By Yankuba Jallow
Malick Jatta, a former member of late Tumbul Tamba’s patrol team has made several confessions before the TRRC including participating in the murder of Deyda Hydara, a co-proprietor of The Point Newspaper.
He said their patrol team compose; late Tumbul Tamba as the commander, Sanna Manjang as second in command, himself (Malick Jatta) and Alieu Jeng. He added that Solo Bojang used to join them in their operations and assumed second in command role. He said there were other patrol teams but theirs was called the ‘black-black’.
“From the black-blank, it was later called the black scorpions and later called as junglers,” he said
He said the junglers were trained by the then Italy instructor called Francis Cacasco. He said the junglers were also responsible for border patrol.
“I was not trained as a jungler,” he said, adding that they were responsible for carrying out executions.
Who was Tumbul taking orders from? Asked the Commission’s Lead Counsel.
“Looking at the chain of command, Tumbul Tamba would not be mad to do some of the operations we were doing without getting orders from the commander in chief. So the orders were coming from the commander in chief directly,” the witness replied.
On the murder of Deyda Hydara, Jatta said this was in 2004 when Tumbul Tamba told them they were going for a ‘magic-pen’. He said this time it was himself, Tumbul Tamba, Alieu Jeng and Sanna Manajang. He said they boarded a taxi and Tumbul Tamba was the driver. He said the taxi they boarded used to pack at the Yahya Jammeh’s former garage in Kanifing. He said they drove along the Kairaba Avenue and went towards the Traffic Light. He added that Tumbul was communicating to the former President, Yahya Jammeh.
He said on that trip, there were order commercial taxis that soldiers filled for the operation. He said he saw Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier and Malafi Corr each driving a commercial taxi. He added that all the taxis were having soldiers.
“Tumbul Tamba was coordinating with the other taxis,” he said.
He said one of the taxis used the Stadium route and the other used the Bakau highway while Tumbul used the Stadium highway. He gave a detailed narration of their route until they reached the Police Intervention Unit headquarters around Westfiled/Jimpex area. He said they passed the Police Mobile Unit heading towards the police garage.
“When we came near a vehicle, he (Tumbul) announced that the driver is the idiot,” he said.
He said they shot without knowing the person they were shooting, adding that their thought was the person they were shooting was part of the rebels.
“Myself, Jeng and Manjang shot, but Tumbul did not fire because he was the commander giving the orders,” he said.
He said after killing the man, Tumbul drove them to Kanilai without uttering any word. He added that the following day, the members of the patrol team including himself were given money in dollars amounting to more than fifty thousand dalasis (D50,000). He said after receiving the money, he came to Kombo and got the news of the killing of Dayda Hydara.
“When I heard the news, I was panic even though the former President condemned the killing of Dayda Hydara,” he said.
He said his commander, Major Khalifa Bajinka was aware of the mission of the killing of Deyda Hydara.
“When I told him good morning Sir, he told me how was your mission? And I told him ‘accomplished sir” he said.
He said he stressed to commander Bajinka that he must remove him from the patrol unit, or else he will remove himself. He added that Major Bajinka was reluctant to remove him from the patrol unit.
He told the TRRC that he was used in the killing of a person (Deyda Hydara) who he never knew before.
He said he was part of the Libyan trained commandos and after their training with the Libyan instructors; they were all deployed to Kanilai where they spent 9 months. He said after their stay in Kanilai, he returned to the State Guard as a rifleman. He said he was later deployed to Kanilai to the patrol team under the late Tumbul Tamba.
“The role defined to us on arrival in Kanilai, was that our duty was to protect the borderline and the Gambian people from the rebels in Cassamance.”
He said later, their commanding officer, Tamba told them that they should not forget their oath of secrecy and allegiance.
“I realized that there was something,” he said.
He said in the army, secrecy means whatever happens in the field stays there.
“My consent to join the army was not what I was put into,” he said.
He said: ‘The command used to put us into situations where you as a subordinate will know what they are saying is not true (right).”
A soldier owes loyalty to the ideals of the nation, army, commander in chief and the unit you are serving, he said.
He said the orders were coming directly from Yahya Jammeh adding that Tumbul Tamba was reporting directly to the ex-president.
He while in Kanilai, they were instructed to stop the rebellion that was ‘cooking up’ in the country.
“This was a tactic that they used to make us believe that these people were rebels and they were going to carry out insurgency,” he said.
He said whatever they did was under the command of Tumbul Tamba and he will be present. He said Tumbul instructed them that there were some people who weren’t grateful to Yahya Jammeh after he had given them amnesty to come back to the country and they want to carry out insurgency. He said whenever Tumbul Tamba uses his personal vehicle, ‘I will know that something abnormal will happen.’
He said the patrol team went together with Tumbul Tamba to find out those planning to carry out the insurgency. He said they murdered a young man named Dawda Nyassi who was apprehended and put into Tumbul Tamba’s vehicle and taken around Bafuloto area.
“All four of us fire at this gentleman. Tumbul Tamba ordered that we board the vehicle and left for Kanilai leaving the body unattended,” he said.
He said Tamba told them that Dawda Nyassi was part of the rebellion.
In their second mission, he said the patrol team had Solo Bojang, himself, Tumbul Tamba, Alieu Jeng and Sanna Manajang. He said Tumbul Tamba called them for a patrol and they left Kanilai and used the trans-Gambia highway coming towards Kombo. He said while in the vehicle, he saw Sanna Manajang with an identified man who he took in the bush and shot.
“When I asked Tumbul who that man was, he said the man was Ndongo Mboob,” the witness said.
He said he joined the Gambia National Army on 1st May 1996. He said he underwent recruitment and he was posted at the 1st Infantry Battalion in Yundum. He said he did his junior officer training school at the Gambia Army Training School, adding that he had undergone a commando training. He said after the training, he was deployed to the State Guard. He said he was a commando instructor at the training school. He said the State Guard was a battalion responsible for the protection of the president and his family and in addition, they used to mount duty posts from Kombo to Kanilai.