ASP Jeng blames all sectors as enablers of 22-year dictatorship

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

ASP Abubacar Suleiman Jeng, the 5th witness in the ongoing sittings of the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission has blamed all sectors of the society as enablers of the 22 years dictatorial regime of Yahya Jammeh.

Jeng disclosed that if Gambians want to build the country, they must have to change their attitudes.

The witness who is presently the deputy security adviser at the United Nations Department of Safety and Security Isreal, Occupied Palestinian Territory and Jerusalem said this yesterday whilst testifying before the Commission.

“Jammeh divided many families, he was responsible for breaking marriages” he said, noting that the people were guilty by being complicit in entrenching his government as a result of their selfish tendencies.

He blamed the security sectors as being very guilty of being an enabler.

Abubacarr Suleiman Jeng was born on the 3rd September 1963, attended his elementary schools in Kanifing, taught at Gambia High School and St Peter’s Secondary School, travelled outside the country for training, returned in 1993 and joined The Gambia Police Force, pursued training in FBI on lead investigations.

Jeng was the first batch to be recruited following the amalgamation of the Gendarmerie into The Gambia Police Force.

He outlined the different units within the Police structure in 1993 and 1994, and pointed out that there was resentment from the old guard of the Police as to how the elements, which came from the Tactical Support Group (TSG) were received.

The witness told the Commission how the mandate of the Police and the TSG was the same, but differs in terms of policy, noting that the TSG was the arm wing of the Police as responding to civil unrest was amongst their responsibilities.

He said Chief SP Turo Jawneh was the head of the TSG and supported by Amadou Suwareh, noting that TSG was generally under the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ebrima I. Chongan and the Police under the Ministry of the Interior.

He told the Commission the perception of the people about the police and the challenges faced, citing the lack of resources; few police stations; vehicles; uniforms for the police; gaps of adequate resources and training for the police amongst others.

July 22nd 1994 coup d’etat

The witness disclosed that prior to the 22nd July 1994, there was rumours at the Banjul International Airport about coup d,etat, citing the incident at the airport.

Jeng pointed out that at the time the NSS had more role to play than the police and that in the early morning of July 22nd 1994, he left for work like any other normal day and they had their normal briefing at the parade and thereafter they dispatched.

Jeng further pointed out that some moments later they were assembled again at the parade ground, where the then Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ebrima Chongan informed them that they were marching towards Banjul and he stressed the need for the fortification of the Police Headquarters.

He said efforts were made to secure arms from the Banjul Barracks and there were tactical and key deployments in and around the Police Headquarters.

He disclosed that news were trickling in as they were progressively moving towards Banjul, the collapse of Fajara Barracks, the stand-off at Denton Bridge, the crossing of Denton Bridge and the subsequent capture of the State House.

He told the Commission the arrival of 2nd Lt. Sana Sabally, 2nd Lt. Sadibou Hydara and Captain Momodou Sonko at the Police Headquarters, the discussion between the then AIG Chongan and Sonko and the behaviour of Sana Sabally.

He also told the Commission how some senior police officers were assembled at the façade of Standard Chartered Bank, the humiliation, dejection and shame they suffered.

The witness told the Commission his departure to the Fajara Barracks in the company of ASP Bajinka where he observed movements of soldiers and ammunitions.

ASP Jeng disclosed that he departed from Fajara Barracks on board a vehicle with SP Suwareh, ASP Bajinka, Jarju and Jammeh got home and met his father whom he had a chat with, thereafter returned to Fajara met Bajinka.

He narrated his ordeal with some senior police officers who encouraged them to join them to go to the State House to find out what was going on.

First meeting at the State House with the Juntas

ASP Jeng told the Commission that they found the juntas at the court yard at the State House seated and having discussion when they arrived, but they were relegated as their presence wasn’t recognised by the Juntas at first until Chief SP Mbye told them that they were there to consult with them on the issue of policing arrangement in the country especially in Banjul.

He stated that at the time, the then IGP, Pa Sallah Jagne was not around as he had boarded the ship that took EX-president Jawara.

He revealed that Jammeh made some pronouncements appointment of interim leadership in the Police, citing the appointment of Sherrif Mbye as the interim IGP and his suggestion to the juntas the need for communication to the citizenry.

