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“I was At Home With My Family” Corporal Sannoh Denies Attending Alleged Coup Meeting

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Alleged Coup Plotters At The High Court.

By Landing Ceesay  

Corporal Ebrima Sannoh, the third accused in the alleged coup trial before Justice B.V.P. Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia, has denied attending any meeting to discuss a coup.

Corporal Sannoh testified in court that he joined the Gambia Armed Forces in 2009. He said that he has been on study leave since 2021. In the military, when you are on study leave, which exempts him from all military activities. He was still on study leave at the University of the Gambia until his arrest and detention on December 20, 2022.

“I am on full study leave from the Gambia Army. Someone who is on study leave, you are exempted from all military functions as a student. You don’t even wear a uniform when you are on study leave in the military,” he told the court. Corporal Sannoh was asked when he joined the University of the Gambia. He replied that he was enrolled in 2020 and was granted study leave in 2021. Prior to receiving study leave, he was performing military duties while attending school. He also testified that he was stationed at Fajara Barracks, but he has not been to the barracks since he received his study leave in 2021.

Corporal Sannoh testified that when on study leave, one does not have command authority and cannot mobilize soldiers.

Corporal Sannoh then explained how he was arrested and what happened while in detention. 

“This was on Tuesday, I had a course to attend from 11 to 1 pm at UTG. After which I was going home, my phone rang and I received the call. The person identifies himself as Major Morro Sanneh.  He asked me where are you, Sannoh. I told him where I was, and he told me that they had a letter from the defense headquarters I was supposed to collect. I took a vehicle and alighted at 1st Infantry Gate, then I went straight to the reception. I asked for the letter. The clerk told me that Sannoh, we don’t have anything for you. 

“I decided to call Major Morro Sanneh. He asked me to go to his office. I went to his office and he told me that Sannoh I missed seeing you. I heard that you are going to UTG, and he is also doing Public Administration at UTG, but is hard to see me. He asked me to sit down and wait for him because they had received a complaint against me. Before he left, he effected an arrest on me, and I was arrested. My phones were seized, and my school bag together with my books were all taken away from me,” he told the court. Corporal Sannoh told the court that he was not informed of the reason for his arrest until January 4, 2023. On that day, he was taken to the SIS headquarters and faced a panel. The panel told him that he knew about a coup, but Sannoh said that he had never heard of any coup and that he was hearing about it for the first time from them.

“They (the panel) told me to write a statement. I asked them what am I going to write because I know nothing about these allegations. That is the time they instructed Sanusi Darboe to obtain my statement. I told them that I will not write anything until the matter is taken to court,” Corporal Sannoh testified. Corporal Sannoh testified that he knew Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera from their time at the Army Training School, where they were intake mates. However, he clarified that they never served in the same unit, as he is a military officer in the army, while Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera is a sailor in the navy.Corporal Sannoh testified in court that he did not know the 2nd and 5th accused persons until he was arrested. He also said that he had never met Mustapha Jabbie (PW4) before the day he testified in court. However, PW4 testified that he picked up Corporal Sannoh at Jah Oil in Brikama on December 18, 2022, and they traveled to Kafuta for a meeting. Corporal Sannoh denied this, saying that he never traveled outside Brikama on that day.

“That is not true, I never make a Journey with anyone on that particular day. I was at home with my family. I never traveled outside Brikama. Aside from this honorable court, I did not travel outside Brikama. So I deny that allegation in totality. I am not aware of any meeting and I never took part in any meeting. I was at home with my family and I never traveled outside Brikama,” he testified. Corporal Sannoh testified that on December 18, 2022, he was busy preparing for his upcoming school exams. He confirmed that he knew Sergeant Karamo Jatta (PW7) as an instructor during his recruitment training at Army Training School. However, he later heard that Sergeant Jatta had been dismissed from the Army, and he had not seen or heard from him since.

Sergeant Karamo Jatta testified in court that Corporal Sannoh is referred to as “Sannoh E” in the Army. However, Corporal Sannoh denied this, stating that he is only called Ebrima Sannoh, his full name, in the Army.

“Sergeant Karamo Jatta told this honorable court that during the alleged meeting you were given a blue book to take minutes, and you were termed as the spokesperson,” Counsel Junkung Jobarteh asked. 

“I denied that allegation, no one ever gave me a book or chose me as a PRO. As I said before this honorable court, I never travel outside Brikama on the 18th of December 2022. I spent the whole day with my family on that day,” Corporal Sannoh responded. 

Corporal Sannoh testified that he did not contact or call any of the accused persons on December 18, 2022. He was presented with exhibits P9 and P10, which are call recordings from Africell, to verify his claim. After reviewing the lists, Corporal Sannoh confirmed to the court that his number, 9×××××××, did not appear on either exhibit P9 or P10.

On Jali M.I Senghore’s testimony that the number retrieved from him was 7××××××××, Corporal Sannoh told the court he doesn’t remember having a telephone number like that. 

On whether he interacted with Jali M.I Senghore as a panel member, Corporal Sannoh responded in the negative. 

“Senghore never appeared before the panel while I was there. The only time I saw him was when I was going with Sanusi Darboe to obtain my statements, that’s the time I saw him coming with Petty Officer Gibril Darboe (2nd accused). Corporal Sannoh testified in court that he had never conspired with the first accused, Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera, to overthrow the government of The Gambia. He also stated that he had never been informed of any coup plot by anyone.

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