A protected witness at the Truth Commission said former president Yahya Jammeh was part of the July 21 attempted coup but was invited into the July 22 coup. It was already when soldiers were heading for Banjul that Jammeh was aware of their moves and joined.
A protected witness before the Truth Commission on Thursday has revealed that former president Yahya Jammeh and his collaborators have planned to detain country’s first ruler Dawda Kairaba Jawara on July 21, a day he arrived from United Kingdom.
The witness who was speaking behind the glass with a disguised voice said that plan failed after Jammeh and his men were arrested, disarmed and asked to return to the barracks.
The witness however said it was not clear to him or her where Jawara would have been detained. The military whose plans for July 21 failed had held a meeting that night and planned for July 22, said the witness.
Though the witness does not reveal names of people at certain points to protect his or her identity, the witness said they have instructed one person among them to go to Yundum barracks on July 22 and break the armory and hide some weapons at the orchard of the barracks.
The soldier was also asked to mobilise support for the coup among the young soldiers and detain some senior men who do not agree with it.
The witness said the orders were carried out and on July 22 morning, the barracks was flooded with guns and soldiers were taking them at will.
After that brief chaotic episode in the morning, the witness said, soldiers went to the road to seize any car they could set their eyes on.
“When I went to the barracks in the morning of July 22, there was total chaos,” the witness said.
“I also went and take my weapon and ammunitions that I can carry. Soldiers were jubilating and they went to the road… They were seizing vehicles, any vehicle they can set their eyes on… At that time, we started driving towards Banjul… Some soldiers went to the patrol station without even knowing whether their car takes patrol or diesel and fill the car.”
Meanwhile, the witness said some senior soldiers in the Gambian army were not happy with the presence of Nigerian soldiers in the country.
He said because the Nigerians have taken the command from the Gambian soldiers, the senior officers were not happy.
He also said the Gambian soldiers who have come from Liberia on a peace enforcement mission were not happy for delay and sometimes non-payment of their allowances.
“The soldiers were forced to sign some documents showing they have borrowed some dollars and they were asking for those dollars to be given to them when they came back…,” the witness added.
The witness further revealed that meetings among soldiers for a planned coup have begun after a training with Nigerians in Kudang.
He said at that training, the meetings were attended by soldiers including Edward Singhateh, Peter Singhateh, Yankuba Touray, Sadibou Hydara, Sanna Sabally and Yahya Jammeh.
The witness said at the time of those meetings, the military men were in a lose group without a leader.
The witness said at those meetings in Kudang, Basiru Barrow was the most senior person.