The witness further revealed that after the suggestion and as his team was about to leave, the juntas asked him to stay and he had conversation with Edward Sighateh at about 9:00 p.m. when Sighateh enquires about his educational background and birth place amongst others.

The witness told the Commission how he (Sighateh) issued him a military uniform and his subsequent appointment as the secretary to the juntas.

ASP Jeng disclosed that Sighateh was more affiliated with Jammeh as Sadibou Hydara to Sana Sabally.

ASP Jeng said he spent Saturday night at the State House and on Sunday he was given the studio of Ex-president Jawara to use as an office.

The witness disclosed that Captain Sam Gibba and 2nd Lt. Yankuba Touray crossed over from Farafenni to the State House, but they were told to go back to their duty stations by Yahya Jammeh. He said that as a result of personal intervention of Edward Sighateh, Yakuba Touray was asked to remain.

Appointment as secretary and commencement of duty

ASP Jeng told the Commission that he assumed office as secretary and the scope of work entails covering the meetings of the juntas with the diplomatic mission representatives, citing the US Embassy, UK, Sierra Leone and Nigeria amongst others.

He stated that the meetings were aimed at painting the Jawara regime as very corrupt and perpetuating their dynasty.

ASP Jeng further stated the unpreparedness of the juntas at the time, noting that July 22nd was a fluke as the leadership was not structured.

He noted that one cannot stage a coup without having a statement, adding that the leadership at the bridge was not honourable and shrewd enough and their discussion was poorly organised.

The witness disclosed that whilst still the secretary to the juntas, some civilians were identified as council members and ASP Suwareh emanated for a cabinet position but it was brushed aside and he was replaced by Yankuba Touray.

He named other nominees as Halifa Sallah, Sam Sarr, Mbemba Tambadou, Aminata Sonko, Santa Jaw and Samba Bah, but the feedback from both Halifa Sallah and Sam Sarr was that they cannot be associated with position in juntas government as a result they rejected the offer.

The witness told the Commission how he returned home on Tuesday and upon his return on Wednesday, he had encounter with Sighateh, his encounter with Sanna Sabally and followed by a subsequent arrest and his journey to his house.

ASP Jeng further told the Commission his encounter with the soldiers who escorted him to his house, the accusation that the Wollof boys were planning to stage a coup, the pandemonium it caused to his family and his neighbourhood when they arrived at his home, the warning that he should not do anything stupid if he tries to escape he would be gunned down.

He further told the Commission how he was finally escorted to Mile 2 Prisons and his arrival at the security wing, ushered into the cell and then meeting Mamat Cham, Sam Sarr, Chongan in the prisons when it dawned on him about the allegation of the Wollof boys staging a coup.

ASP Abubacarr Jeng disclosed that he spent 18 months at the security wing in Mile 2 Prison, he mentioned the conditions of the cell as very desolate, sad and pathetic, rats infested and aggressive, the food as not being fit for animals consumption not to talk of human beings, the planks used as bed, the chamber pots used as toilets, no pillows.

He testified that he was confined for six to eight weeks in a cell, incommunicado, no showers and the eventual visit of Bishop Micheal Claery brought a change to their lives.

ASP Jeng told the Commission the visit of the juntas except Yahya Jammeh to the detainees on the 6th September 1994 and the beatings, torture and mob execution carried out citing the assumption that Mamat Cham, RSM Jeng and Chongan were dead.

ASP Abubacarr Jeng narrated how Sana Sabally and Sadibou Hydara were brought in by Edward Sighateh and Alagie Martins and subjected them to intermittent torture, severe pains and beatings and the insinuations that Sadibou Hydara died as a result of torture especially using the electric shock machine.

He appealed to all Gambians to adopt a new slogan called ‘the Gambia first’.

The witness urged Gambians to do the right thing and work for the country instead of working for themselves and family.

He stressed the need for Gambians to work and build a prosperous country that can be bequeathed to their children, adding that all should put the country first.

He pointed out that there is a lot of indiscipline and corruption as rearing its ugly head again in the country, noting that civil servants should endearvour to be apolitical.

He condemned tribalism and advised that people take a cue from Rwanda whilst appealing to all Gambians to make a reflection and asked themselves what they can do to change the country.

Hearing continues today.

Author: Bruce Asemote