Ex-army chief Tamba expresses disappointment over killing of Daba Marena

Dec 17, 2020, 11:57 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham 

The former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), Rtd. Lt-Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba in continuation of his testimony at the TRRC, revealed that he was very disappointed at former President Yahya Jammeh for ordering the killings of Daba Marena, Ebou Lowe, Malafi Corr, Alieu Bah and Massin Jammeh without having them tried by a court of law.

Testifying on the case of Daba Marena and colleagues, Tamba explained that one morning, he was informed by ‘Jungler’ Tumbul Tamba that Daba Marena and colleagues were being transferred from Mile 2 Prison to Janjanburreh Prison and on the way, they escaped. 

"I asked him whether they were not hand-cuffed? and he replied in the negative. Then he told me that the president ordered for me, Ousman Sonko and Harry Sambou, the then head of the NIA to write a press release on the matter. Daba Marena and colleagues were arrested in connection with the March 2006 coup attempt."

He, however, agreed that he was ordered to be part of writing a press release that he had no knowledge about. He added that the press release indicated that anyone who had any information about the matter can simply report it to the nearest police station or army barracks.

On whether he later came to know about the actual disappearance of Daba Marena and colleagues, he replied in the positive.

"At one time, it was a rumoured that they were killed and we later heard from the junglers who testified before the TRRC that they were killed."

Confirming the lack of evidence to implicate Daba Marena as regards the alleged coup, former army chief stated that he was disappointed when he heard that Daba was killed. 

"I have condemned their unlawful execution. I felt disappointed by the president for killing people who were not yet tried by a court of law."

Dwelling on the issue of Sam Kambai, Tamba confirmed that Sam committed an offence and therefore he (Tamba) ordered for his interrogation at the NIA.

"I got information from Yahya Jammeh that rebels were arrested and taken to the NIA. I was told that Sam was part of those who used to sell explosives to the rebels and that was why I surrendered Sam to the NIA. I later received report that Sam was tortured and I expressed my dismay because I never expected that a serving member of the army should be tortured."

Explaining his arrest as a result of his involvement in an alleged coup attempt in 2009, Tamba stated that he was arrested by the junglers and taken to the NIA.

"I was interrogated and they said my arrest was as a result of my involvement in a planned coup, which I denied. Ensa Badjie and Numo Kujabi were in present during the interrogation. Ensa said it was President Yahya Jammeh who ordered for my arrest and I was not tortured in any form." 

He told the commission that he was detained at Mile 2 Prison for about three weeks without appearing in a court of law. He added that junglers pulled a trigger at him to confirm that he had planned the coup or be killed. However, ex-CDS Tamba said he denied the allegation and was rescued by another jungler.

Tamba further testified that many witnesses stated that he was tortured. However, he denied those statements, saying he was never tortured during his detention.

He continued that he was charged with treason and found guilty, adding he was sentenced to life imprisonment but later pardoned by Jammeh.