Friday, October 18, 2019

“Minister Badjie Was Standing When Students Were Shot”

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By Yankuba Jallow

Erstwhile army chief of staff Baboucar Jatta Wednesday told the TRRC that at the time the students were shot at Westfield during the April 2000 countrywide students’ demonstration, ex-Minister of Interior Ousman Badjie was there.

Jatta appeared before the Truth Commission (TRRC) on Wednesday for the second time to shed light as to his participation and what he knew about the happenings on the 10thand 11th April 2000 mass demonstration by students.

He said Minister Jatta was standing together with then Deputy Inspector General of Police at Westfield when students were gun down by personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).

These students took the street demanding for justice for their two colleagues; Ebrima Barry and Binta Manneh. Barry was allegedly killed by personnel of the fire and rescue services while Manneh was allegedly raped by personnel of the PIU.
About the Students’ Demonstration

Jatta said the day before 10th April 2000 he had no clue of any planned demonstration. He said in the night of the 9th April, he was called by the Inspector General of Police who informed him about a planned students’ demonstration and their planned Security Council meeting may not hold. He said the Security Council meeting was slated to be held on the 10th April and it was the same day the students embarked on the demonstration.

He said on the 10th April 2000, while he was on his way to Banjul for the National Security Council (NSC) meeting, he met one Sowe, the Police Commissioner responsible for operation with some personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).

He said on that day, the students were supposed to meet the NSC at the Office of the Vice President. He said while standing at GTTI, the former Interior Minister Ousman Badjie came and a few moments later, the police started firing tear gas. He said he proceeded to Banjul and called the senior military officers and informed them about the planned demonstration as well as ordered them to avoid Westfield. He added that the students were running in different directions because the situation was chaotic.

He said those he called were Captain Vincent Jatta the Commanding Officer of the Yundum Barracks, Captain Baboucar Keita Commanding Officer of the Farafenni Barracks, Captain Cherno Jallow of the Fajara Barracks, Ousman Sonko the then State Guard Commander and the Navy.

“I warned all of them to avoid Westfield as much as possible,” he said.

He said during those time, he has command over all except the State Guard adding that the State Guard commander used to get his operational instructions from the State House. He said he was supposed to appoint the State Guard commander, but President Jammeh was making the appointments.

He said he went back to Banjul where he met, Minister Ousman Badjie, Baboucar Sowe the Operations Commander, the Assistant IGP Sankung Badjie, Baba Jobe and one 13 Badjie. He added that Baba Jobe was armed with a pistol.

He said the student crowd was about 5000 and there were less police at Westfield. He said there was no firing of guns and there was no releasing of tear gas. He said the situation was calm and he spoke to the students. He said he was told that there was a large crowd of students in Dippa Kunda. He said he drove with then Minister of Interior Badjie.

He said the Minister addressed the students and they were appreciative of his statement until a point when he warned them that the country is governed by law and the students should follow due procedure.

“This statement was not received well and stones started coming towards us from the students and I I retreated to a veranda. The Minister commanded my driver and they drove away,” Jatta said.

He said there came a time the students stopped stoning them and they called him to come out.

“When I came out, they provided me with security and we marched to Westfield,” he said.

Jatta said on his way to Westfield, he met a group of Students who informed them that soldiers were shooting their colleagues (students) at Westfield. He said around the PIU Headquarters, he saw them moving and forming a line. He said immediately the PIU started firing, he quickly laid on the floor with his orderly while the PIU were firing at the students using AK47.

“I crawled to get to around the gutter and the PIU came passed me and I heard them saying “Sergeant Jawo stop” ‘sergeant Jawo stop,” he said.

He said the PIU were firing live rounds. He said the Minister of Interior and the then Deputy IGP were both there, but they did nothing to stop the firing.

“I did not order the PIU to fire,” he said.

He said he saw some students lying death and he proceeded to his office in Banjul.
He said the Vice President ordered him to deploy his men (soldiers) to quell the demonstration by all means. He said his men went with blank ammunition. He said at the Vice President’s Office, he spoke to Yahya Jammeh the former head of state who was inquiring whether he was injured because he was told that at the time of the shooting, he was in the crowd of students.

He said he deployed 60 men from the 1 Infantry Battalion to Westfield while a platoon in Fajara Barracks was waiting in case Banjul also face the same issues.

