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Jan 22, 2010, 11:18 AM
The former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, on Friday continued testifying before Justice Emmanuel Amadi at the high court in Banjul.
Testifying in his defence, in the ongoing treason trial involving him and seven others, Lang Tombong Tamba told the court that he had never, under any circumstances, assigned the 7th accused person, Abodoulie Joof alias Lie Joof, to finance a coup plot, neither did he receive any cheque from him for the purpose of a coup plot.
Tamba also told the court that the seventh accused, Abodoulie Joof, had not attended any meeting in any of his houses for the purpose of a coup plot. He adduced that he had not conspired with the seventh accused and others, to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.
Asked by his counsel whether he knew the rest of the accused persons, he said, "I know all the accused persons."
His work with the 2nd accused person
"I knew Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbaye, since 15 years ago when both of us worked at the Armed Forces headquarters as staff officers. On 22nd March 2006, when I was appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff of GAF, he (2nd accused) worked under me as the Director of Operations and Training at the GAF. And as the Director of Operations and Training, he (the 2nd accused, Bri.Gen Omar Bun Mbye) reports to me as the CDS," Lang Tombong told a packed courtroom.
According to the former CDS, Lang Tombong Tamba, the 2nd accused did act under him in another capacity, that is, as acting deputy CDS for a period of one year, when the Deputy CDS Lt General Massaneh Kinteh went away on an oversea course.
"As the acting Deputy CDS, his working relationship with me was very cordial. That is, "we worked very closely." He further testified that the second accused (Brig. Gen Omar Bun Mbye) co-ordinates all the activities of the Gambia Armed Forces by overseeing all the various branches within the defence headquarters of the Armed Forces, such as operations, training, administration, finance, legal department, the public relations department. "He also co-ordinates on my behalf as the CDS all other activities that relates to the Army, the Navy, the National Guards through their various service chiefs," he testified.
"He also liaised with other sister security services on matters relating to operations and training," Lang Tombong added.
According to him, by virtue of the 2nd accused's appointment, "he was in constant torch with me as the CDS with a telephone to either report to me on a mission given to him on operations or take instructions on matters relating to the operations of GAF."
He further stated that "this gives the 2nd accused the opportunity to call me either day or night and, mostly, we communicate on the mobile phone."
"As the acting Deputy CDS at the time, the second accused receives instructions from me and the instructions given to the 2nd accused were either written or oral. I used to give him instructions by telephone on a daily basis," he further informed the court.
Lang Tombong also noted that the second accused once visited him at his house, during the Koriteh prayers, adding that he cannot remember the exact day, but it was in 2009 Koriteh.
"Koriteh is a Muslim feast celebration at the end of the month of Ramandan. On that day, when I returned from the prayers, the 2nd accused Brig. Gen. Omar Bun Mbye together with the present deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Major Gen. Ousman Badjie, and the present Inspector General of GAF, Brig. Gen. Ebrima Bah, visited me at my residence in Kololi in order to seek my blessings on the occasion of the feast as it was the tradition in the Armed Forces" the former armed forces chief testified.
"I pray for them, they pray for me, as well as for the satiability of The Gambia. We also pray for our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for good health, and a longer tenure in office," he added.
Lang Tombong said the allegation made by PWI (Ebrima Marreh) was not true, adding that the second accused had never visited him at his residence in Kololi to attend a meeting for the purpose of a coup plot. He also denied the charges that he conspired with others to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.
As he put it, "we had sworn to an oath of allegiance and loyalty to the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Gambia Armed Forces."
His relationship with the third accused
Lang Tombong Tamba, who is also the first accused person, told the court how he came to know the 3rd accused and about their relationship. He said he knew the 3rd accused, Lt. Colonel Lamin Bo Badjie, since 1995, when he was posted at State House as State House Commander. He said the 3rd accused (Lt. Lamin Bo Badjie) was among the soldiers working under him.
"He also worked under me at the Defence Headquarters as the Director of Intelligence and Security of the Gambia Armed Forces, at the time when I was the deputy CDS, and as well as CDS.
"We had worked very closely when he (3rd accused) was appointed as the Director General of the National Interlingence Agency, and my working relationship with the third accused on all his appointments was very close," he stated.
The 3rd accused by virtue of his appointment as the Director of Intelligence and Security at GAF used to advise him as the CDS on matters of security and intelligence, noting that they were constantly in touch by telephone, both day and night.
"We call each other, either when I have to give him an assignment or he had to report back to me on matters that relate to security and intelligence on the GAF," he adduced.
"When the 3rd accused was appointed as the Director General of NIA we were constantly in touch by mobile telephone.
"As service chiefs, we do call each other when we had information of the President travelling, so as to put all security arrangements in place. And there are other security matters that require service chiefs to come together and address them, and all this co-ordination is done by use of a mobile phone," Lang who was standing in the dock for two and a half hours told the court.
