Another Nov. 11 1994 victim ends testimony

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Mafugie Sonko, yesterday continued his testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) chaired by deputy chairperson, Commissioner Adelaide Sosseh.

The witness who had earlier told the Commission that Lt. Peter Singhateh was the first to fire at Lt. Dot Faal at Fajara Barracks pointed out that another shooting incident took place.

He clarified that Dot Faal did not die instantly but was still breathing until after the 2nd shooting in which Lt. Basirou Barrow was shot and killed.

He explained that during the 2nd shooting, some soldiers fell down and that it was during the 3rd shooting and in the ensuing commotion that Lt. Jarju ran away.

He further explained that after the 3rd shooting, the falling soldiers were put inside the Gumbo Lowe truck and they headed for Yundum Barrack.

“We lifted and carried the dead bodies about 5 and put them on the truck and proceeded to Yundum Barracks” he stated.

The witness revealed that they arrived at Yundum Barracks at dawn and the truck moved towards the cook house.

“Those of us that were not killed were marched into the cell,” he added.

The witness said Lt. Sana Sabally returned with some senior military officers and instructed that the dead bodies be taken and buried in a mass grave.

He stated that Lt. Sana Sabally further instructed that all the lieutenants locked in the two cells be brought, saying that they were going to kill them.

The witness further stated that all the AFPRC council members were present except Yahya Jammeh, adding that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Col. Babucarr Jatta and some military police personnel were present.

He said 12 soldiers were put inside the truck and then covered with tarpaulin and headed towards Brikama.

The witness revealed that several officers were arrested and he was removed from the original cell that he was placed and taken to another cell with Sgt. Nyankabare and even if you put your hand in front of you will not be able to see it.

The witness said Sgt Nyan Kabareh, WO2 Abu Trawally, Cpl. Amadou Kebbeh, Baba E. Manneh, Cpl. Nfam Camara from Kudang, Omar Njie and himself were taken to Mile 2 Prisons where they found some senior officers like Captain Ebrima Kambi, Mamat Cham, Kebba Ceesay, former DG of the then NSS and some other officers.

He described the condition of the cell as very deplorable, noting that the cell was very small in size, poorly ventilated and they were allowed to take bath once a day.

The witness told the Commission that after sometime, Sgt. Nyan Kabareh, Wo2 Abu Trawally, Baba E. Manneh, Sgt. Manjang and Omar Njie were arraigned before a court martial and they were eventually sentenced to serve 9 years jail term.

The witness disclosed that he was also taken from Mile 2 Prisons to the Army Headquarters and to the NIA Headquarters in Banjul and then to court-martial.

He said he attended court martial with Lt. Sana Sabally the same day and thereafter he was removed as a detainee from the security wing to the main yard.

He explained that the Prison DG, David Colley was the very person who gave him prisoner uniform and asked him to go to the main yard where he served 9 years jail term without any trial.

The witness disclosed that there was unrest at the main yard relating to food and he was transferred to Jeshwang Prison.

He explained that as a result of the unrest, prisoners refused to come out and take part in activities which prompted David Colley to report to the Army Headquarters in Banjul and soldiers were brought to Mile 2 Prisons to maintain peace and order.

The witness revealed that whilst at Jeshwang Prison, he was placed in an isolated cell marked X and his hands were tied behind his back and the only time his hands are untied was only when he wants to eat.

The witness said he spent five years at Jeshwang Prison and then taken to Mile 2 Prison where he finished his jail term and released in 2003.

Mafugi Sonko told the Commission that after his release, he went to Fajara Barrack and was referred to Yundum Barracks where he met RSM Sanyang who he spoke in Jola but he referred him to Fajara Barrack.

The witness disclosed that after he got tired of being tossed around with so much twists and turns from Fajara and Yundum Barrack, he just took off his military uniforms and shoes and threw them at Yundum Barrack and left.

He said he was employed in Atlas Petrol Station Company where he has been working till date.

The witness told the Commission that he was never served with any dismissal letter from The Gambia National Army.

In his message to the Gambian people, the witness disclosed that his incarceration had tremendous impact on his family.

He said Lt. Binette Minteh and Sgt Samba Batch Jallow were the very cause of his trouble.

He explained that Lt. Minteh knew that he was taking his off when he sent him to take Lt. Basirou Barrow, Lt. L.F. Jammeh and others to Yundum Barrack from Fajara Barrack, and there were other drivers that were on duty.

He also explained that Staff Sgt. Samba Batch Jallow was told by Lt. Peter Singhateh that he was not among those involved in the 11th November, 1994 coup, but Batch Samba had continued to put him among the soldiers.

He told the Commission that he has forgiven all those wronged him, beat him and stated that whatsoever happened has happened and he called all and sundry see each other as one people.

Author: Bruce Asemota