He said his younger sister was beaten around the Kotu Power Station by recruits who were sent to chase the student demonstrators.
“Minister Badjie was standing when students were shot”
By Yankuba Jallow
Erstwhile army chief of staff Baboucar Jatta Wednesday told the TRRC that at the time the students were shot at Westfield during the April 2000 countrywide students’ demonstration, ex-Minister of Interior Ousman Badjie was there.
Jatta appeared before the Truth Commission (TRRC) on Wednesday for the second time to shed light as to his participation and what he knew about the happenings on the 10thand 11th April 2000 mass demonstration by students.
He said Minister Jatta was standing together with then Deputy Inspector General of Police at Westfield when students were gun down by personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).
These students took the street demanding for justice for their two colleagues; Ebrima Barry and Binta Manneh. Barry was allegedly killed by personnel of the fire and rescue services while Manneh was allegedly raped by personnel of the PIU.
About the Students’ Demonstration

Jatta said the day before 10th April 2000 he had no clue of any planned demonstration. He said in the night of the 9th April, he was called by the Inspector General of Police who informed him about a planned students’ demonstration and their planned Security Council meeting may not hold. He said the Security Council meeting was slated to be held on the 10th April and it was the same day the students embarked on the demonstration.

He said on the 10th April 2000, while he was on his way to Banjul for the National Security Council (NSC) meeting, he met one Sowe, the Police Commissioner responsible for operation with some personnel of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).

He said on that day, the students were supposed to meet the NSC at the Office of the Vice President. He said while standing at GTTI, the former Interior Minister Ousman Badjie came and a few moments later, the police started firing tear gas. He said he proceeded to Banjul and called the senior military officers and informed them about the planned demonstration as well as ordered them to avoid Westfield. He added that the students were running in different directions because the situation was chaotic.

He said those he called were Captain Vincent Jatta the Commanding Officer of the Yundum Barracks, Captain Baboucar Keita Commanding Officer of the Farafenni Barracks, Captain Cherno Jallow of the Fajara Barracks, Ousman Sonko the then State Guard Commander and the Navy.

“I warned all of them to avoid Westfield as much as possible,” he said.

He said during those time, he has command over all except the State Guard adding that the State Guard commander used to get his operational instructions from the State House. He said he was supposed to appoint the State Guard commander, but President Jammeh was making the appointments.

He said he went back to Banjul where he met, Minister Ousman Badjie, Baboucar Sowe the Operations Commander, the Assistant IGP Sankung Badjie, Baba Jobe and one 13 Badjie. He added that Baba Jobe was armed with a pistol.

He said the student crowd was about 5000 and there were less police at Westfield. He said there was no firing of guns and there was no releasing of tear gas. He said the situation was calm and he spoke to the students. He said he was told that there was a large crowd of students in Dippa Kunda. He said he drove with then Minister of Interior Badjie.

He said the Minister addressed the students and they were appreciative of his statement until a point when he warned them that the country is governed by law and the students should follow due procedure.

“This statement was not received well and stones started coming towards us from the students and I I retreated to a veranda. The Minister commanded my driver and they drove away,” Jatta said.

He said there came a time the students stopped stoning them and they called him to come out.

“When I came out, they provided me with security and we marched to Westfield,” he said.

Jatta said on his way to Westfield, he met a group of Students who informed them that soldiers were shooting their colleagues (students) at Westfield. He said around the PIU Headquarters, he saw them moving and forming a line. He said immediately the PIU started firing, he quickly laid on the floor with his orderly while the PIU were firing at the students using AK47.

“I crawled to get to around the gutter and the PIU came passed me and I heard them saying “Sergeant Jawo stop” ‘sergeant Jawo stop,” he said.

He said the PIU were firing live rounds. He said the Minister of Interior and the then Deputy IGP were both there, but they did nothing to stop the firing.

“I did not order the PIU to fire,” he said.

He said he saw some students lying death and he proceeded to his office in Banjul.
He said the Vice President ordered him to deploy his men (soldiers) to quell the demonstration by all means. He said his men went with blank ammunition. He said at the Vice President’s Office, he spoke to Yahya Jammeh the former head of state who was inquiring whether he was injured because he was told that at the time of the shooting, he was in the crowd of students.

He said he deployed 60 men from the 1 Infantry Battalion to Westfield while a platoon in Fajara Barracks was waiting in case Banjul also face the same issues.

He said his younger sister was beaten around the Kotu Power Station by recruits who were sent to chase the student demonstrators.

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