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Truth Commission: Witnesses debate “influence” of foreign troops in 1994 coup

Gambia's former President Yahya Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea
Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea

Two key witnesses before the Commission of inquiry in the human rights violations of the former dictator Yahya Jammeh have hold differing opinions on how Nigerians who were in the Gambia during the coup may have played a role in it.

The first Commission witness who described Nigeria as a place that experience several coups, said the presence of their soldiers in the country may have influenced the coup by Jammeh.

There were several Nigerian soldiers in the Gambia at the time and Ebrima Chongan said they man all the major command positions.

Chongan said both the seeming alienation of the Gambian soldiers and the extravagant lives style they enjoy while their Gambian counterparts wallow in dissatisfaction may have contributed to atmosphere that led to the coup.

“It is not normal for the command positions of a country to be man by foreigners,” he said.

However, the Commission witness on Thursday, Sheriff Gomez who was also a senior army officer at the time of the coup, differs.

Gomez said if the coup were to be as a result of dissatisfaction in the army, it would have been led by senior officers.

“The army has structures and if the junior officials are disgruntle, they should communicate that to the seniors for it to be addressed,” said Gomez.

Gomez is the third Commission witness that appeared before the inquiry on Thursday.

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