I was Appointed Ambassador To Taiwan - Lang Tombong Tells Court

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lt. Gen Lang Tombong Tamba on Monday 24th May 2010 continuing his testimony before Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the high court in Banjul told the court that following his removal as CDS he was appointed as Gambia's Ambassador to China on Taiwan.

He adduced that he received a call from the then Secretary General Office of the President, Abdoulie Sallah, inviting him to his office at State House, who informed him that the President had appointed him as "The Gambia's Ambassador to China on Taiwan."

Ex CDS Tamba told the court that between January 2009 and September 2009, he received telephone calls from the 2nd accused, Bri.Gen Omar Bun Mbye, 3rd accused, Lt. Col Bo Badjie, 5th accused, Modou Gaye, 7th accused, Abdoulie Joof and 8th accused, Yusuf Ezziden to sympathise with him on the death of his brother in-law, daughter, mother in-law and his father.

He said in the period, "I received telephone calls from the same people congratulating me on my promotion to the rank of Lt. Gen of GAF." 

These people, he added, also called him to congratulate him, as the 1st Vice President of GFA, on the tremendous achievements of the under-17 national football team, when they became champions of Africa, as well as the great performance of the Gambia senior national team.

"They also congratulated me on my election as the GNOC president, as well as the achievement of the GAF football team when they were crowned as league champions in 2009 GFA first division league," Tamba further told the court.

"The accused persons were among the well-wishers who called to sypamthise and congratulate me," he stated.

He was asked by his defence counsel, SM Tambedou, how the 7th accused helped to clear his vehicle from the ports. Lang Tombong Tamba said that the 7th accused assisted him by doing all the paper work for the vehicle, after which he presented to him an assessment from the customs on duty to be paid for the said vehicle.

"I then gave him the money to pay the duty for the car, as well as paid him for the service he rendered in processing the documents, which was part of the 7th accused person's work as a clearing agent," he adduced.

"I was out of the country in Denmark, to attend International Olympic Congress, being the president of GNOC, and I returned on the 8th October 2009," he added. "As I reported to work on Friday 9th October, 2009 I received a letter signed for the Secretary General Office of the President indicating my removal as CDS GAF, and my dismissal from GAF," Tamba told a crowded court room.

"The same letter also directed that I should hand over to the deputy CDS, Bri.Gen Yankuba Drammeh, in the absence of the CDS who was yet to return home from his overseas course," he testified.

"This letter was served to me in the office of the Secretary General at State House," Tamba stated. After reading the letter, he added, "I was led to my office by the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie, the present Director General of the NIA, Numo Kujabi, and the present Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, Harry Sambou. After being relieved as CDS, he continued, "I received a call from the Secretary General Office of the President, Abdoulie Sallah, inviting me to his office at State House." "While in the Secretary General's Office, he informed me that the President had appointed me as The Gambia's Ambassador to China on Taiwan, and that I would be duly informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs duly informed me," he revealed.

This, he added, happened weeks after his removal as CDS. "When I was relieved from office as CDS, I got an invitation from State House, from the Chief of Protocol, Mr. Alhagie Ceesay, inviting me to attend a decoration ceremony by the Rotary Club International held at the Cabinet room of State House."

"I was among other deserving personalities who were decorated by HE the President and commander in-chief of GAF," he further testified.

"I shook hands and took photos with the President," he added. He told the court that during this period, when he was relieved from office, he was among other dignitaries at Banjul International Airport to see off the President during one of his travels to Qatar, and he had the same privilege to shake hands with the President.

"When an officer is relieved of his responsibility from GAF, the senior most person or officer in charge directs that the relieved officer be de-kited immediately," he also informed the court.

"When such orders are passed by the most senior officer, the de-kiting team is immediately dispatched to the residence of the relieved officer for the de-kiting exercise," he added.

"I was not de-kited immediately following my relief as CDS," Lang Tombong told the court. "I was de-kited on 3rd November 2009," he added. Following my relief as CDS, I had in my possession arms and ammunition, as well as uniforms and other military gadgets given to me while I was in active service. Following my relief, and the failure of the de-kiting team to have me de-kited immediately, I  made several telephone calls to the deputy CDS Major General Yunkuba Drammeh, who was the acting CDS at the time, but could not reach him.

