Perpetrator confesses, apologises to O.J. for torture

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Captain Bubacar Bah of the Gambia National Army yesterday testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise and apologised for any wrong doing he committed against the Gambian people during the erstwhile Yahya Jammeh regime.

The witness begged for forgiveness and singled out Omar Jallow alias O.J., ex-minister of Agriculture in the Jawara government and his family and others he had unknowingly offended by his act.

He told the Commission that he offended the Gambian people while as a soldier, he was supposed to protect the people in the country.

He admitted he made mistakes and apologised to all and sundry, irrespective of being Gambian or non-Gambian.

He ascribed his hatred for O.J. and action towards him at the time, saying he was misguided and misled by Almamo Manneh.

He begged for amnesty and promised to uphold the mantra of never again despite the fact that he was also a victim of the regime he had worked for.

Captain Bah, weapon specialist who joined the Gendarmerie in 1991 told the Commission that he attended training courses within and outside the Gambia, where he specialises on munitions, explosives and mines.

He further told the Commission that he was on a training course in Turkey when the amalgamation took place and upon his return he discovered that some of his colleagues were absorbed into the army, others into the Police Force and others into the Tactical Support Group (TSG).

The witness disclosed that he was taking his showers on the 22nd July, 1994 when he saw some soldiers running helter scepter and when he inquired as to what was going on, he was told that some soldiers at Yundum Barracks were involved in mutiny.

The witness further disclosed that he had the premonition that the mutineers might attack Fajara Barracks and so he signed for his riffle and went to his office.

Captain Bah said he made efforts to contact some of his colleagues but to no avail as the lines went dead, but after some moments later he heard firing and gun shots outside, he came out and found some soldiers led by Sana Sabally and Sadibou Hydara carrying heavy weapons.

The witness explained that he saw one of his colleagues, Salieu Mbye firing at the soldiers who came with Sana Sabally, but as his bullets finished and he was given a nasty slap by Sana Sabally.

He said he was arrested together with some of his colleagues and they were used as human shield by the mutineers.

The witness disclosed that 11 November, 1994, was the schedule for the graduation date for officers who took part in a weapon training course which ended on the 10 November, 1994.

He said at about 11:00 p.m. on the 10 November, 1994, he observed that the barracks was quiet and one Sana Bayo informed him that some enemies were planning to attack the barrack.

He also said that at about 2:00 a.m., he heard some firing where he got involved in trying to defend the barrack, adding that there was sporadic shooting at the barrack till in the morning.

Captain Bah told the Commission that he later learnt that some soldiers were killed at Yundum barracks and others at Nyambai forest in Brikama, adding that Lt. Basirou Barrow, Gilbil Saye were among those executed.

The witness told the Commission that he became involved in the beating and torture of Omar Jallow alias O.J. former Agriculture minister in the Jawara government.

He said whilst the detainees were being led to the hangar where they were kept, Almamo Manneh called him and asked him if he knows some of the detainees.

He further said Almamo Manneh pointed at O.J. and alleged that people like O.J. is a problem to The Gambia, adding that O.J. was planning to bring foreign mercenaries to attack The Gambia.

The witness told the Commission that at this very period he was young and gullible and he joined in the beating and torture of O.J.

At this juncture, the witness told the Commission that he hit O.J. in his stomach and as he was bending down, he (the witness) started beating and kicking him.

“I was involved in the beating of O.J. for about three times but I regretted taking part in the beating of O.J. and I came to realised that the allegation leveled against him was not true,” he said

The witness disclosed that anytime he reads the newspaper and sees something about O.J., he feels very regretful and embarrassed.

Captain Bah told the Commission that he confessed to his brother that he offended O.J. but was working on modalities on apologising to him.

He disclosed that there were reasons why he was not able to apologised to O.J. and his family during Jammeh’s regime.

The witness revealed that in 2012, whilst he was the duty officer on a particular day at Fajara Barracks, some soldiers’ children picked a small ram and were playing with it but it unfortunately died.

