By Yankuba Jallow
Former Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Gambia National Army (GNA) Baboucar Malick Jeng, on Wednesday February 20th 2019, explained what he had witnessed during the November 1994 massacre of security personnel by the AFPRC junta members and their enablers.
RSM Jeng said Basirou Barrow, Bakary Manneh and others were executed by the former AFPRC members in cold blood and in the most cruel and horrendous manner; that the others rest were executed by other soldiers under the command of the junta members at other locations.
In his narration, RSM Jeng said the executed officers were, Lieutenant Basirou Barrow, “Dot” Faal, Lieutenant Bakary Manneh, Cadet Amadou Sillah, Lieutenant Abdoulie Bah, Sergeant E M Ceeesay, Sergeant Fafa Nyang, Alieu Bah and Lamarana Jalow, among others.
He said Lieutenant Barrow was shot in the head by Edward Singhateh at the Fajara Barracks, while “Dot” Faal was executed at the Yundum barracks by a volley of shots. He said Sergeant EM Ceesay was stripped naked and shot with a hail of bullets; that before he was brutally executed, Sergeant Ceesay appealed to his executors to allow him say his last prayers which he did in a hail of bullets; that the rest of the other officers, were taken to the firing range at Brikama and were executed at the command of Edward Singhateh, Peter Singhateh, Lamin Fatty, and other senior officers. The former RSM put forward that the execution was ordered by Sana Sabally who was a madcap soldier.
About the Coup:
Whilst making unnerving revelations before the TRRC about the July 22nd 1994 Coup, RSM Jeng said the coup makers wanted to execute President Jawara and his entire cabinet. Jeng recollected that live ammunition was loaded on trucks by the coup makers, with the sole aim of executing ex-President Sir Dawda K. Jawara and his entire cabinet at the Banjul International Airport on 21st July 1994; that the execution was pre-arranged to be likened to that done by the late Samuel Dow in Liberia. According to the former RSM, the entire aircraft was supposed to be bombarded in the air, before it lands at the airport; that this was the plan of the soldiers.
Simulating his recollection on his arrest and detention, RSM Jeng said he was escorted to Colonel Ndure Cham who at the time, was a Captain.
His Arrest and Detention:
At the Mile II Prisons, the former RSM said they were not screened; that they found nobody at the prison gate except soldiers and subsequently they were escorted to security wing number one, but no reason was given for their arrest and detention.
“I was placed in a 3 by 3 meter cell with a sealed door and was completely shut down for weeks before I had access to people and shower. During my detention, I was in solitary confinement. I had no choice in terms of food. It was Yankuba Touray who kept denying my family to see me anytime they requested, despite all efforts they made. It was Yankuba Touray again who advised the junta not to allow me attend the burial of my daughter, who died while I was in detention,” the emotional former RSM told commissioners, while describing the impact of his detention on his family, especially on his daughter, who he said made all efforts in vain to see him before she died.
Drawing the attention of the commission to his service, he averred that his service was terminated; but that to him, he is still an RSM because the person whom he said wrote his termination letter, does not have the mandate to terminate his service.
His Recommendations For the Way Forward:
At the end of his testimony, former RSM Jeng appealed to President Barrow to fulfil the promise he made to the Army, during the 2016 political impasse; that the president promised to look into the welfare of soldiers, their salaries and allowances. He appealed to the president to fulfil his promise, to avoid a reoccurrence of anarchy in the country by disgruntled soldiers.
He suggested for the president to make a surprise visit to the barracks to have first-hand contact with soldiers, in order to have first-hand information about their condition, and to help them improve their condition and welfare.
The former RSM called for the restructuring of the army, suggesting that President Barrow should be strong and decisive by providing them training and other facilities. He took time to advise his fellow officers for what he called “the time for the Army to give back to the country”.
Sittings continue today at 10 am.