By Yankuba Jallow
Ex-Lieutenant Lalo K. Jaiteh, an ex-ADC to former President Yahya Jammeh said he heard Jammeh giving orders for the students’ demonstration on April 10, 2000 to be nipped in the bud in any way or form.
He said he was aide-de-camp (ADC) of Jammeh from late 1998 to June 2000 when he was also victimized by his regime.
He said he was the personal military officer to the former president and sometimes, he does protocol functions in the absence of his protocol officer. He told the Commission that he used to go with former President Jammeh wherever he travels.
He said as an ADC to the former President, he was with him in Cuba. The witness said on the 10th April 2000, the Protocol Officer to the former Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy called him and informed him about an ongoing students’ demonstration. He said the protocol officer was one Jobarteh and he was insisting that they want to speak to the President. He added that Jobarteh told him that ex-VP Njie-Saidy wanted to speak to former President Jammeh about the students’ demonstration.
“When I gave him (Jammeh) the phone, I saw him panicked. I heard Yahya Jammeh saying ‘take care of these bastards in whatever way or form,” he said, adding that Jammeh was speaking loud and aggressively.
The witness said during their stay in Cuba, the former domineering head of state was panic, nervous, angry and aggressive.
He said they delayed their flight because they were not sure of the situation in The Gambia and whether they will be attacked upon their arrival. He said they arrived in The Gambia on the 11th or 12th April, and they changed their usual route to go to Banjul and the former President abandoned his vehicle and moved into another vehicle.
“Instead of arriving in the morning, we arrived at night. We used the Coastal Road because we wanted to camouflage the situation,” he said.
He said he was in the President’s vehicle together with Ousman Sonko while Jammeh moved in another vehicle.
He said at the State House, Yahya Jammeh came across an Observer Newspaper publication wherein one Sheikh Louise blamed the Government about the incident of April 10 and 11.
“Yahya Jammeh went through it (the newspaper) quickly and he called Ousman Sonko’s name and asked him to go with those he trusted to eliminate Louis,” he said.
Arrest of Two Soldiers
He said the arrest of late Almamo Manneh and late Landing Sanneh happened in January 2000. He said their arrest came about when ex-Sergeant Ousman Sonko disclosed an audio conversation wherein the two were discussing their planned coup to oust the former autocratic ruler – Yahya Jammeh. He said he listened to the cassette with former President Jammeh in Kanilai. He added that Jammeh asked him to summon cabinet ministers for a meeting. The witness said Sonko was the second in command while Sanneh was the commander at the State House.
The eyewitness said when the ministers began arriving, Jammeh asked him to mobilize soldiers to arrest Manneh and Sanneh in Kombo. He said before they left, former President Jammeh asked him to meet Ousman Sonko for them to coordinate. He said he went with about 2 sections. He said the soldiers he went with included Musa Jammeh alias Maliamong, Buba Jammeh alias Kanilai, Sergeant (now Major) Seedy Jammeh, Ismaila Jammeh, Omar Sonko, two drivers: Alieu Sowe and Lamin Sillah, Bara Mboob, John Mendy and Karim Bah. He said they left Kanilai, the hometown of former President Jammeh with two vehicles.
The witness said they met Ousman Sonko in Jeshwang around the Stink Corner and they proceeded into a bush where they held a discussion on how to go with the arrest. He said Ousman Sonko informed him that he should stay behind with a few men while he proceeds with others to arrest Almamo Manneh. The witness said Sonko told him that this was to avoid a big crowd going to arrest an individual in a public place. He said when Manneh and others left; they came back after an hour or more to the place where they were left waiting. The witness said when he asked about Almamo, Sonko told him that he has been killed and put in the car booth.
“When I opened the car boot, I saw the corpse of Almamo there,” he said.
He said when he asked Sonko why he was brought death, he was told that Manneh refused arrest and he was firing at them and when they retaliated, he was killed.
He said Sonko again told him to wait for them while they go and get Landing Sanneh but this time, he said he wouldn’t wait for them. He said when he told Sonko that he won’t wait for them, Sonko agreed for him to join the group to go and arrest Sanneh.
The witness said when they reached Sanneh’s home, they found he had already locked his door and was communicating on his telephone asking about Almamo because someone had already informed him about their coming.
“I connected the grenade at Sanneh’s door and when it exploded, Sanneh shouted and handed himself to us,” he said.
He told the Commission that Sanneh was beaten by the soldiers standing at the door.
“When I saw they were beating Landing Sanneh, I shouted from the back and told them to stop beating him,” he said, adding that Sanneh was taken to where Sonko and a few soldiers were waiting.
He said Sanneh was put in the vehicle where Musa Jammeh was and he was taken to the Yundum Barracks where he was detained.
He said from the Yundum Barracks, they proceeded to Banjul to collect official documents from the State House for former President Yahya Jammeh. He said on their way to Banjul, Ousman Sonko’s car turned towards Bond-Road and he followed them. He said Sonko bent down and picked a pistol. He said it was where Sonko told him that it was the point they killed Almamo Manneh. He said Sonko told him that Manneh was running away from arrest and he was shot by the soldiers.
The witness said former President Yahya Jammeh was in the picture of whatever was happening because he had communicated with Ousman Sonko as to what should be done.
He said the following morning when he explained how things went in the mission, former President Jammeh said that was a price to any person who wants to do a coup d’état.
“He (Yahya Jammeh) was not regretful,” Jaiteh said.
The witness told the Commission that in June the same year, he was also victimized. He said he was told that he was transferred to the army headquarters. At this juncture, technical problem erupted as a result of power supply at the Commission and the sittings was adjourned.
He will be coming on Monday to complete his testimony and to give his concluding remarks. He said he was born on the 15th September 1974 in Badibou Suwareh Kunda and he currently resides in Switzerland.
TRRC will resume sittings on Monday, 30th September 2019 at 10 am.