By Yankuba Jallow
Abdou Karim Bah, a former orderly to ex-vice president in the PPP government, Saihou Sabally has on Monday the 25th February 2019 commenced testifying on the November 11, 1994 attempted coup d’état by disgruntle soldiers who were least appeased with the AFPRC.
Bah’s testimony was hampered yesterday by the Commission by failing to provide good connection. Bah was speaking before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission as a witness in the second session of the Commission which is about the November 11, 1994, aborted coup and the brutal killings of soldiers. Monday was the 23rd day of the TRRC sittings since commencement.
Bah has earlier given an explanation as to how he joined the ship that took ex-President Jawara, his family, ex-ministers, and some security chiefs among others. He said they boarded an American Naval ship that took them to Senegal. He said the people in the ship included: Bakary B. Darboe, an ex-minister of Finance, Saihou Sabally, the then vice president and minister of defense at the time of the coup, and Pa Sallah-Jagne, the inspector general of police at the time of the coup.
He said he spent only one day in Senegal and came back to assume his role.
On His First Detention
He said he was detained by Abdoulie Faal, commonly called ‘Dot Faal’, for allowing Saihou Sabally leave the country. He said he spent about a week in the guard room before he was released. He said after his release, he was posted at the ex-chairman of the Armed Forces Provincial Ruling Council’s mother’s residence as a guard. This ‘Dot Faal’, according to the testimonies of witnesses, was also a victim of November 11 in which he was brutally killed.
Explanation About November 11 Coup
He said soldiers were not happy with the AFPRC because they ‘have failed to keep up to their promises.’ He said the Council promised that after a successful coup, they will improve the welfare of soldiers, promote them, increase their salaries and get them better accommodation. He stated that the Council did not do anything about their promises; so soldiers decided to stage a countercoup that was supposed to take place on the 11 November 1994.
He said the information about the ongoing plan for staging the November 11 coup was passed to him by Warrant Officer Class 2, Almamo Bojang who was his neighbor in the Fajara Barracks.
“What motivated you to join the November 11 attempted coup,” asked the lead counsel, Essa M. Faal.
The witness in his response stated that he decided to be part of the coup because of the inhumane treatment of the AFPRC regime where civilians were tortured including ex-ministers during the PPP government and Abdoulie Savage who was a journalist for the Daily Observer Newspaper. He said Savage was heartlessly tortured by soldiers for using his camera to video the torment of ex-ministers at the Fajara Barracks. The witness said the ex-ministers as well as Savage were all tortured in the presence of Edward Singhateh, Sanna Sabally, Yankuba Touray and Sadibou Hydara. He adduced that the ex-ministers were tortured with the use of sticks from a tree by soldiers at the Fajara Barracks sometime in 1994.
On The Supposed Day of the Coup
He said on this day, he was supposed to be on a two days leave but he informed the Clerk responsible for the postings that he wants to stay instead of going for the two-day break. He said he did that with the aim of participating in the planned coup that was supposed to take place on the 11th November. He said on the 10th November, he was signed out for his weapon and was tasked with the responsibility of the armoury by the coup plotters.
He said in the evening they were briefed by Liuetenant Binneh Minteh about the coup.
About The Witness
He said he was born on the 25th March 1971 in Madina Sotokoi, Kombo East District in the West Coast Region. He said after completing schooling in 1989, he joined the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) before joining the Gambia National Gendarmerie in 1991. He said he was enlisted on the 1st June 1991 and completed the recruitment training eighteen months later. He said he was moved from the Mobile Unit of the Gendarmerie and posted at the armoury as a clerk; he got his first promotion as a Lance Corporal. He said a few months later, he was assigned to be an orderly to ex-Vice President Saihou Sabally. He said he was the orderly to the ex-Vice President until the July 1994 coup took place.
About July 1994 Coup
He said he went to the State House and assumed his duties. He said at the State House, he was provided with that day’s scheduled visitors of the Vice President by the secretary. He said the first visitors on that day were the American Coast Guards who were in the country. The witness told the Commission that he had a radio were a communication was transmitted that there was an ongoing mutiny by soldiers in the Yundum Barracks. He said when he informed the ex-vice president about the information he received, the he then replied that he knew about it. He added that the ex-vice president asked him to immediately allow the Americans to get in whenever they arrive. He said the Americans were received and it was the vehicle of the American Ambassador that the President boarded. He said they lodged the American ship together with President Jawara, the American Ambassador, Andrew Winters and 46 other Gambians. He said it took them three days to reach Senegal.
The sittings will continue today at 10 am.