Demba Njie, Sgt. Major at the State House during Sir D.K .Jawara’s government
and one time chief of Staff and Protocol in the erstwhile Yahya Jammeh’s
government has disclosed that late Ousman Koro Ceesay, then Finance minister in
Jammeh’s government was killed at Lt. Yankuba Touray residence before taken and
dumped at Njambur village near Brikama in West Coast Region.
Lt. D. Njie made this revelation yesterday during the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission’s sitting chaired by Adelaide Sosseh.
The witness said Ousman Ceesay was a class junior to him at Gambia High School and he personally linked Yahya Jammeh to Koro Ceesay as someone who would be useful to him in 1995.
He further said that Koro Ceesay was first appointed as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and later appointed as minister of Finance.
He stated that Yahya Jammeh held Ousman Koro Ceesay in high esteem after he (Jammeh) realised the potentials of Ousman K. Ceesay.
The witness explained that that there was jealousy against Ousman Koro Ceesay, adding that Edward Sighateh was jealous of how Koro Ceesay was increasingly getting closer to Yahya Jammeh.
He disclosed that Edward Sighateh didn’t want anybody to get between him and Jammeh.
He explained that he was in Addis Ababa with Jammeh in Africa Summit in 1996 when he got the information from Lt. Lang Tombong Tamba who was the commander of State Guard that Ousman Koro Ceesay died and that there was a foul play.
Lt. D. Njie said before they came back to The Gambia, Jammeh never talked about Ousman K. Ceesay and he did observed that before Jammeh boarded the aircraft for Addis ababa, Jammeh stood at the foot of the aircraft and spoke to Edward Sighateh and after he went up and spoke again to Edward Sighateh.
The witness disclosed that immediately the aircraft took off, Koro Ceesay was asked to join the vehicle of Edward Sighateh and they drove to Yankuba Touray’s residence where he was killed and then taken to a bridge around Njambur village.
He said Peter Sighateh sustained a burn in his hand when they were trying to set Ousman Koro Ceesay’s official vehicle on fire.
The witness who enlisted into the Gendarmerie in 1996 had training within and outside The Gambia said in 1992 during the PPP congress’s in Mansakonko, ex-president D.K. Jawara announced that he was going to step down and as a result of Jawara’s decision to step aside, it evokes rumour.
He revealed that there was rumours of coup-d’-etat and there were suspicion that his vehicle would be ambushed and as a result he spent the night at Mansakonko.
He told the Commission that he had accident in May, 1992 at Sting Corner with five school children on board his vehicle but returned to service in 1993.
The witness disclosed that he was part of Sir D.K. Jawara’s entourage at the Meet the People’s Tour in 1993.
He explained the controversy and the circumstances surrounding the suicide of a soldier called Boy Pulo whom they suspected was employed by Yahya Jammeh to assassinate Sir D.K. Jawara.
The witness disclosed that he had travelled with Sir D.K. Jawara to the U.K. and Tunisia for the African Union Summit and on the 21st July, 1994, they arrived around 5:00 p.m. and during the reception ceremony at the airport, he went to his vehicle and proceeded to State House.
The witness further disclosed that at the airport, he didn’t observe anything abnormal but did meet Yahya Jammeh who he spoke, saying ‘you Jola boy, you are always ugly whilst Jammeh replied that he looked sick’.
Lt. D. Njie said at about 8:00 a.m. on the 22nd July, 1994, he received information from Lang Tombong Tamba that there were movement of soldiers and later he learnt that Sir D.K. Jawara had been escorted to the Frigate at the Banjul port.
The witness told the Commission that when he later spoke to Lang Tombong, he was informed that everything was ready now and that he has been moved to Fajara Barracks as commander.
The witness further told the Commission that the manner the State House was taken was very cheap, adding that the State House gave up for very easily to the enemy forces without putting up resistance in the name of: “we are all Gambians.”
He pointed out that Yahya Jammeh has an insider at the State House at the time who he suspected to be Musa Jammeh called Malian Mungo.
