Sergeant Modou Lamin Bah yesterday testified before the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission chaired by Dr. Lamin J. Sise.
He recalled that Edward Singateh informed him about two plans about the 22nd July coup; adding that plan (a) was to stage a coup and when they succeed, all the soldiers would be promoted, whilst plan (b) would be to assassinate the senior officers, loot the Central Bank of the Gambia and flee should plan (A) fails.
He said prior to the coup, Lt. Edward Singateh enlisted him to provide information since he was the orderly to the commander of 1st Infantry Battalion, Lt. Col. Odu.
The witness recalled that on the 21st of July, 1994, he knew that something was going to happen after observing the body languages of both Lt. Sana Sabally and Edward Singateh.
He testified that Lt. Yahya Jammeh was supposed to seize President Jawara, fire some warning shots into the air and arrest the dignitaries including cabinet ministers present.
Sgt. M.L. Bah revealed that whilst the guard of honour was assembled prior to the arrival of president Jawara, Lt. Yahya Jammeh was disarmed by Lt. Col. Odu who asked Yahya Jammeh what he was doing at the airport at the time when he was supposed to send his juniors to the airport.
The witness said he heard Lt. Col. Odu speaking to Yahya Jammeh, saying "why are you here?."
He said he also heard Yahya Jammeh said it was his country and Jawara was his president and was behaving like he doesn't know what was going on.
The witness told the Commission that Lt. Col. Odu took Yahya Jammeh's pistol and threw it into the boot of his car.
He further told the Commission that after receiving Sir D.K.Jawara who went to the State House, the officers retired to the barracks.
He disclosed that whilst at the barracks, Lt. Yahya Jammeh came to see Lt. Col Odu in his office, whilst the door was ajar; he heard Lt. Yahya Jammeh queried him why he was disarmed.
The witness further disclosed that Lt. Col. Odu responded saying "you know that we not going to allow this to happen at the airport, you can go after him at his residence."
M.L. Bah told the Commission that Yahya Jammeh asked as to how they could get Jawara at his residence, then Lt. Col Odu informed him that there was going to be a military exercise with the Americans the next day which they could use as a good cover for them to do whatever act they want to do.
The witness revealed that Yahya Jammeh smiled and then left Lt. Col. Odu office.
The witness further revealed that he left with Lt. Col. Odu and dropped him at his residence in Banjulinding and proceeded to Yundum Barrack where he went to have good time.
22nd July, 1994 Coup-d'-etat
Sgt. M.L. Bah testified that the next day being the 22nd July, 1994, he saw some gendarmerie officers patrolling around Yundum Barrack but observed that Lt. Col. Odu called the then IGP, Pa Sallah Jagne to withdraw the officers around Yundum Barrack or failure to do so may result to serious consequence.
He further testified that subject to the said warning, the gendarmerie officers were withdrawn.
He stated that Almammo Manneh and Basirou Camara assigned with the task of handling the armoury and transport were not seen; so Yusupha Jammeh and Ebou Ceesay broke the armoury.
The witness told the Commission that he took L.M.G. ammunitions and 4 grenades, adding that Abdou Kareem Bah and Batch Samba Jalow jumped over the fence to the main highway where they commandeered a truck and two minio-vans to take them to Banjul.
He explained that before boarding the vehicles, Yahya Jammeh asked them to wait and shortly afterwards as they were waiting for instruction from Yahya Jammeh to go, somebody coming from Brikama end towards Serekunda stopped at the barrack gate.
He further explained that the said person alighted from the vehicle holding a calabash containing concoctions, which he gave to Yahya Jammeh to drink and washed his face, thereafter passed it to Lt. Sana Sabally Lt. Edward Singateh and himself.
He pointed out that Lt. Jammeh ordered that any officer above their rank should be arrested
The witness disclosed that as they began boarding vehicle, the Adjutant, Sheriff Gomez arrived and he was arrested at gun point and taken to the cell where O.B. Mbaye, the duty officer had spent the night.
The witness further disclosed that as they were going to Banjul, any government vehicle seen was being seized and taken.
He said when they got to Banjulinding Police Station, they overran the said station and put one soldiers to take charge and continued to GAMTEL Station in Abuko where they disconnected the international services and proceeded to Fajara Barrack.
He pointed out that he went with Lt. Sana Sabally to Fajara Barracks whilst Yahya Jammeh and Edward Singateh headed for Banjul.
He said he stayed in Fajara Barrack for two days but returned to Yundum Barrack after the new government was in place.
