By Omar Bah, Fatou Joof & Aisha Temba
Former general, Sulayman Badjie, has for the first time, spoken publicly since going into exile with former president Yahya Jammeh in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017.
The lieutenant general and head of the Republican National Guard, which includes the State Guards responsible for the security of the president, the First Family and State House, was widely believed to have been the closest aide to former president Jammeh and the second most powerful person in the country.
The taciturn general released an audio midweek to rebut a long list of allegations levelled against him by former soldier and a relative of the former president, Omar Sanneh.
In a WhatsApp audio released earlier in the week, Sanneh among other things accused Gen Badjie of conniving with the co-chair of the opposition Coalition 2016, Fatoumata Tambanjang and IEC chairman AM Njai to defeat President Jammeh; instigating and orchestrating the firing, redeployment and jailing of a score of top security personnel and facilitating the entry into the country of the arms shipment from the US used by the 30th December coup attempters.
Sanneh also accused Gen Badjie and his minions of withdrawing monies from the state exchequer without the knowledge of Jammeh; using occult means to taint Jammeh’s meals and spike his drinks in order to control him; severing Jammeh’s ties with his family; and insulting Jolas. He alleged that General Badjie did all these in order to entrench his position and ensconce himself as the former president’s indispensable Man Friday.
Speaking in his native Jola, General Badjie denied Sanneh’s claims and said they were calculated to sow discord between him and Jammeh. “[The allegations are meant to damage my character and reputation because I am not disloyal to Yahya Jammeh. How can you bite the hand that feeds you? Given the support given to me over the years, I see no reason why I should collaborate with his opponents to fight him. If I was indeed a friend of the Coalition government, how come my own wife was arrested by the Gambian police? As I speak, my wife is still going to court. I don’t even know Alieu Momarr Njai or VP Fatoutmatta Jallow-Tambajang… My name is a subject of discussions before the Janneh Commission and I am also on the verge of losing my properties in The Gambia… The commission of inquiry just visited my house last week,” he explained.
He added: “There is too much talk about me, General Badjie. They said I insulted the Jolas, then that means I have insulted my mum. What kind of Jola am I? If I, Sulayman Badjie, did what they are accusing me of, then I do not deserve to live any more. If these allegations are true I want to call on the Jolas to use their culture and kill me immediately, because I will have no cause to stay alive in this world given all what Yahya Jammeh has done for me [if I betrayed him]. If I am the one doing that, kill me. With the peace I am now, why should I support the Coalition government? People are also saying I am behind the problems the APRC is facing now, if that is true, I am again calling on the Jolas to kill me. Since I left The Gambia [my enemies] have been following me. [If as they say] I am the reason why Jammeh cannot comeback to the country, Jolas, get up and kill me. Do what you have to do…Do not even feel anything for me.”