Coupist gives rare insight on Dec. 30th attack

May 27, 2021, 11:52 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Modou Njie, a soldier of The Gambia Armed Force (GAF), yesterday testified before the TRRC on the account of the December 30th attack, which took place at the State House. The attack was aimed at removing former President Yahya Jammeh from power.

The attack resulted in the death of the coupists: Lamin Sanneh, Jaja Nyass and Njaga Jagne, while others fled the country.

Njie, who left the country without official order to find a greener pasture, revealed his salary in the Gambia wasn’t good and his colleagues were arrested, detained and frequently tortured.

“While in Italy, I was not happy with the things happening in the country. I discussed with Bai Lowe, Lamin Sanneh, Jaja Nyass, Lamin Sanneh, Moustapha Fall, Dawda Bojang and others in order to see how to rescue our country from dictatorship and citizens’ suppression. The nine inmates who were killed on the orders of Jammeh were among the reasons that compelled us to engage in such an act and the powers Jammeh used against the soldiers, civil servants and other citizens.”

He said they wanted to effect change so that someone else can become the president but they knew Jammeh couldn't be removed through the ballot boxes as he normally said.

He added that initially he didn’t want to join but because of patriotism, he ended up agreeing to the plan.

“There were many plans to remove him and one was coup d’état. We brought guns in the country in order to ambush Jammeh’s convoy or meet him in a gathering but all those plans didn’t materialise. We eventually attacked the State House. The attack was financed by Cherno Njie, who stayed in America and was decided to be our leader if the coup had succeeded.”

The witness further indicated that their number was small to attack the State House but they knew it was a huge sacrifice, and they considered life or death. He added they knew their plans were a crime but they had no choice.

Upon our arrival, he narrated that they didn’t want to stay long because the country has many talkatives and that could lead to their arrest.

“In fact that happened because they reported us and soldiers were searching for us. They never saw us till we attacked the State House. We used some of the soldiers indirectly and the day we planned the ambush, Jammeh minimised his movement. Later we received a call that Jammeh was to travel and we discussed attacking him at the airport but I suggested not to because of the number of civilians at the ports. We later agreed to allow him to go and we attacked the State House. That was on Saturday and on Monday, we attacked the palace.”

“We divided ourselves into two groups, one at the other side of the gate and other at the front gate. There were other soldiers who were responsible to beg some of the soldiers to open the gate but they didn’t do their work. One Saremba didn’t want to surrender and I calm him and let him understand. Another one fired a warning shot and I returned a shot. I ran and took the car, knocking the door to break. I knew after the gate, there was another machine gun but I had to lie down and the bullet passed. I proceeded and later took cover up and at that moment, Njaga and Lamin Sanneh had already entered. Sanneh was shot to the chest and as Njaga wanted to assist him, he was also shot at the back.”

He continued that he called Bai Lowe who was on top of the machine gun to move from his position because their two men were already down, adding when he called back Njaga, he realised he was dead.

Njie said he recalled Bai Lowe and asked him to tell the rest of the team to leave, which he decided to act as State House commander and later got the chance to jump unto the fence and escape but he didn’t.

“I decided to return to convince the rest but I was hit by General Savage at the back and they started beating me. One of them rushed to them and asked them to stop because if they kill me, they wouldn’t have information. They wounded me, removed all my nails, undressed me naked, tight me and dragged me to the ground. At some point, I pretended as if I was dead and I was taken to the hospital in a private block. I tried to escape but there were many soldiers on the ground. They took me to see the rest of the weapons and they used to take me away from the hospital but at some point, Dr. Samateh, the current Minister of Health, insisted the soldiers will not take me because I was in severe pain.”

He added he was taken to NIA Bamba Dinka with his father and detained. He said he was tried at the Court Martial in Fajara and sentenced. Njie stated he was charged with desertion with six others who were all convicted.

“I was sentenced to death and life imprisonment but was released from the prison when President Barrow took power from Jammeh. Among those who tortured me were Malick Colley, Sabally, General Savage, Bojang and other unknown people.”