He said the children continued playing with the dead ram and cut part of the mosquito bed net, wrapped the dead ram and buried it in the middle of the football field.

He explained that the ram started decomposing and as a result of the heavy down pour, dogs dug out the remains and sparked serious concern among the security chiefs and the State House.

He said Essa Badjie, the then IGP, the DG NIA at the time,Yankuba Drammeh and some senior officers from the State House came to Fajara Barracks and he was accosted and asked to explain the burying of the dead Ram saga.

Captain Bah disclosed that he was arrested together with some of his guards and taken to NIA headquarters where he was arraigned before an investigation panel.

The witness told the Commission that Ex-president Jammeh had threatened that he was going to set an example and that anyone found culpable would be dealt with.

The witness further disclosed that he was released after he was detained for four days at the NIA, adding that Lt. Col. S. Bayo and Lt. Col. B. Saine were dismissed from the Gambia National Army as a result of the buried ram.

Captain Bubacarr Bah told the Commission that the 2nd time he was arrested was during the political impasse in December 2016.

He revealed that prior to the December 4, 2016 presidential election they had meetings with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as to how the soldiers would participate in the voting process.

Captain Bah further revealed that after they learnt that the coalition had defeated the APRC, the incumbent, the tension among the soldiers was relaxed but the status quo changed and there was tension when Yahya Jammeh changed and announced that he was not going to accept the result.

The witness disclosed that they began building fighting positions in strategic places around Kanifing Municipality namely, the sting corner, Bakoteh police station roof top, GNPC petrol station at Abuko, Kairaba Police station amongst others but he had confided in some of close aide that he was not going to follow Yahya Jammeh but will respect the will of the Gambian people.

Captain Bah who said he was the operation officer at the time disclosed that he was always on patrol checking on the fighting positions.

He further said that General Saul Badjie was a very powerful man during Yahya Jammeh regime and was the one running shows during the political impasse period, adding that Saul Badjie takes instruction from Yahya Jammeh.

The witness narrated his meeting with General Saul Badjie around Bakoteh Dump Site after receiving a call from him and how he was given D10,000 to buy credit for his phone as a token gift so as to get him plant explosives in some targets.

Captain Bah told the Commission that his discussion with General Saul Badjie centered on the coalition, revenge and vengeance by the coalition, allegations of foreign troops preparing to launch attack on the Gambia, the ECOWAS, Senegal, the IEC, Diaspora Gambians amongst others.

He also told the Commission how General Saul Badjie paid an unannounced visit to Fajara Barracks, had meetings with some soldiers, related the same instructions to them except on the bombing of GNPC stations and gave money to them.

The witness told the Commission that whilst he was on a patrol to check the fighting position at GNPC station at Abuko, he received a call from Adjutant Lt. Yahaya Jammeh who asked him to go back to Fajara Barracks,.

He revealed that he returned and whilst on his way to answer to the Commander, Col. Essa Jesus, he met him on the way and saluted him first, noting that the manner the commander saluted him raised suspicion and he began wonder whether something was amiss.

He told the Commission that 14 senior officers had meeting with the Commander at the Commander’s office after they were all asked not to carry any weapon inside the meeting.

He narrated that whilst in the meeting he heard the sound of strange vehicles from the military police from state guard led by Lt. Nuha Williams who pushed the door opened and entered the Commander’s office and called the commander outside and had a tete-a-tete him, returned and called him to answer.

Captain Bah said as he left to answer and as he got outside, he was handcuffed and arrested by one soldiers called Mbarodi.

He disclosed that he was driven to the NIA headquarters in Banjul but on their way to Banjul, he was blinded folded with cloth.

He also told the Commission his encounter with the embattled Yankuba Badjie, then DG of NIA who visited the detainees.

Captain Bah further told the Commission that he was never told why he was arrested but was released on the 20 January, 2017 after Yahya Jammeh left the country for exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Author: Bruce Asemota