By Yankuba Jallow
Major Abdou Karim Jah, the Director of Records at the defence headquarters has accused ex-President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh of dividing the army after the March 2006 foiled military coup.
The Director of Records said some members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) were killing each other because they were greedy for promotion.
Jah appeared before the TRRC in connection with his alleged involvement in the foiled coup plot masterminded by ex-army colonel Ndure Cham.
Born on the 13 January 1963, Jah joined the Gambia Cooperative Union as a summary clerk in 1982 in Jappineh before joining the Gambia Armed Forces in 1983.
Jah was arrested at home on the 22nd March 2006 at 3 am by some soldiers and taken to Mile 2. He explained the soldiers who went to arrest him scale his fence, adding he was informed by the arresting officers that they were sent by then Deputy Chief of Defence Staff Lang Tombong Tamba.
He said his pistol was confiscated by the soldiers who took him to the security wing number 5 at Mile Two Prison. He detailed that the three arresting officers were in GAF uniform.but the others waiting in the vehicle were dressed in ‘black-black’
Jah said the following morning; he was moved from Mile 2 and taken to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by men dressed in clothes–in the persons of Ismaila Jammeh and Malick Jatta.
On their way to NIA, he said Malick Jatta pulled out a pistol and attempted to shoot him, but he was stopped by Ismaila Jammeh who hit Jatta’s hand and the pistol fell.
In spite of that, he sustained a small injury on his head and blood oozed out of his body.
At the NIA, Jah was ushered upstairs at the conference room before an investigative panel of more than 20 men. He said Lang Tombong Tamba, Ousman Sonko former Minister of Interior, Foday Barry and Alagie Martin were among the panelists.
The witness said the investigators asked him to explain his involvement in the March 2006 coup and his response was that he was a staff of the Army Headquarters.
Jah said he told the panel he once heard Ndure Cham at his office saying he will remove ex-former President Yahya Jammeh because ‘he wasn’t a good man’. The witness said he told Ndure Cham that he was not interested in participating in the planned coup.
Jah told the Commission that the investigators asked him to provide them with further information because what he knew about it was not all he informed them. He testified Lang Tombong Tamba wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to the person who was questioning him.
He said after giving his statement, he was taken back to Mile 2 by the Junglers.
He said while sleeping at Mile Two one day, he heard one Omar Colley alias Jagai shouting names of some detainees including Daba Marena, Alieu Lowe, Alpha Bah and Alieu Ceesay. The witness said these people were all detained in connection with the coup.
“I decided to hide in the dark to prevent the junglers from seeing me,” the witness said.
The witness alleged that Jagai was the most powerful person at Mile2.
He said he was charged with treason and during the course of the trial, he was denied family access. He added that the charge of treason was substituted with concealment of treason for him while the treason charge was maintained on others.
Those charged with concealment to treason were himself, late Corporal Samba Bah, Lance Corporal Alagie Nying, Babou Janha and a few others.
The witness said on the 1st June 2006, he was taken to NIA where he was asked to write cautionary and voluntary statements before Chief Superintendent Boto Keita.
He testified that Keita informed him that he would be used as a witness, but he rescinded from saying he cannot testify against his seniors.
He said Crime Management Coordinator Demba Sowe at the time informed him that the Director of public Prosecution wanted to use him as a witness and he was asked to sign the statement. He said he was not used as a witness instead he was charged with treason.
Major Jah recollected that the Judge Advocate was Justice Agim who stated before the judgment was read that some of the accused persons will be going home and those who were convicted should accept that it was a destiny from God.
He said at this point Jagai and late Nfally Jabang went out of the court and all of a sudden, Jagai gave a telephone to Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana who passed it to Justice Agim.
The witness said the case was stand down for 30 minutes and when it resumed, they were all convicted and sentenced according to their respective charges.
The witness testified that the panel members of the court-martial were later charged as participants in the foiled coup.
After conviction and sentencing, Jah served for 9 years and 4 months after which he was pardoned by the ex-head of state, Yahya Jammeh.
“Jagai was more powerful than David Colley and every little thing, he will threaten to seal that individual,” the witness said.He testified that the Junglers brought in one man who he later came to know as Kanyi-Ba Kanyi at Mile 2. He said Captain Yahya Darboe told him that Kanyi was his school mate.
“Kanyi-Ba Kanyi left Mile2 on the 21st September 2006 at 21 hours in the evening,” the witness said.
He said Kanyi-ba left in good physical condition and was looking healthy.
“I was absolutely disappointed when I was not released after Demba Sowe promised me that I was going to be released, I feel disappointed and betrayed by the system,” he said.
He said Lang Tombong Tamba regretted his actions after he joined them in Mile 2 as a detainee.
He said the army became divided in 2006 and this was mainly for greed and lack of ethics. He said some would go to the extent of fabricating documents to secure people’s conviction under the reign of Yahya Jammeh.
There was command and control in the army before 2006, but Yahya Jammeh succeeded in dividing the army, because he was the one controlling the Army, he added.
“After 2006, Yahya Jammeh used ranks to buy loyalty, even if you washed his sheep, he gives you a rank,” Jah said.
He is with the opinion that the 1994 coup by Yahya Jammeh and his Junta Members was as a result of greed adding Jammeh was the most corrupt individual in the country.
He called on his fellow security members to learn from the past and ensure that they do not repeat their misdeeds.