Gambia: At the TRRC - Lamin Kabba Bajo Testifies

Lamin Kabba Bajo, a former Interior Minister under the then administration of former President Jammeh, yesterday Tuesday April 16th testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), that he received information about the death of former Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay, from the former CDS Lang Tombong Tamba while he (Kabba Bajo) travelled with ex-president to attend the AU Submit in Ethiopia.

According to Bajo, in June 1995 he travelled with ex-president Jammeh to Addis Ababa to attend the AU Submit; that upon arrival, he received information within 20 minutes from former junta Chairman Jammeh, that Ousman Koro Ceesay was involved in an accident and got burnt to ashes in his vehicle.

Bajo who appeared as the 50th witness of the Truth Commission, made this disclosure at Dunes Hotel in Kololi.

"I could see ex-president Jammeh in a sombre and terrifying mood after breaking the news to me," he remarked. When questioned about suggestions by Mustapha Marong, the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice in the former AFPRC Government that he sat with Yahya Jammeh when Bajo was told to investigate the death of late Finance Minister Ousman Koro Ceesay's, he replied in the negative by denying Marong's statement.

He went to say that on November 11 1994, he received information from his driver that that there was shooting at Yundum Barracks. He recalled hearing the information on the national media, when former Vice Chairperson Sana Sabally went on air saying some soldiers lost their lives during a shootout because they wanted to dislodge the then AFPRC Junta Government.

According to Bajo, some of the factors that contributed to the July 22 coup, was promotion; that this was based on whom you know instead of qualification. "I have been languishing for over five years without acquiring a scholarship to go for overseas Gendarmerie training course," he said; that there was a chance that came on his way for him to go for overseas training course and ex-president Jammeh accompanied him to the then Secretary General to argue his case so that he can get access to do the course. He recalled ex-president Jammeh telling him: "if you take a fool of yourself to miss this opportunity of yours, you will never get one ever again."

Bajo disclosed that in July 1994, he travelled to the UK with former president Jawara where they spent the holiday; that he further received information from the same Lang Tombong Tamba that there was a coup in the making, but senior officers at state house together with the National Security Services (NSS), were working to remedy the situation. He outlined that upon arrival from the UK with former president Jawara, former president Jammeh was disarmed by NSS guards at the airport; that on the 22nd July 1994, Yahya Jammeh and his disgruntled soldiers decided to stage a coup. He adduced that Lang Tombong Tamba again informed him that the soldiers were around Gambia High School heading to state house.

"I asked Lang Tombong Tamba to make sure that there is no blood bath on the ground," he said. He asserted that former president Jawara asked Lang Tombong about the whereabouts of the then IGP, Pa Sallah Jeng, who was nowhere to be found; that in the US Warship, former president Jawara asked Pa Sallah Jeng to negotiate with the soldiers which did not bear fruit.

"I personally went with Pa Sallah Jeng to join Sir Dawda in the US military warship and we sailed to seek sanctuary in Dakar (Senegal).

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