By Yankuba Jallow / Momodou Jarju
Ensa Mendy, a soldier of the Gambia Armed Forces, has admitted to have participated in foiling the 11th November 1994 coup, and in the torturing of Lieutenant Abdoulie ‘Dot’ Faal and other soldiers. Mendy made this and other remarks before Commissioners of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday March 28th 2019.
About the Witness
Ensa Mendy said he was born on the 25th December 1969 in Brikama; that in 1988, he was employed as an unqualified teacher by the Roman Catholic Mission until 1990, when he went for the Gambia National Army selection; that after his training, he was deployed to the Yundum Barracks under the Delta Company.
Mendy narrated that in August 1994, he was deployed to the Department of State of Local Government and Lands as an orderly to Lieutenant Yankuba Touray, who was the Secretary of State of that Department; that he was identified by Lieutenant Basiru Barrow, to become an orderly to Lieutenant Touray.
About the November 11 Incident
Mendy said there was rumour of a coup and that one Almamo Manneh, a soldier attached to State House, issued them with new weapons. He said Almamo briefed them that they should counter the coup makers; that he joined a group of about 30 men headed by the members of the AFPRC. He said the junta members in the group were Lieutenant Sanna Sabally, Lieutenant Yankuba Touray, Lieutenant Sadibou Hydara, Lieutenant Edward Singhateh and Lieutenant Peter Singhateh; that they occupied Yundum Barracks without any resistance from the soldiers. He explained that they entered through the back gate and met the soldiers having their dinner.
“We occupied the camp without any resistance. We took charge of the guard room,” the witness said; that around 1 am of the 11th of November 1994, Lieutenant Basiru Barrow was caught by Corporal Malafi Corr and his men. He said Corr was a State Guard soldier and started his command with the words: “Ahuwa!”; that Lieutenant Basirou Barrow replied: “Ahuwa. Let us go and ….. those ………”
The witness said this was the time Corr and his men arrested Barrow, striped and removed all the jujus he wore; that Lieutenant Sanna Sabally ordered that Barrow be taken to the cell.
“The people were scrambling to get Lieutenant Barrow at the time they were removing his jujus on his body. He was mercilessly beaten and taken to the cells,” the witness said.
He said other soldiers arrested at the Yundum Barracks included ‘Dot’ Faal. “He (‘Dot’ Faal) was also beaten. He did not enter (the camp) because he was apprehended at the Sentry,” the witness said.
“We (the orderlies) collectively beat ‘Dot’ Faal mercilessly,” the witness said; that after some hours, Lieutenant Sanna Sabally ordered for them to go to the Fajara Barracks.
“Sanna Sabally was the Senior Council Member and leader,” he said. He said at the Fajara Barracks, they received resistance from those at the Barracks at the time.
“They were firing at us and we fired back. We asked the junior soldiers to join us and they joined. The senior non-commissioned officers were arrested,” he said; that later, Sanna Sabally paraded them at the football field of the Barracks and ordered that they shoot them, the captured soldiers.
“We responded by shooting them. Two soldiers fell down and the rest continued running. All the Council members fired their shots along with us. We left the bodies of the fallen soldiers at the field,” the witness said.
He said after the firing, Sanna Sabally led to them to Yundum Barracks. He explained that Sergeant Fafa Nyang was brought out by Corporal Alagie Kanyi and Lance Corporal Baboucar Ndour.
“Fafa Nyang swore that he was not part of the coup plot but Sanna Sabally ordered for him to be taken away and shot. Fafa was shot in the stomach and his intestines were out and it was this time when Lamin Colley shot him on his head,” the witness said.
He said the shot was not an accidental shot because a well-trained military man knows that each gun has a safety-catch. “The proposition of an accidental discharge made by Lamin Colley, is fallacy,” the witness said. He said he did not participate in the burial of the murdered soldiers.
“Fafa Nyang was my immediate boss. He was my Section Commander at the Farafenni Army Training School. I cried after he was killed,” the witness said. He said they left for the State House and were jubilating for successfully foiling the attempted coup; that when they left the State House, he went with Lieutenant Yankuba Touray to his residence and later in the day, went for weekends.
He denied taking part in the execution of soldiers and officers at the firing range around the Nyambai Forest, stating the allegation is not true. “From Yankuba Touray’s house, I went home,” the witness said. He said the announcement Lieutenant Sanna Sabally made at Radio Gambia, was not true.
About the Murder of Koro Ceesay
The witness said the murder of Koro Ceesay, an ex-Secretary of State of Finance during the reign of the defunct AFPRC government, happened the same day the Chairman of the AFPRC Yahya AJJ Jammeh, was leaving for the AU-Summit; that after the Chairman Jammeh left, Lieutenant Yankuba Touray asked him to use his personal car with his driver to go home, whilst he joined the vehicle of one of the Council members to go home. “This was not usual,” the witness said; that later Yankuba Touray called him to go to the beachside to apprehend a canoe that was coming. He said he went with a group of five and they were all armed and in military uniform; that later, Yankuba Touray called them to come back; that when they came back, they met the house dirtied with mud and saw the Uniform of Yankuba Touray burnt and having mud. He said later he heard that Koro Ceesay was murdered.
“I suspected that Yankuba Touray participated in the murder of Koro Ceesay because it happened in his house,” the witness said.