Former CMC Pa Mbye makes maiden appearance at TRRC

Friday, April 12, 2019

Pa Habibu Mbye, Crime Management Coordinator in the erstwhile Sir Dawda K. Jawara’s government yesterday appeared before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise to shed light on some pertinent issues relating to the role he played in the July 22nd 1994 take over and the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, Finance minister who died in a mysterious circumstance in June, 1995.

The witness disclosed that he was born on the 30th of August 1947 in Banjul and worked at the Special Branch of The Gambia Police Force and ultimately became the Crime Management Coordinator before the 22nd July 1994 military take over.

The witness recalled that on the 22nd of July, 1994, he left home around 7:00 a.m. for work and arrived at about 7:30 a.m., and whilst he was in his office, he saw the then AIG, Ebrima Chongan and some senior police officers gathered at the Police Headquarters.

He said the officers were being briefed about the movement of soldiers at Yundum Barrack moving towards Banjul. He revealed that initially he had considered the movement as part of the military exercise, but thought it was wise for him and Chongan to go to Denton Bridge to ascertain what was going on.

Pa Mbye further revealed that he left with Chongan for Denton Bridge and whilst they were around the Banjul side of the Bridge, they saw Samsideen Sarr walking behind them but Chongan asked Sarr to go back but pleaded that they at the defence were also in a dilemma and Chongan accepted and he  allowed him to follow them.

The witness said that at the Serrekunda side of the bridge, they saw Captain Suwareh who they impressed upon not to allow the soldiers to cross the bridge and he promised them that he would not allow the soldiers to cross come rain or shine.

The witness also said he observed that the weapons that were carried by the soldiers were very sophisticated and he left for the Police Headquarters and thereafter for his house. Ex-CMC Mbye stated that the following morning, 23rd July, 1994, he returned to work but found soldiers had occupied the Police Headquarters building and he decided to go to State House.

He further stated that at the State House, he met Yahya Jammeh, Edward Singhateh, Samsideen Sarr, Abou Jeng, Babucarr Jatta, Modou Badjie and Amadou Suawareh amongst others, sitting on a bench and it was there and then that Samsideen Sarr introduced Yahya Jammeh, Edward Singhateh that they have taken over government.

The witness told the Commission his ordeal with one Modou Njie who came to the Police Headquarters after the then IGP, Pa Sallah Jagne was arrested and the said Modou Njie introduced himself as the new IGP and he requested for the keys to the office of the then IGP, but he refused to give him the keys to the office of the IGP.

Pa Mbye asserted that after the July 22nd take over, a special investigation Unit was established with Foday Barry and Lamin Babadingding Jobarteh heading the said branch housed in the Police Headquarters.

He told the Commission that there was a particular day when Pa Sallah Jagne and Kebba Ceesay, then director general of NSS were brought and were made to sit down on the floor inside the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which he considered disgraceful and insults.

He further told the Commission that Foday Barry and Lamin Jobarteh were very powerful as they were engaged in activities more powerful than the CMC itself.

He revealed that after the July 22nd , he was assigned to search Omar Jallow alias O.J., former Agriculture minister in the Jawara government but he refused and the council was not happy with him and so he was assigned to search M.C. Cham’s residence but only conducted a search in his living room.

The witness told the Commission that he was transferred to Mansakonko but after three months, he was recalled to the Police Headquarters.

Mr. Mbye revealed that sometime in June 1995, there were rumours that the Finance Minister, Ousman Koro Ceesay would be presenting the budget and that there were indications that there were some discrepancies and financial irregularities in the budget that he wanted to disclose which the council members were opposed to.

Mr. Mbye asserted that on the particular night that Koro Ceesay was killed, he received a call from one of his informant; Cham Kassarina that he had seen a black Mercedes Benz car believed to be a minister’s car being followed by a land rover allocated to Edward Singhateh going towards Jambur in the night.

The witness further asserted that the following morning whilst at work, he was informed about Koro Ceesay’s death and his mind went to the conversation he had with Cham Kassarina.

He told the Commission that he proceeded to the Morgue where he found Lt. Peter Singhateh who had his hand bandaged and as Peter looked at him, he deliberately said this must be a foul play.

The witness disclosed that his statement manifested in Peter Singhateh’s body language and he observed that he wasn’t happy with what he has said.

The witness further disclosed that he was never given any instruction by the authority to investigate the death of Koro Ceesay but he took it upon himself as the CMC to investigate it.

He said he visited the crime scene and he observed that the car number plate was detached until when he heard from Mohammed L.K. Bojang that he was the very person that removed the late Finance minister official vehicle number plate.

He said Koro Ceesay’s death was a frame up and not an accident as there was no dent on the vehicle and that after putting up all the deductions, he inferred that Ousman Koro Ceesay was brutally murdered.

He disclosed that he began his investigations and went to the airport where he was told that Yankuba Touray’s vehicle was in front of Koro Ceesay’s vehicle and then blocked behind by Edward Singhateh’s vehicle; so after seeing Yahya Jammeh off, Ousman Ceesay couldn’t leave voluntarily and immediately without Yankuba Touray and Edward Singateh giving him access.

The witness told the Commission that he was called by the then IGP, Gibril Joof who asked him about the situation report on his investigation but he was reluctant to disclose his findings.

He further told the Commission that the then IGP informed him that Yankuba Touray had requested to see him in his office and he went but upon arrival at Yankuba Touray’s office, he met him sitting, looked at him and he observed that there is this message of disagreement and he knew and he prepared that it was time for him to quit his job.

He said when he returned to his office he parked all his personal belongings and prepared his hand over note and went home.

He revealed that when he reported to work the following morning he was called by the IGP who informed him that his services was terminated and was no longer needed in the Gambia Police Force.

Hearing continues on Monday, 15th of April, 2019.

Author: Bruce Asemota