"The communication between me and the 3rd accused person ceased when I was removed from office, on 9th October. We did not see each other until when we were arrested at the NIA headquarters. The 3rd accused never visited me in any of my houses. I have never visited the 3rd accused. I did not even know where he lives, and what bound us together was the job," he further testified.
He then adduced that he had never attended any meeting with him in his house in order to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.
He also denied taking Rui Jabbi Kassama to the house of the third accused for the purpose of a meeting relating to a coup plot to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.
"I have never met or known Rui Jabbi, and I don't know where the third accused lives," he said, adding that he had never conspired with him to overthrow the democratically elected government of The Gambia.
His relationship with the fourth accused
Concerning his relationship with the fourth accused, Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, Lang Tombong Tamba said "when I was the State House Commander in 1995, the 4th accused, Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, was among the soldiers that worked under me, and both of us originated from the same district call Foni Jarrol."
He said he did not have a direct working relationship with the fourth accused, and did not have cause to talk to him. "As the CDS, all the soldiers and officers were under my command," he added.
"The 4th accused has never visited me at my residence, and I have also never visited him too," Lang Tombong stated.
He said the 4th accused has never attended a meeting in his house for the purpose of plotting a coup to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia, and also denied assigning the (4th accused) to monitor the President's movement.
"I have not conspired with the 4th accused to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia," he concluded.
His relationship with 6th accused Ngorr Secka
On his relationship with the 6th accused, Ngorr Secka, Lang Tombong Tamba told the crowded court room that he got to know the 6th accused, Ngorr Secka, because, "we lived in the same street when both of us were going to school, and used to play football with his younger brothers.
"When I was appointed as the CDS of the Gambia Armed Forces on the 22nd March 2006, the 6th accused was also appointed as the Deputy Director General of NIA, and I had that working relationship with him (6th accused)," he stated.
"I have not assigned Rui Jabbi Gassama to purchase arms, or even to communicate with him for the purpose of a coup. I have not conspired with the 6th accused and others to overthrow the democratically elected Government of the Gambia," he further said in his defence.
His relationship with the 7th accused Abodoulie Joof
According to Lang Tombong Tamba, he came to know the 7th accused Abdoulie Joof when he was a junior officer with the rank of Lieutenant.
"My brother sent me a car from Denmark and during the process of getting the car from the Gambia Ports Authority in 1995, that was when I met the 7th accused, Abodoulie Joof," he told the court.
He adduced that the 7th accused was then a clearing agent, who assisted him to clear his car, noting that he (7th accused) had never visited him at any of his houses.
"The only time the 7th accused visited me was September 2009, on the death of my father at Siffoe village in the Western Region of The Gambia, and he (7th accused) was among ministers, diplomats, service chiefs, and well-wishers, who sympathised me on the death of my father," he added.
He said the 7th accused was also among the sympathisers who attended the seven days charity for his late father at the same place in Siffoe. Apart from the seven days charity, he had never heard from the seventh accused again.
"The only time I saw him was at the NIA, when we are all arrested," he further testified.
His relationship with the 8th accused Yusuf Ezziden
"I knew the 8th accused in 1995; he was at that time among few Lebanese Gambians who supported the transitional government of President Jammeh, after the coup in 1994, when the government was mandated to rule for two years. At the time, the 8th accused brought containers of TV sets, music sets, video sets and gave them to soldiers, police and the fire service on affordable and long term payment for a period of six months, as it was not possible for these men to pay cash and carry, thereby improving the standard of those personnel," he said of Rambo.
He said the 8th accused was the only Lebanese Gambian who goes to the airport whenever the President is travelling to see him off or to receive him back home, among other dignitaries.
"By virtue of his love for the President, I saw the need to befriend him," he adduced, adding that "every Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we play football together, and have lunch in the 8th accused person's house."
"The 8th accused has also supported the Gambia Armed Forces for its activities, which had earned him recognition by the President, and he was awarded the service medal by the President," he said.
"When I lost my father in September 2009, he was out of the country, and upon his return he came to my house in Kololi to sympathise with me on the death of my father, but could not find me there and left a message with my wife," the ex-armed forces chief told the court.
According to Lt. General Tamba, the 8th accused was also among the sympathisers, who joined him for the 40 days charity of his late father in Siffoe village in the Western Region in September 2009, adding that the 8th accused also visited him when he lost his daughter in February.
He said he never assigned the 8th accused to finance the alleged coup plot, as alleged by PW1 Ebrima Marreh, and he also denied receiving a cheque from him for the purpose of a coup plot.
"I have not conspired with the 8th accused and others to overthrow the democratically-elected government of The Gambia.
"We communicated on mobile telephone on a daily basis, and if we are to go for a football match on Mondays and Fridays we call one another, and sometimes when he had an announcement that the President is to travel, he will call me to confirm as he always wants to see the President off. And he sometimes calls me for dinner," he finally stated.
Continuation of the ex-Chief of Defence Staff testimony in his own defence continues today Monday at 1 pm.