Major Camara narrates his involvement in 2006 abortive coup

Nov 18, 2020, 9:57 AM | Article By: Pa Modou Cham

Major Wassa Camara of The Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) yesterday testified before the TRRC and recounted his involvement in the March 2006 coup attempt led by Ndure Cham, the then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

He said he was subsequently arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In Mach 2006, he testified that he was informed by Colonel Ndure Cham that it was time to effect change because there were many divisions, rampant corruption, disrespect for the rule of law and tribalism; all caused by former president Yahya Jammeh's government.

He told the commission that he agreed to join the attempted coup because of poor governance, tribal sentiments and more.

He added that at that time, he was having this mindset of protecting the integrity and territory of The Gambia. According to him, the then president violated the constitutional rights given to him as a president, which made it clear that he was not fit to govern the country.

"If the president is not abiding by the constitution, then The Gambia Armed Forces has to stand firm and overthrow the government. We all knew what was going on; from enforced disappearance, unlawful detention, arbitrary arrest and more."

He, however, admitted that it was a worst crime for a soldier to stage a coup in a democratic state.

Major Camara alleged that the then Cpt. Yahya Darboe of Yundum Barracks, WO1 Alpha Bah of Guard Battalion at Faraja Barracks, Lt. Ebou Lowe, Sgt. Manlafi Corr of State Guard Battalion were all involved in the 2006 coup attempt.

"Ndure further told me that almost all of the ministers were in support of him with soldier Lang Tombong Tamba and members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). He also told me there was a fall apart between him, Peter Singhateh and Lang Tombong and he later told me that Edward Singhateh should be arrested immediately after the coup succeed. He continued to explain to me that their problem emanates from the choosing of leadership after the coup succeeded."

He stated that at the time of the planning, Yahya Jammeh had travelled to Mauritania.

Witness added that upon arrival of Jammeh at the airport, he was informed at Yundum Barrack that Lang Tombong, who was the then deputy CDS commanded the immediate arrest of Ndure Cham, wherever he was seen.

"That night I used my car to drop some of the military police officers to their respective checkpoints. As I was returning to Yundum Barrack, a vehicle parked in front of me with full light, from which Abdousallam Mendy came out and said I was under arrest."

He continued that he was received by Colley Omar alias Jagai and proceeded to the Mile 2 Prison and taken to Maximum Security Wing.

Major Camara said the Security Wing was filled with both soldiers and civilians, saying many people were taken to the NIA Headquarters for interrogation.

He told the commission that he was taken to NIA Headquarters where he was interrogated by one Hydara; who was the then director of NIA regarding his involvement in the failed coup. He added that Demba Sowe of The Gambia Police, Lang Tombong of The Gambia Armed Forces, Ousman Sonko, the inspector general of police, Baba Saho, Foday Barry, Ousman Sonko, Tombul Tamba and more people were present.

"I initially told them I knew nothing about the coup but when I saw some broken teeth with blood on the table and they threatened to do the same to me, I later accepted my involvement. Baba Saho of the NIA slapped and scratched my eyes during the interrogation."

Major Camara further testified that he was beaten mercilessly by members of the black-black – commonly called ‘junglers’ with electrical pipes and blood coming from everywhere from his body. He added that he was filmed during one of his torture moments and played to Jammeh.

Lead Counsel Essa Faal at that juncture ordered a replay of the confession video of Major Camara where he claimed that he was not beaten, neither tortured in any form by anybody.

From the NIA, the witness claimed that he was made to give out those statements for Jammeh to forgive him.

He added that the statement was used against him in Court Martial and he was found guilty on five counts and sentenced to life imprisonment after having been detained for 90 days incommunicado at Mile 2 Prison before prosecution.

"I spent nine years four months and 13 days in prison. July 22nd 2015, Lamin Jah informed me that I was pardoned by Jammeh. That was how I was subsequently released on Friday."

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