Gambia’s Truth Commission which began hearing on January 7 has so far heard testimonies from 23 witnesses.
Demba Njie, the chief of staff and heard of State Guard under Yahya Jammeh in the immediate aftermath of the coup said the former dictator ordered the killings of close to two dozen soldiers on November 11, 1994.
The military leaders who overthrew the country’s first president Dawda Jawara under the leadership of Yahya Jammeh fell out with their colleagues after the coup.
Testimonies before the Commission indicated that the soldiers from mainly Fajara and Yundum Barracks led by Basiru Barrow were angered by the betrayal of the agenda of the coup by the junta.
Sait Darboe, a private soldier who testified before the Commission, said they were disappointed because the junta had failed to fulfill the changes they promised to them if the coup succeeded.
This anger was what precipitated the November 11 planned coup.
But though there was a planned coup, witnesses before the Commission have indicated that the junta, after learning about the coup, have arrested and summarily executed the coup leaders.
This nullified the narrative by the junta that the soldiers have died in a firefight. Several witnesses have narrated various harrowing accounts of how the soldiers were killed including stabbing them with a bayonet.
Previous testimonies were that the killings were supervised by Sanna Sabally and largely led by Edward Singhateh, a man many have come to describe as a “sadist”.
“I heard Yahya Jammeh said “kill them all, the ring leaders”. That I did not forget. I realized that they have arrested some people and they were going to kill them,” said Njie, crying.
“This was the first time I have heard of an instruction to kill.”
Njie said at this time they were seated in the same room with Jammeh but on a separate couch with about 3 meter distance.
This was at 6 a.m. on November 11. He said later in the day, at about 11 a.m. other members of the junta joined Jammeh at State House.
Both them and Jammeh in a victory celebration mood. “They came brandishing their arms in a jubilant mood,” said Njie.
November 11 is remembered in the history of the Gambia as the darkest day for the military of the country.