Kaba Bajo, retired captain, commander of Presidential Guard during erstwhile
President Jawara government, commissioner, West Coast Region, minister of the
Interior and ambassador during Yahya Jammeh’s government yesterday appeared
before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), chaired by
Dr Lamin J. Sise to shed light on several issues from the day of the military
takeover to the period he was serving as the minister of the Interior.
Lead Counsel Essa Faal informed Kaba Bajo about a publication made by Captain Ebou Jallow in 1999 wherein Ebou Jallow said he was present with Kaba Bajo in a meeting with Yahya Jammeh and they advised Jammeh to dissociate himself (Jammeh) from Koro Ceesay’s death.
However, Kaba Bajo, denied claim that he was present with Ebou Jallow at the said meeting; and he further denied claims that he received one hundred thousand dollars from Yahya Jammeh at the State House as gift from the five million dollars Ebou Jallow brought.
Lead Counsel Essa Mbaye Faal took out the statement of Captain Ebou Jallow in which he stated that he brought five million dollars and Edward Singateh, Yakuba Touray, Kaba Bajo and himself Ebou Jallow were each given one hundred thousand dollars by Yahya Jammeh and he was dancing when he received the five million dollars.
Lamin Kaba Bajo told the Commission that his loyalty to Yahya Jammeh was as a friend but not because of position and that Yahya Jammeh was a visionary leader but not as a criminal.
Lead Counsel Essa M. Faal put to Lamin Kabba Bajo that he simply did not want to offend Yahya Jammeh because of the favours that Yahya Jammeh had done for him in the past.
He stated that Lamin Kaba Bajo attended his first foreign training whilst he was in the Gendarmerie at the behest of Yahya Jammeh.
Lawyer Faal said Lamin Kaba Bajo wouldn’t complain when it comes to Yahya Jammeh and would do whatever Yahya Jammeh wanted him to do so as to keep his job.
Lawyer Faal further said when Lamin Kaba Bajo went with Ex-President Jawara to Dakar and when he returned he was welcomed by Jammeh and never sent him to jail; like he did to other senior military officers,.
Lamin Kaba Bajo was appointed as Commissioner and then minister of the Interior and then ambassador and would never have investigated Yahya Jammeh because Yahya Jammeh gave him favours.
Lawyer Faal noted that he was only interested in protecting his job and as a result his jurisdiction and responsibility was usurped by other institutions.
Lawyer Faal cited the arrest and detention of PPP supporters, the attack of UDP supporters by APRC supporters when two UDP supporters were killed and he did nothing about it because it involves Yahya Jammeh.
Kaba Bajo who was born on the 10th November, 1964, attended Brikama Primary School and Muslim High School and then joined The Gambia Gendarmerie in 1984, had recruit training, had officers cadet course training, posted to the State House in 1990 and became the commander of the Presidential Guard in 1994 where he used to travel with the then President Jawara.
He stated that prior to the 22nd July 1994, he travelled with the then President to Tunisia to attend the OAU Summit and then to the United Kingdom for holiday.
He further stated that it was whilst they were in U.K. that he was informed about the coup, adding that he did not thought it important to inform the then president as there were frequent rumours of coup plot in the country.
He said upon arrival he was informed by Lang Tombong Tamba that some officers were disarmed at the airport and Yahya Jammeh was mentioned as one of the officers disarmed.
He revealed that on the 22nd July, 1994 whilst he was at the State House, he received information that there was a movement of soldiers at Yundum Barracks and they are moving towards Banjul.
He further revealed that he made some efforts to reinforce the security at the State House and as the commander, he was coordinating the security.
He said as he was coordinating the security arrangement, he was informed that President Jawara had been moved to the ship and he (Bajo) decided to go and see them.
He noted that whilst there, he was monitoring the situation and communicating with the commander of the TSG, Turo Jawneh.
He recalled that President Jawara asked Pa Sallah Jagne, then IGP to go and take care of the situation but later he went and returned and the ship left and he reluctantly went with President Jawara.
The witness told the Commission that he returned from Dakar on the 30th of July, 1994, adding that efforts were being made to get Jawara back to the country as head of state but proved futile, citing the arrangement of the Nigerian foreign minister at the time.
He explained that the option of using military intervention was frustrated when the Senegalese refused the use of their air and land space.
He stated that Pa Sallah Jagne returned to The Gambia much earlier than him, but when he returned, he was received by Yahya Jammeh and appointed as Commissioner of Western Division now West Coast Region.
Kaba Bajo said whilst serving as commissioner, said he heard about the 11th November 1994 and was told about the activities at Fajara Barracks and the news broadcast on Radio Gambia when Sana Sabally announced that there was a coup and that some soldiers lost their lives during skirmishes.
Lamin Kaba Bajo told the Commission that Lt. Sadibou Hydara and Sana Sabally were arrested in January 1995 and few days later, he was invited to the State House where he met Yahya Jammeh, then chairman of the AFPRC who gave a brown coloured envelope and in the letter was his appointment as the minister of the Interior and a member of the AFPRC.
Kaba Bajo recalled he travelled with Yahya Jammeh on the 23rd June 1995 to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the OAU summit, and whilst there, Yahya Jammeh summoned his entourage and informed them of the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, the then Finance minister and Jammeh looked somber.
At this point, lead Counsel Essa M. Faal asked Kaba Bajo whether he was aware of Yahya Jammeh’s conversation with Lt. Edward Singateh at the foot of the aircraft, Kaba Bajo replied in the negative.
Asked if he was aware that Captain Ebou Jallow, then spokesperson of the AFPRC was negotiating a loan deal with the Eximm Bank in Taiwan, he replied in the negative but said Captain Ebou Jallow joined their flight in Switzerland to The Gambia.The witness disclosed that he gave instructions to the then IGP, Gibril Joof to investigate the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay, but Counsel Essa Faal informed Kaba Bajo that Pa Mbaye, then CMC was fired because his involvement in the investigations into Koro Ceesay death.