(Thursday 17 October 2019 Issue)
Singhatey, the then vice chairman of Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council
(AFPRC) Wednesday told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission
(TRRC) that it was former junta member Sana Sabally, who first launched the 22
July coup in 1994 that toppled the government of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
“The coup was launched by Lt. Sana Sabally. I was in my house sleeping when former president Yahya Jammeh came and woke me up by shouting my name and throwing stones on the roof of my house,” he said.
Singhatey said Jammeh told him that Sana Sabally had called to inform him that he had already broken into one of the armories and the coup was taking place and he has to pick him and they move.
He indicated that Sana Sabally and Sadibou Hydara got in their vehicle and departed to take over Fajara Barracks, where they should break down the communication; close the air and sea ports, while he and Jammeh will go and takeover State House.
“At the time of going to take over the State House, Jammeh wanted to opt out but I gripped him and put him in the truck and sandwiched him not to escape. When we reached Denton Bridge, we spoke to the commander there and crossed tactically.”
The witness explained that when they reached Gambia High School, they found some soldiers who ambushed them but he explained to them to join them because they were there for the system.
“They joined us and I divided the team into groups. Others used the back gate with Jammeh and my group went through the front gate. We were armed with RPG7 and machine guns.”
He explained that when they entered and took over the State House, the first thing they did was to gather all the security officers, explain to them and asked for their cooperation.
He said there was misunderstanding between them during the third meeting with officers at State House when they were about to choose their leaders, where Samusidin Sarr told them that it was their coup and they should go up stairs and discus and later come back.
“We went and looked at the leadership on who will be the head of state. I chose Yahya Jammeh but Sana Sabally was not happy. Later, Jammeh said he wanted me as his vice but I told him no because I needed to go back to the Barracks. Sana was given the vice chairman post and I was defense, and I suggested Yankuba Touray and he was made the minister of Local Government and Lands while Mamat Cham was minister of Works”
On the detention of security officers after the coup, the former junta strongman confirmed that soldiers were arrested and detained at Mile 2, but he asked for forgiveness for that action.
“Captain Ebrima Kanji and Ndure Cham who were detained did nothing and they shouldn’t have been arrested. For the case of Mamat Cham, Malick Njie, Samusidin Sarr, Sheriff Gomez and Johnson, I got to know that they were planning a coup but their matter was not investigated well.”
On the arrest of OJ Jallow and others, he said he was not part of those who arrested them, but he saw Sana Sabally’s truck with some soldiers. He added at the remand wing, they were taken one after the other and beaten.
“When I saw that, I decided to leave. I went straight to State House and when I explained that to Jammeh, he laughed and I told him those people are elders and he later called Sana to stop.”
On the September 5 and 6 Mile 2 allegation, he confirmed going to Mile 2 at night but never participated in any beatings or torturing. “We agreed to interview some people who were alleged of planning a coup.”
He highlighted that when they entered the Mile 2 prison, Mamat Cham was dragged out of the cell, hit on his face and grabbed down by one of the officers who used his rifle to hit him. “I also knew of Cpt. Ebrima Chongan, Sheriff Gomez and RSM Abubacarr Jeng being beaten but I never participated.”