Witness speaks on 22nd July 1994

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Abdou Coreen Bah, yesterday testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise at Dunes Hotel in Kololi.

The witness presently in Washington in the United States of America gave his testimony through Skype.

He recalled that on 22nd July, 1994, he reported at the then vice-president’s residence and they later arrived at the State House at about 7:30 a.m.

He further said whilst the vice-president was having meeting with the American Coast Guard with the then American Ambassador to the Gambia Andrew Winters in attendance, he heard an announcement on his transistor radio that there was movement at Yundum Barracks and the mutiny.

The witness disclosed that he rushed to the vice-president and informed him about the mutiny but was told by the vice-president that he was aware of it.

He further disclosed that he saw the late Kebba Ceesay, the director general of NSS going into the office of Sir D.K. Jawara and later Vice-President Saihou Sabally.

The witness revealed that he was tasked to carry Sir D.K. Jawara’s luggage to the American Anbassador’s vehicle.

He further revealed that he did not know how the decision for Sir D.K. Jawara to leave the State House was taken but Jawara eventually left the State House and when they arrived at the port; and whilst monitoring the events through the radio transistor he heard Yahya Jammeh’s name and he attempted to call him but couldn’t get him.

The witness told the Commission that he also heard Ebrima Chongan, the then Assistant Inspector General of Police on the radio communication.

He stated that the American Coast Guards were combat ready and there was a lot of communication as there was negotiation going on with the international community.

He said the then IGP, Pa Sallah Jagne was rustled by some of the American Coast Guards when he entered into the ship because they had thought he was an interloper but he was released after the intervention of Captain Gassama, President Jawara ADC.

He disclosed that the ship later moved from the port and anchored near the State House and they were able to see the movement inside the State House.

Bah revealed that the ship later left Gambian waters on Saturday and arrived in Dakar on Sunday evening where the Senegalese authority picked them.

The witness disclosed that he later left Dakar for the Gambia but he came through Farafenni and at Farafenni he met one Sanneh who gave him a military uniform which he wore and proceeded to Jarra- Soma and whilst at Jarra-Soma, he called one Kalipha Bajinka one of his colleagues who advised him to report to Fajara Barracks.

Bah told the Commission that upon arrival at Fajara Barracks, he reported to Lt. Abdoulie ‘Dot’ Faal who asked him why he left Saihou Sabally to escape.

The witness said he was locked up for seven days in the guardroom but was later released and he continued his duty and was posted as guard to Central Bank, Radio Gambia and to the NIA headquarters.

He explained that at the NIA headquarters, he saw some ex-ministers of Jawara government being brought and later taken to Fajara barracks.

Bah disclosed that the council members except Yahya Jammeh were present at Fajara Barrack with their group of soldiers.

He explained that he saw Lt. Sana Sabally and co together with their gaurds and group of soldiers cut branches of Neem tree and began to beat the ministers.

Bah pointed out that whilst they were beating the ex-ministers, one Abdoulie Savage, a reporter for the Daily Observer was caught taking photographs of the soldiers beating them.

The witness explained that Abdolie Savage was gun butted by the soldiers, beaten until he was spitting blood.

The witness name some of the ministers arrested at the time as Omar Jallow alias O.J., M. C. Cham, Landing Kitti Jabang, Kama Badjie and Mathew Buba Baldeh amongst others.

The witness disclosed that he got involved in the November 11th 1994 after he was briefed by one Warrant Officer Class 2 WO2 Almamy Bojang, who told him that they were in the process of dislodging the AFPRC regime.

Bah revealed that Amamy Bojang complained about the unfulfilled promises of the junta and that Almamy intimated him that he was talking to other soldiers too.

He further revealed that he was posted on duty on the 9th November 1994 to Yahya Jammeh’s mother residence in Fajara with two other soldiers.

He said when he finished his duty at Yahya Jammeh mother residence and returned to the barrack and he requested that he be put back on duty. Whilst on duty, he said, that he met Sgt. Almamy Bojang who tasked Mustapha Faal and Mandinke Faal to help in the armoury to put the ammunitions together for November 11th onslaught on the council members.

He indicated that Almamy Bojang was tasked to go to Lt. Sana Sabally house and at around 8:00 p.m. on the 10th November. Lt. Benny Minteh briefed the soldiers about the modus operandi of the November 11th onslaught.

Bah revealed that at about midnight on the 10th November, he heard gun shots and there was pandemonium as the soldiers started running helter scepter.

He said at this point he was at the front gate of Fajara Barrack but he ran towards the back gate; and whilst he was running for his life and safety, he heard Lt. Sana Sabally saying Cease Fire, Cease Fire, Cease Fire repeatedly.

He further said he saw Sg.t Nyankabare, Katim Touray and Landing Badjie who was Yahya Jammeh’s driver before the July 22nd takeover running towards the same direction.

Bah disclosed that they ran out of the barracks and as they were approaching the Independence Stadium, Landing Badjie suggested that they go to his residence at Manjaikunda.

Meanwhile, the witness was unable to continue his testimony as a result of technical hitches and the sitting was adjourned. 

Author: Bruce Asemota