Sait Darboe, the 20th witness before the Truth Commission on Thursday, said the killed soldier Basiru Barrow was chosen to be the leader of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council after the coup but he said he could not do it. Barrow said he cannot speak in public and from there then Sanna Sabally chose Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh.
Sait Darboe, the 20th witness before the Truth Commission, has reiterated a statement by an anonymous witness before the Commission that President Adama Barrow’s security adviser was present at the Lance Corporal Lamin Bojang Firing Range while soldiers were being executed.
The Commission’s seventh witness who testified in January said Momodou Badgie, the current security adviser to Barrow who is in charge of the security sector reforms was present while soldiers were killed.
Badgie has denied this when it was first mentioned before the Commission in January saying Basiru Barrow was his friend.
“Lieutenant Colonel Momodou Badgie and Colonel Babucarr Jatta… were there and they did nothing to stop it,” said Darboe. Colonel Jatta was the army chief of defense staff at the time of the execution.
Darboe said Badgie was not at the Yundum Barracks but he was present at the firing range.
He said the people present were Yunkuba Touray, Sanna Sabally, Edward Singhateh, Peter Singhateh, Sadibu Hydara, Momodou Badgie and Babucarr Jatta.
“I cannot trust this man (Momodou Badgie),” said Darboe.
Darboe said the batch of soldiers who were taken to the firing range at Brikama were butchered. He said they killed them at the range with a bayonet.
“Soldiers were put in a green land rover and taken to Brikama Firing Range,: said Darboe.
“They were butchered man… They killed them nastily. I saw dead bodies and they were killed with bayonets.”
Darboe confirmed previous testimonies before the Commission that the soldiers were killed at Yundum Barracks, firing range and at Fajara Barracks. He did said they were buried at a place in Yundum Barracks.
‘Junta betrayed us’
A private soldier involved in the 1994 coup, Darboe said soldiers planned a counter-coup on November 11 because the junta has betrayed the agenda of the takeover.
“I would say they failed us. I remembered Edwrad Singhateh told us that we were going to be promoted and we will have a plot of land,” said Darboe.
“And nothing has been done. We got frustrated. We were the men who fought for them… Those who supported the coup were not up to forty soldiers. Most of us were junior soldiers.”
On November 11, close to two dozen Gambian soldiers were summarily executed for being part of a coup that never was.
Various testimonies before the Truth Commission did confirmed that there was a planned coup but there was no attack. The junta learned of the coup in advance and attacked both Yundum and Fajara Barracks, killing defenseless soldiers.
Sait Darboe was a member of Eco Company at Yundum Barracks and among junior soldiers recruited by the junta for the coup. Following the coup, he has briefly served as part of a security detail for the Council chairman Yahya Jammeh.
Darboe said the coup was first planned for July 21 but that could not happened because Jammeh and Edward, who were at the airport, were disarmed.
He said Sanna Sabally was at the time at the Yundum Barracks heavily armed with his men to come and capture the airport.
This should have been after Edward put former President Dawda Jawara at a gun point upon landing at the airport for Jammeh to announce the coup.
“RSM Jeng came to the airport and check our weapons… Edward and Jammeh were armed with pistol and they were disarmed,” said Darboe.
Darboe said after this first plan failed they planned another attack on July 22. The soldiers retreated to Yundum and planned an offensive on Banjul. The plans were to capture Yundum Barracks, Fajara Barracks, Banjul International Airport, destroy Gamtel communications and finally take over State House.
Darboe said the coup makers were armed and ready to die. He said he had a Rocket Propel Grenade and a klasnikof with several rounds.
Darboe was part of the team that was assigned to control Fajara Barracks under the leadership of Sanna Sabally.
Upon arrival at Fajara, he said they only encountered light resistance from the soldiers and in about 15 minutes the camp had fallen and they took control of the armory.
“On July 22, we were ready for State House or grave… We were soldiers. We are trained to fight. We are not trained to arrest,” said Darboe.