"I tried to call him to inform that he should send a de-kiting team to de-kit me immediately, as I was no longer in active service, and I did not want to keep in possession those arms and ammunition and other gadgets," he revealed.

"I made another telephone call to my former military assistant, so that he could pass the message to Brig. Yankuba Drammeh to send a team to my residence "It was until the 3rd November 2009, when the de-kit team visited me in my residence in Kololi, and the de-kiting exercise was carried out on the same day.

He identified the de-kit report in court, when it was showed to him by his defence counsel SM Tambedou, dated the 3rd November 2009.

"I signed the de-kit report," he added. Asked by his defence counsel, SM Tambedou, whether the de-kit report was correct, he replied in the affirmative.

After the de-kiting exercise was completed, the de-kit team left my residence with items de-kited, but before they left, I did mention to the team that as a former CDS and a superior officer, I should retain my ceremonial uniform.

"The officer in charge of the de-kiting team at the time step out of my compound to make a telephone call, but I could not confirmed to whom he was speaking to," he told the court. Upon his return to the compound, he added, the officer in charge told me that I was cleared for my ceremonial uniform.

"I was asked for my military ID card, as well as my diplomatic passport," he stated. "I replied that I have been appointed as the Gambain Ambassador to Taiwan, and that I needed to maintain that passport. I said I have misplaced the military ID card, and that once the military ID was found along with any military belongings, I will surrender them to the defence headquarters". 

"The de-kiting team left my residence, but there was no de-kit exercise conducted in his Bijilo residence," Lang Tombong told the court.

"On 20th November 2009, on my way, in my car, to watch a football final at Serekunda East mini-statuim, I received a telephone call from my former military assistant, Lt. Col Alhagie Sanneh. He said that the orderly to the CDS had packed all the items in my former office, when I was the CDS, to be dropped at my house, so that I can take what belongs to me, and return what belongs to the office."

"I told him to dropped this carton at my residence in Bijilo so that from the football I will open the carton to take what belongs to me and sent back what belongs to the office," he added.

"I could not open this box, the very day it was dropped in my house on 20th November 2009 because that was the very day I was arrested upon returning from the football match," he testified.

"On the 20th of November 2009, while I was watching the football match finals at the Serakunda East football field on or about 6pm, I received a telephone call from my second wife that armed soldiers with plain clothes officers have come to ask for me, as they have been sent by the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie, to arrest me, with two pickup vehicles, at my Kololi residence" Lang Tombong told a crowded courtroom.

"As I terminated the call with my second wife, I received another telephone call from my first wife that two pickup vehicles with armed soldiers and plain-clothes officers were at my residence in Bijilo, and that they were sent by the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie, to come and have me arrested. I told my wife on the phone that I am on my way coming. My second wife sound worried, and said to me that "how I see those armed men, you will be arrested."

"I said to her over the phone again that, as far as am concerned, I have not done anything wrong in this country, that would warrant me to flee, and that my conscience is clear, especially at this time when I was appointed as the Gambia's ambassador to Taiwan. I further told her that I am coming, and she supported my decision," he further stated.       

"Then I called back my second wife who lives in Kololi, and told her that I am on my way coming to the house, and she too sounded worried over the phone. I said to her that I have done nothing wrong in this country. I have served my country to the best of my ability when I was CDS, and I have no cause to flee this country when my conscience is clear. She also supported my decision"  Lt Gen.Tamba further told the court where he stood in the witness box for three hours.

"I then moved out of the stadium to pick my car, but I observed that cars of other spectators had blocked the way, and I left the keys with a friend and asked him that once the others vehicles moved, he can send me the car back home."

He continued: "I hired a taxi back home to Bijilo, for the simple reason that I know I have served my country to the best of my ability, and I also knew that I have not done any dubious act, and my conscience was clear; that I have demonstrated my total loyalty to the President and commander-in-chief of GAF and his government when I was the CDS and when I was removed as Chief of Defence Staff."

Lang said if he had done any dubious act, he would have fled the country as "I had all the opportunity to do so", adding that, "the distance between my residence to where I watched football match is 8 km. I could have fled without any notice."