The witness testified that the council members promised that when they succeed, they would compensate the soldiers, which he said was never fulfilled and in the end created disgruntlement among some soldiers.
He recalled that he had meeting with some soldiers like Ansu Sonko, Alagie Kanyi, Basirou Camara, Bojang to vent their anger and frustration about the unfulfilled promises of the council members.
M.L. Bah told the Commission that on the 8th November, 1994 he was transferred to the Army Headquarters as the orderly to the then Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Col. Babucarr Jatta.
He disclosed that upon arrival to report at the headquarters, he met Lt. Basirou Barrow who was dismayed that he was still not promoted.
The witness further disclosed that on the 10th of November, 1994, the council members except Yahya Jammeh held a meeting at Yundum Barrack.
He stated that all the council members spoke in the very said meeting, he recalled that Lt. Sana Sabally spoke first and warned about the consequence of being caught staging a coup.
He further stated that Lt. Edward Singateh spoke and admonished that if anything is wrong, it should be reported to him as the Defence minister and he then fired two shots into the air. The witness told the commission this didn't go well with the soldiers who described the shots as threats.
He said Lt. Sadibou Hydara and Lt. Yankuba Touray also spoke and he left with Lt. Col. Babucarr Jatta around 5:00 p.m. for the Army Headquarters at the conclusion of the meeting.
Night of November 11, 1994
The witness told the Commission that he was in his residence in the night of 10th November, 1994 when both Alagie Kanyi and Ebrima Ceesay knocked on his door and asked him to report at the camp but he refused to go.
"I went into my house, picked my gun and marched them out, left the barrack and went to Banjulinding to see Lt. Col. Babucarr Jatta to inform him not to go to the barrack," he said.
The witness disclosed that Lt. Col. Jatta instead asked him to spend the night in his residence but he declined and left for the barrack.
He explained that whilst he was on his way to the barrack, he met Lt. Basirou Barrow's car coming towards him but he dashed down and after Lt. Barrow disappeared out of his sight, he navigated his way to the barrack and slept till dawn of November 11th, 1994.
Event of November 11, 1994
The witness told the Commission that after he was awoken by his clock alarm at about 6:00 a.m., he opened his door and saw a soldier who informed about the events during the night and then asked him to go to the barrack to see for himself.
The witness further told the Commission that after he prepared and left for the camp and whilst on his way to the camp, he was halted by a soldier whom he had an altercation with and refused to take orders from him and warned him to shoot him if he is man enough; and he threatened to kill the soldier if he fails to kill him.
The witness said the soldier left him to go after the altercation and upon arrival at the Ante Room (Officer's Mess), he met Lt. Sana Sabally and the other council members holding a list and ordering that anybody who sees the names mentioned on the list should kill them and the killer would have no case to answer.
He mentioned Lt. Gibril Saye, Lt. Buba Jammeh, Lt. Lamin Darboe, Lt. Bakary Manneh Nyancho and Lt. Bah aka Achoopi amongst others.
The witness told the Commission that he saw a military truck parked around the guardroom and he heard Lt. Sana Sabally said: "look at them, they want to become president."
He testified that he heard Lt. Edward Singhateh instructed Alagie Kanyi to go and bring Fafa Nyang whose hands were tied behind and asked to run for his life.
The witness further testified that it was Lt. Edward that fired first and when Fafa Nyang fell down, Lamin Colley the medic finished him deliberately.
At this point the witness told the Commission that Lamin Colley lied to the Commission that it was a negligent discharge that killed Fafa Nyang to cover himself from the responsibility.
The witness revealed that after the death of Fafa Nyang, he moved towards the guardroom and informed Lt. Col. B. Jatta that his driver, Babucarr Ngum was in the cell.
The witness further revealed that Lt. Col. Jatta asked him to make arrangement to secure Ngum's release, which he did after meeting both Buba Jammeh and Batch Samba Jallow.
M.L. Bah indicated that he would have gone with Lt. Sabally and his entourage including Lt. Col. Jatta to wherever they were going after some of the captured soldiers were called and put in a land Rover, but he had an altercation with Lt. Col. Jatta.
He explained that Lt. Col. Jatta left without him after Lt. Col. taunted him, saying hope he (the witness) was not part of it and he responded that hope he Lt. Col Jatta was also not part of it.
He said after the altercation Lt. Col Jatta left with the council members and they returned with the Land Rover with dead bodies covered with leaves, parked near the cook house.
He pointed out that Alagie Kanyi and Buba Jammeh aka Kanilai participated in the burial of the fallen soldiers, adding that Alagie Kanyi was crazy at the time.