Rtd. Capt. Kambi suggests perpetrators testify before victims

Friday, January 25, 2019

Retired Captain Ebrima Kambi has told the Commission that he preferred to get the perpetrators first to come and testify before the Commission before the victims.

Retired Captain Kambi narrated his ordeal in Liberia and the incident which became the turning point in their peacekeeping mission.

The witness who testified as the 10th witness before the said Commission yesterday urged the government to overhaul the institutions, noting that the services must be regulated and restructured.

The witness disclosed that there are still bogus rank holders in The Gambia National Army issued by ex-President Yahya Jammeh.

He called for regimentation in the army and condemned nepotism, noting that promotions should be based on merit.

He stated that some officers carry ranks that are incompatible with their performance and status.

He further stated that The Gambia National Army should be structured to fit its strength, noting that if the army is brigadier strength, the army should also have army in brigadier ranks and not major, Lt. Gen. ranks.

He disclosed that the ‘never again slogan of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) would be realised if the proper institutional reforms are put in place.

He told the Commission how the then Liberian dictator; Samuel Doe was slain by the rebel group led by Johnson in the presence of the then ECOMOG Commander.

He also told the Commission the change of ECOMOG commander from Ghanaian commander to the Nigeria commander Brigadier General Dongoyaro of Nigeria.

Captain Kambi narrated his experience with Charles Taylor rebel group and his subsequent loss of his leg, two members of his platoon, lance Corporal Lamin Bojang, a medic and private Sama Jawo his orderly who lost their lives in Liberia.

The witness how he was taking to Sierra Leone and thereafter to The Gambia for treatment which did come easy, the role he played in the military accident in Kafuta village involving soldiers like Captain J. Johnson, Kendaka Jaye and another.

He told the Commission that as at the time of the 1994 coup-d-etat, he was the staff officer responsible for logistics at the Army Headquarters and Col. Abubacarr Dada was the Army Commander.

He said Major Lie Conteh, Captain Babucarr Jatta, Captain Wilson, Fabakary Ceesay and Sheikh Omar Faye were some of the most senior Gambian officers in the army at the time.

He explained that he transacted the move for some officers at the Gendarmerie to the Gambia National Army, citing Sadibou Hydara and the absorption of Yahya Jammeh from the Gendarmerie as the head of military police.

The witness described Yahya Jammeh as strong headed and was known for disobedience to his superiors.

Captain Kambi told the Commission his interaction with Yahya Jammeh when he cautioned and stopped him (Yahya Jammeh) from using a drug suspect vehicle which infuriated Jammeh and began to exhibit some strange behaviour towards him.

22nd July, 1994

Retired Captain Kambi told the Commission that he left for work early in the morning on the 22nd July, 1994 as he was picked by GNA 10’s Renault car; on board were Babucar Jatta, Wilson, Johnson at his residence in Cape Point and as they got near Denton Bridge, they were informed by soldiers that they go to Fajara Barracks and answer to their leaders.

Kambi said he went home and his colleagues left for their home as well but as he was on his way home, he heard Captain Sonko’s voice from his transmitter radio that there was coup-d-etat.

He revealed that he proceeded to Col. AQ’s residence around Senegambia and thereafter to his house and changed his clothes and got a vehicle from one of his old school teacher and drove to the State House.

Kambi said upon arrival at the State House he found Yahya Jammeh, Almamo Manneh, Musa Jammeh and Buba Jammeh upstairs.

He pointed out that he saw Yahya Jammeh sitting and there were no other council members there and Yahya Jammeh told him to stay with him and he stayed; and Yahya Jammeh said that they have taken over the country and that ex-President Jawara can come back as a citizen but not the president of The Gambia.

The witness told the Commission that he saw Capt. Sam Sarr and Capt. Mamat Cham at State House.

Captain Kambi revealed that the 3rd day after the coup whilst he was at the State House, Jammeh told him that he was going to appoint him as the mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and he (Kambi) looked into Jammeh eyes and told him that he is not going to KMC, adding that he is from Kiang.

Captain Kambi further revealed that Jammeh then told him that he was going to appoint him as the State House chief of staff, adding that he allocated accommodations for the council members except Edward Singhateh who chose his own accommodation at Cape Point.

Kambi recalled that during the initial days of the coup, Yahya Jammeh usually listens to him, stating how he advised Jammeh to release the detained ex-ministers of Sir Dawda Jawara’s government.

He explained how he walked bare footed with Jammeh to the then NSS office in Banjul to see O.J., Kamal Badjie and Famadu Sanyang and release them.

Kambi told the Commission how Jammeh was told by Kamal Badjie that if he changes everything, he should never change the National Anthem because it was a prayer for country.

Kambi further told the Commission that how his close ties with Jammeh created animosity and envy within the other council members as they stopped greeting him and the admonition by a soldier to be very careful.

His Arrest and detention

The witness told the Commission that his problem started when he saw Lt. Lang Tombong Tamba at his residence and informed him that the council members called him (Lang Tombong Tamba) and instructed him to go and pick him on the pretext that he was needed by Yahya Jammeh and was going somewhere with Yahya Jammeh.

The witness further told the Commission that after refusing and persuasions he finally went with him to the State House and upon arrival at the State House and whilst he was going upstairs, he was stopped by a soldier who had rounds of bullets round his body like Rambo, who told him that he would go up there and that he Kambi was going somewhere.

Kambi disclosed that few moments later he was reprimanded by the soldier, then Sadibou Hydara and Sana Sabally arrived and surrounded with soldiers, adding that Sana Sabally asked him to get into his (Sabally’s) car.

The witness further disclosed that they drove to the maximum security wing number 4 and he was detained without being processed and not being informed of what he had done.

The witness described the condition of the cell as very deplorable, small and the food not fit for human consumption, adding that he would not give his horse such food.

The witness revealed that whilst in cell, his health condition aggravated and got worse, he mentioned other detainees who were with him at the security wing.

He told the Commission his experience on the night of 6th September, 1994, the mob execution conducted by Sana Sabally, Edward Singhateh, Peter Singhateh, Yakuba Touray and their guards and mentioned individuals they took out from their cells, dragged them, beat and tortured them.

He told the Commission that the psychological effect of the event of 6th September, 1994 impacted on him and other detainees and the eventual arrest and detention of Sana Sabally and Sadibou Hydara at the security wing number 1.

The witness informed the Commission how he indicted with a trumped charge of treason and was court-martialed but was discharged and acquitted, his re-arrest and detention, his final release from detention on the 3rd February, 1997. 

Author: Bruce Asemota