing of Koro Ceesay. Alagie Kanyi said both Yankuba Touray and Edward Singhatey were at Yankuba Touray’s house where Koro was allegedly killed. Kanyi said he was with Tumbul Tamba and 2 others, and they were briefed by Edward Singhatey about the operation. Kanyi said around 9 pm, Peter Singhatey was the first to arrive and he hid somewhere in the house. Kanyi said five minutes later, Edward Singhatey, Yankuba Touray and one civilian cabinet – Ousman Koro Ceesay arrived inside the house. Kanyi adduced that nobody was in the house – he said he did not see the family of Yankuba Touray. Kanyi explained that Edward Singhatey used a pestle and hit Ousman Koro Ceesay thrice. Kanyi added that Yankuba Touray, Peter Singhatey and himself all hit Koro Ceesay.
Singhatey said Alagie Kanyi was not a trustworthy soldier because he had betrayed the 11thNovember 1994 coupist. He said no person in his right thinking mind would ask Kanyi to join him in committing a crime of such nature.
“I don’t see Kanyi on this day. I did not know Kanyi well enough to commit a crime with him. What Kanyi has mentioned did not and could not have happened. He (Kanyi) was not told anything by myself,” he said.
He said he has never worked with Alagie Kanyi.
He denied participating in the torture of Captain Mamat O. Cham, Ebrima Chongan, RSM Jeng and other security detainees. He also denied the allegation that he participated in the torture of OJ and other detainees on the 6th September 1994. He repudiated the allegation that he shot Basirou Camara, Fafa Nyang and EM Ceesay on the 11th November 1994. He denied to have fired at the executed soldiers at the Lance Corporal Bojang’s Range around Brikama. He also denied the accusation that he shot Alagie Kebbeh.
“You have denied 50 allegations all of which point to your direct involvement in those issues,” Essa Faal told Singhatey.
“No Counsel. That is a gross exaggeration. The allegation does not reach 50,” Singhatey said.
“The allegation I have denied. I haven’t done them. I can’t accept what I have not done even heaven falls,” he said.
He said throughout his entire career in the Gambia National Army (GNA) he has never killed any person.