"Upon arrival at my Bijilo residence, I found two plain clothes officers. I told them that I was informed that you came to arrest me and they responded that they came to arrest me, and I entered my house, sat with my family, waiting for the arrival of the rest of the team. Some minutes later the team arrived, and I was arrested and taken to NIA headquarters," he narrated.

He said, "upon arrival at the NIA headquarters, I was led to the waiting room of the Director General of NIA where I met the Director General of NIA sitting with the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie. I was offered a chair and I sat, and waited for two hours without being told anything."

"It was until around 2am when I was led to the conference room at the NIA headquarters to face a panel. I was told by the panel that I was engaged in a coup plot against the President and the commander-in-chief of GAF. I told the panel that this was news to me, as this was my first time to hear the allegation against me. I further told them that it was not true that I was engaged in a coup plot against the President. I also told the panel that I was not a disgruntled soldier when I was in active service, and that I have demonstrated my unflinching support and loyalty to the President and commander-in-chief", the ex-CDS explained.

"When the panel knew that I was bitter about the allegation of a coup plot, then the former IGP Ensa Badjie said to me that this was the information they received, and that they are carrying out an investigation into that. The ex-IGP further told me that they were informed of my involvement by one Ebrima Bojang," he told the court.

"Ex-IGP Badjie said to me before the panel that when Ebrima Bojang was arrested in Farafenni, he mentioned his name (Ensa Badjie) as being part of those who sent him (Ebrima Bojang) to Farafenni for purpose of a coup against the president. The former IGP Ensa Badjie told him that when he arrived at the NIA and Ebrima Bojang mentioned his name, he beat him with punches until he (Ensa Badjie) suffered a fracture on his right thumb," ex-CDS Tamba further told the court.

"He (Ex-IGP) told me that I wish I was the CDS so that I beat Ebrima Bojang so that he (Ebrima Bojang) can mention other names," he added.

Tamba adduced that when Ensa Badjie concluded his statement, the former deputy CDS, Yankuba Drammeh, also told him before the panel that he was just preparing for Friday prayers, and was arrested and taken to the NIA because Ebrima Bojang has mentioned his name as being part of those who sent him to Farafenni, for a coup plot, and that he (Drammeh) could not go back to his house.

"As Yankuba Drammeh concluded his statement, the present Director General of NIA, Numo Kujabi, told him before the panel that they were investigating his involvement in the coup plot, based on the information they received from Ebrima Bojang, and that I should exercise patience during the course of the investigation as he himself was among those named by Ebrima Bojang as those who sent him to Farefenni for the purpose of a coup plot," Lang Tombong added.

"At this point," Lang Tombong Tamba went on, "they brought Ebrima Bojang before the panel to confront with him. He said after the confrontation with Ebrima Bojang," I was asked to make a written statement. As I was making a cautionary statement, the panel realised that it was getting late, as it was around 4 am.

"I was then asked to suspend writing the statement, and I was taken to Mile 2 Central Prison, where I was eventually detained," he told the court.

"I later completed writing my statement," he added. He identified the statement as his statement in court. "I still stand by my statement," he told the court. "I also made a voluntary statement, I denied all the charges preferred against me, and I still stand by my statement," he further told a crowded courtroom.

"I saw Ebrima Bojang before the confrontation," he added. When Ebrima Bojang was before the panel he introduced himself as Ebrima Bojang, and I told the panel that I knew him as Ebrima Sanyang.

"Sometime in 2008 I closed from office, and I saw a young man waiting outside my compound under a mango tree, at my house in Kololi. I was told by my guards on duty that a young man wanted to see me by the name Ebrima Sanyang, and claimed that I am his uncle."

"I then asked the boy for his name, and he told me that he is a son to my sister, called Satou Tamba, who is married in Bwiam, Western Region. Then I asked him for his mission, and he said to me that he needed help from me to pay for his tuition fee at Quantum Institute, and the amount needed was D1500.  Based on humanitarian grounds, knowing that my sister Satou Tamba had a son called Ebrima Sanyang, I asked him to come back the following day, which he did," Tamba stated.

He said he didn't know his sister's son, and he had never met him because he has not been frequently visiting his sister at Bwiam. The case continues.
Author: Sainey M.K Maraneh
Source: Picture: Lang Tombong Tamba