By Makutu Manneh
Edward Singhatey, a former Minister of Defense during the military Government has on Monday explained in detail the circumstancse surrounding the arrest of Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara.
Ex-Captain Edward Singhatey became the vice-chairman of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) after Sanna Sabally was arrested and detained at Mile II.
Sabally was the former vice-chairman, Hydara was a Minister of Interior and Yahya Jammeh was the chairman of the defunct AFPRC Government while Edward Singhatey was a Minister of Defense and later became the Vice-Chairman during the military rule.
Appearing before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Monday, Singhatey said the relationship of their Council deteriorated and at the end, Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were arrested with the allegation that the two were plotting an upheaval against their government.
He said the attitude of Sanna Sabally towards the then chairman of the Council, Yahya Jammeh changed. He said Sanna Sabally became disrespectful to Jammeh.
“Yahya Jammeh informed me that Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were going to launch a coup,” Singhatey said.
Singhatey said he was informed by former President Yahya Jammeh that the two were plotting a coup d’état to unseat him. He added that the former head of State informed him that the intention of both Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were to arrest them and take them to Mile II.
He said this was a time when the relationship among them as members of the defunct Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) deteriorated to a point. He said their relationship began to deteriorate when he chose Jammeh to lead the Council (AFPRC).
“My relationship with Sanna Sabally did deteriorate. We did not see eye to eye. There were problems,” Singhatey said.
He said former President Yahya Jammeh insisted that both Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara should be arrested because they were plotting a coup against him.
Sabally was the former vice-chairman, Hydara was a Minister of Interior and Yahya Jammeh was the chairman of the defunct AFPRC Government while Edward Singhatey was Minister of Defense and later acceded to the Vice-Chairman of the military government.
He said Yahya Jammeh wanted to prove that Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were planning to unseat him. He said Jammeh called Sanna Sabally who in turn connected with Sadibou Hydara. He added that whenever Jammeh calls Sabally, he won’t come unless Hydara comes. He said after the third call, Hydara came to the State House and he moved with Sabally to the Office of the Chairman.
“What we discussed to mitigate the situation was for the orderlies to get them arrested. The group of orderlies who were there, were all briefed as to how they should arrest them.”
“I gave the tactical move to arrest them.”
He said when Sabally and Hydara were coming to the Office of the Chairman, he came out and asked them to halt.
“I took his weapon and found life rounds in the chamber of his weapon ready to be fired,” he said.
He said both Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were arrested together with their orderlies and sent to Mile II. He said the two were tried in a court-martial but Hydara died during the course of the trial while Sanna Sabally was sentenced to 9 – year jail term.
“Sanna Sabally was extremely violent and if I have allowed him to move an inch, anything that happen I will be held responsible for not acting,” he said.
He said Sanna Sabally was not beaten at the point of his arrest because he didn’t refuse arrest.
He denied the allegation that he wanted to succeed Sanna Sabally as the Vice-Chairman of the AFPRC. He said if he wished to have that position, he could have got that on their 1stday. He said he has always wished to return to the barracks and he was not interested in positions.
“I knew it was a terrible injustice to my colleagues,” he said.
He said the investigation report was completely fabricated because it did not occur like that.
“I deeply regretted my involvement in the arrest of Sanna Sabally. The break down in our relationship is highly regrettable,” he said.
He said the last place he saw Sanna Sabally was at the back door to Yahya Jammeh’s office as he denied escorting Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara to Mile II.
“I am extremely sorry to Sanna Sabally,” he said.
He said when he listened to Sanna Sabally’s testimony before the TRRC, he felt deeply sorry adding that this shouldn’t have happened to him.