By Yankuba Jallow
Abdou Karim Bah, the orderly to Sahou Sabally who was the Vice President of the Gambia and Minister of Defense before the July 1994 coup occurred has continued his testimony before the TRRC about his recount of the 11th November 1994 massacre of soldiers by the AFPRC members and their soldiers.
He said on the 10th November 1994, which was a day before the supposed date for the November 11 coup; the members of the Council attacked the Fajara Barracks. He said the coup was plotted with the sole aim of eliminating the Council members because they were not doing as expected of them.
Bah in his testimony yesterday told the Commission that he escaped the Fajara Barracks attack by the Council members and their soldiers. He said he escaped to Manjai Kunda with Sergeant Nyang Kabareh, Lang Badjie, and Katim Touray. He said Touray fled to Senegal whereas Kabareh went to the Fajara Barracks to find a way to return their weapons that they escaped with.
He said whilst they were sleeping under a tree in Manjai, they were woken by Peter Singhatey who requested them to hand over their weapons to him. He added that Singhatey used his shoelace to cuff him at his back and took him to the Yundum Barracks. He told the TRRC that he was not tortured at the time of his arrest.
At the Yundum Barracks, he said they were undressed, interrogated and detained in a cell. He adduced that the people whom he was detained with included Lieutenant Gibril Saye, Cadet Sillah, and Lieutenant Buba Jammeh, Lamin Darboe, Landing Badjie, Seedy Manjang, Mballow Saidykhan, Mafuji Sonko, and others.
He said their statements were taken by the military police at the Yundum Camp. He said in the following morning, he was slapped on his face and this was the only physical torture he suffered in the hands of the AFPRC regime. He said whilst at the Barracks, he saw Edward Singhatey, Yankuba Touray, Sanna Sabally, Sadibou Hydara, and CDS Baboucar Jatta as well as many other soldiers.
He said they were provided with lunch on that day and whilst eating, RSM Papu Gomez who is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Gambia Armed Forces opened the cell and asked all officers and upcoming officers to come out. He said the officers and upcoming officers left the cell and they were handcuffed by Alagie Kanyi and RSM Papu Jeng. He added that these people were put in a land rover with a number plate GNA 111 to the range where they were executed. He said the number of people who were removed from the cell were about 8.
He said the entourage that went to the range was headed by Sanna Sabally and his three co Council members. He said the former CDS Jatta was with them as well. He said when they came back from the range; they dumped the dead bodies in a ditch that was dug by some soldiers.
“Whosoever left the cell on that day never returned to the cell,” he adduced.
He said the people who were taken to the range included Lieutenant Buba Jammeh, Gibril Saye, Lamin Darboe and Cadet Sillah.
He averred that he was transferred to Security Wing Number One in Mile II. He said whilst at Mile II, he suffered toothache and he was taken to the RVTH where it was uprooted by a doctor. He said that the doctor did not uproot the whole tooth instead left some parts in his mouth. He added that the doctor used a plier to uproot the remaining part because the officers who guarded him were in a haste to return to Mile II. He said as a result of the plier, he bleed heavily and he was denied the chance to take his medication that the doctor gave him by the prison authorities in the cell.
He said sometime in January 1995, he was moved from Security Wing Number 1 to Security Wing Number 4 and they were replaced by Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Hydara who at this time were brought in as detainees by Edward Singhatey.
He said he could remember that Sabally and Hydara were tortured twice by soldiers. He said one of the days the duo were tortured, he saw Sergeant Alagie Martins with a hammer and the other day he saw him with a box that has electrical wires.
“When they passed, we heard Sanna and Sadibou screaming. They were crying,” the witness said.
He said during the second torture, electric shocks were used.
He said he spent six (6) months at Mile and returned to Yundum Camp. He said the State wanted to use them as witnesses in the case against Sergeant Kabareh. He said he was later released and relieved of his services in the army. He said before he was dismissed, he was charged with a criminal offense of concealing information about the November 11 attempted coup and as a result, he was discharged from the army. He said on the 20th September 1995, he fled to Senegal and proceeded to the USA where he obtained asylum.
On his recommendations, the witness called on the government to increase the salary and benefits of soldiers. He said the problems that soldiers faced in 1994 are the same problems they are still facing in the Gambia today. He opined that the victims must be adequately compensated.
Sittings continue today at 10 am.