The witness averred that after the coup, he returned home but reported to State House on Wednesday, and whilst standing in front of the guardroom the council members came and met.
The witness revealed that Yahya Jammeh was his relative and they had joking relations whenever they see one another.
He told the Commission that Yahya Jammeh is a trouble maker; that he exhibit indiscipline altitude towards his superiors.
The witness told the Commission how Jammeh attacked Bakau Police Station, beating the then station officer and some police officers on duty and Jammeh altercation with somebody in Basse when Jammeh knocked the person on his face.
The witness said he worked with Jammeh as the chief of staff at the State House and he was often close to him.
He recalled that on the November 10th, 1994, he was at the State House when he heard from some other junta members that they went to a meeting at Yundum Barrack and the soldiers were discouraged from staging a coup-d’-etat.
He revealed that he first heard about the November 11th supposedly coup around midnight when his sister informed him about gun shots she heard around Bakau.
The witness further revealed that he later received a call from Kalipha Bajinka that there was fighting at Fajara Barrack.
He said when he got to the State House in the early hours of November 11th, he saw Jammeh walking back and front and saying ‘leave me, let me go and fight’.
The witness disclosed that he also heard Yahya Jammeh in telephone conversation with the other members of the juntas, saying ‘kill them all the ring leaders.’
The witness disclosed that he was sitting very close to Yahya Jammeh when he said “Kill them all the ring leaders.”
Lt. D. Njie told the Commission that he later saw the other council members came to State House in a jubilant mood.
The witness informed the Commission that he heard Lt. Sana Sabally’s announcement about November 11th and that they have defeated the enemy forces.
The witness told the Commission that the council at the beginning was very united but as time went on he started seeing changes.
He said in 1995, he was the chief of Staff at the State House and was also overseeing the State Guard commander.
The witness told the Commission that there was a particular day around 15:00 hours when he was called by Yahya Jammeh and he met Lt. Edward Sighateh sitting facing him (Jammeh).
He disclosed that Jammeh instructed him that he should not allow any council member into the State House anytime after 6:00 p.m., and any members who disobey that order should be shot.
He further disclosed that he modified the instruction and told the council members that if they come to state house after 6:00 p.m. they would not be allowed to see Jammeh and he gave instruction to the guards.
He told the Commission that on a particular day he was with Jammeh and Edward Sighateh and he heard Sighateh said: “why can’t we do it now” and Jammeh replied, saying “wait till after the christening ceremony.”
The witness disclosed that thereafter Jammeh pointed at a ram and asked him to take the ram and take it to Sana Sabally, which he took to him later.
Lt. D. Njie explained that Edward Sighateh was over ambitious and always wanted to supersede others.
He revealed that whilst he was preparing to travel to Guinea-Bissau, he received a call from Kalipha Bajinka informing him that Lt. Sana Sabally and Lt. Sadibou Hydara were arrested.
He told the Commission that according to eyewitnesses the duo arrest, they were called one after the other to answer to Jammeh and they were ambushed and arrested.
He explained that their arrest was a set-up, adding that Jammeh lied to the country when he said that Sana and Sadibou pointed gun at him.
The witness said that there were torture sessions meted on the duo by Edward Sighateh and he suspected there was a foul play in Sadibou Hydara’s death.
Lt. D. Njie told the Commission how he was influenced to get his wife involved in the 2001 presidential election campaign which he protested against and his subsequent visit to Lt. Col. B. Jatta who after crying for about two minutes handed him a dismissal letter of discharge.
He also told the Commission how the allegations of campaigning for UDP and also planning a coup-d’-etat was being peddled about him.
Lt. D. Njie informed the Commission that he was out service for about 6-7 years but but later received information from Lang Tombong Tamba who was the CDS at the time that his services was needed and was appointed as Director of Logistics and thereafter he travelled to Liberia on a peace-keeping mission.
The witness told the Commission that from November 2009 to August 2017 his salary was ceased without being dismissed and he also lost his dear daughter.
Meanwhile, the witness cut short his testimony after he was informed that he was bereaved and had to go and attend a funeral.