By Yankuba Jallow
Edward David Singhatey, a former vice-chairman of the defunct AFPRC government has admitted their military government has committed several human rights violations.
Singhatey, together with Sanna Sabally, Yahya Jammeh, Sadibou Hydara and Yankuba Touray set up the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) after knocking down the 30 – year rule of the PPP regime.
He held several portfolios in both the AFPRC and APRC Governments including the Minister of Defence, Minister of Trade and Employment and Minister of Works and Construction.
Singhatey admitted that they had tortured and unlawfully detained several people and killed many including soldiers.
The 51 – year – old appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission on Wednesday, 16th October 2019 after he was subpoenaed by the TRRC to appear as an adversely mentioned person by several witnesses.
Singhatey was a former employee of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority as an electronic technician from 1990 to 1991. He joined The Gambia National Army in 1991.
Arrest of Security Chiefs after the takeover
He said after taking over the country, the situation was not certain and that was the reason why they passed a military decree so that some officers who they believed to be security threats to be apprehended and detained at Mile II. He said they detained several soldiers, but others were also detained by Sanna Sabally without any consultations with them.
“They were detained mainly by Sanna Sabally. Some of them were detained not on the orders or agreement of the Council in general,” he said, adding that “there were several detentions that were not consulted.”
He said there were some of the detainees who should not have been detained at that time. He said those detainees included Captains Ebrima Kambi, Ben Wilson, Ndour Cham, Lieutenants Alagie Kanteh and Alpha Kinteh among others.
He said these officers were detained under horrible conditions at the security wing of Mile II.
“We knew that they were detained and their condition of detention was horrible,” he said.
“I put it to Jammeh that I feel that I am responsible ab initio. I deeply felt this. It is remorseful,” he said.
Arrest of OJ & Others
He said on his return to Banjul, he met Sanna Sabally with soldiers including his guards at Mile II and he decided to go inside to meet them. He said there were some people who were beaten.
“They were treated badly,” he said, adding that “as soon as I saw what was happening, I left for the State House. When I explained that to Jammeh, he laughed.”
Torture of Security Detainees on the 6thSeptember 1994
He said their intention was to go and interrogate the security detainees about the alleged coup plot. He said they arrived there at night together with their orderlies, his younger brother Peter Singhatey, their drivers and some soldiers from the State House. Singhatey said he was not in charge of the operation and he was not with his rifle.
“As far as I can recall, Mamat Cham was dragged out of the cell and hit on the face by a soldier standing next to me with an AK 47 and he collapsed,” he said.
He denied hitting Captain Mamat Cham with the use of his AK 47. He also denied that statement made by Mamat Cham that he pointed a gun in his mouth.
“I did not hit or kick Mamat Cham,” he said.
He said ex-Assistant Inspector General of Police Ebrima Chongan and RSM Jeng were also beaten.
“I did not touch anyone. I was there to interrogate them, but they were first beaten. Once we were ready, we left,” he said.
“We shouldn’t have been there. For everything that happened, we have a shared responsibility. It was a Council decision.”
“I take full responsibility of the action of soldiers who were under me,” he said.
“There was no excuse for what happened to the security detainees,” he said.
“My participation is not excusable and I apologize.”
November 10 & 11
He said they were told about a coup in the making and investigations by the military intelligence and the NSS indicated the coup was imminent. He said as a Council, they decided to go and talk to the soldiers at the barracks with the intention of making them change their minds.
He said all Council members went to the Yundum Barracks and they explained to the soldiers to be more patient. He said the allegations were that Council members bought beautiful houses for themselves and that they did not mind their conditions.
“We have made promises to them and we told them that The Gambia was not a rich country. They have to be a bit patient,” he said.
He said he persuaded his brother Peter Singhatey to join him.
“My brother reluctantly joined me because I told him the coup plotters have in their plans to arrest members of the Council and their families,” he said.
He said they proceeded to the State House.
“There was no time for a Council meeting because we were about to be attacked,” he said.
He said they stood outside the guard room at the State House and they agreed that they should go and quell the coup.
“We agreed to go and kill them,” he said.
He said they went with less than a hundred men. He said they stopped kilometres from the Yundum Barracks. He went together with two other soldiers to assess the situation within the barracks. He said there was exchange of gun fire between Sanna Sabally’s troops and soldiers in the camp for hours. He said after a while, they took over the camp and some of the soldiers who were part of the coup dispersed. He added that once in the Yundum Barracks, they were informed that soldiers were mobilizing and were planning to launch an attack on them. He said there was exchange of fire at the Fajara Barracks too.
Singhatey will continue with his testimony on Thursday, 17th October 2019 at 10 am.