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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Another open letter to Momodou Lamin Gassama

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By Samsudeen Sarr

Dear Modou Lamin,
I have to temporarily suspend part seven of my series-July 22, 1994 Coup- to write another opened letter to you after watching the distorted testimony of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Baboucarr Malick Jeng at the TRRC. I thought you were the only one coached by special interest individual(s) before your appearance at the commission to tannish the images of selected Gambians, but after the appearance of Baboucarr Jeng, I saw a broader net of conspirators not limited to a few, but widening by every TRRC hearing.

Nevertheless in my view, coaching and emboldening a nincompoop Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) like Baboucarr Malick Jeng ostensibly continuing from where you had stopped showed a serious desperation in a failing effort to achieve your hidden objectives.
To start with, Jeng pretending to look and sound like a commissioned officer at the TRRC may work on the civilians who lacked the basic understanding of how armies function, but not to the REAL commissioned officers who will always see him as a junior person.
To write to him therefore will mean bringing down my level to his, and give him the importance he doesn’t deserve from his superior officer. That is why I decided to write to you again knowing that you are both in the same mission to wreck havoc without conscience or the fear of God.

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But before publicly breaking down the content of his message for everybody to clearly see the jackass they were listening to I thought it central to finish scrutinizing your ill-conceived messages at the TRRC aimed at maligning the rectitude of impeachable people.
By the time I finish with you Momodou Lamin, you will be doubting your effectiveness in inventing slanderous allegations against Vice President Sahou Sabally, my self and other law-abiding individuals identified by your ringleaders as soft targets for the persuasion of the gullible. Crafting scenarios where I am to be finally judged guilty as a principal participant among those instrumental in the success of the1994 coup de tat was the lowest I had ever expected you to go against me. Indeed, for you to shy away from your admission of my innocence entertained throughout the past two decades and now doubling down on the frivolous speculation that Vice President Sahou Sabally was an accomplice in the coup plot based on no credible evidence, characterizes you in my book as a very treacherous and callous person.

What is in it for you so consequential to now discredit his factual version after we had in the past agreeably discussed and accepted the plausibility of Mr. Sabally’s alibi of being at the funeral of his brother on July 21 1994 that prevented him from appearing at the airport to welcome the president? Some of us working at the Ministry of Defense at the time even went to the Banjul mortuary that morning to sympathize with the minister before the corpse departed with him and the family members for burial at his village.

So after being sworn in under oath before the TRRC, the least you could have done was to spare him the grief of evoking the death of his relative and for once acting godly by apologizing to him and his family. But to continue living in denial because you lost your lucrative and prestigious job as a permanent ADC of the president encapsulates the traits of callousness in you. I now know that you will go to your grave entertaining this same nonsense in your shallow head. But thank god some of us are hear to chronicle the opposite version of your cynical narratives for our descendants to compare and draw their own independent conclusions. In every action according to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, there is alway an opposite and equal reaction to it. Baboucarr Jeng will not understand what I mean by that but as an educated officer you sure will and can convey the message to him on my permission.

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You tend to misunderstand the national spirit behind the constitution of a TRRC that we believe is for Gambians to have a platform where to reflect on our past mistakes with the intention of rectifying the rectifiable ones, forgive each other and forge ahead as one people and one nation. Neglecting that fundamental tenet of that spirit and trying to abuse the opportunity for your selfish aspirations not only uncover you as a saboteur but further exposes you to the boomeranging effects of your own evil projectiles catapulted to hurt the irreproachable.
Your definitive establishment of a scheme of targeting Gambians not employed by the government and sparing those that are, reinforces my belief in your insincerity and manipulativeness.

Without doubt, if your gut feeling hadn’t cautioned you that day not to go too far into denigrating the character of Chief Justice Mr. Assan Jallow, still holding a key government position, you probably would have dragged him into another filthy gutter dug for your imagined conspirators. You had already laid down his castigation foundation in telling us how he violated his duty for not accompanying Sir Dawda from the airport to the State House after accepting the responsibility of deputizing for the vice president who “vanished in thin air”.

You then added that the president at the State House asked for the whereabout of Mr. Jallow and couldn’t be given any reason for his disappearance; “Sir Dawda then shook his head in uncertainty before walking into his bedroom”.
On the same pattern of who to target or not, from Mr. Assan Jallow, you picked out Mr. Lamin Kabba Bajo and Mr. Lang Tombong Tamba, the then Commander and Deputy Commander of the State Guard respectively and accused them of abandoning you and the president in the middle of the chaotic situation compelling you to take command and control of their troop-less Unit. Are these two officers working for government now? Of course not.

Obviously, you spared Major Turo Jawaneh who was in command of the Fajara Barracks, the main TSG base, because he is still in uniform serving President Barrow’s government at state house. But who didn’t know among the members of the security forces that day that the wimp quickly relinquished his duties to his subordinates in the camp and fled to his residence when Sana Sabally and Sadibou Haydara attacked the barracks that morning? If you had found him unemployed, such cowardly action would have perfectly dovetailed into your checklist of the soft targets.

Then in the case of former IGP Press Jagne, you virtually left the commission confused about what to think of the role he played, whether an enemy like Sam Sarr or friend like Turo Jawneh, because of your intrinsic interest in trying to corrupt him into confirming your fabrication that he also knew about the clandestine part played by Sahou Sabally.
Then to crown it all, you demanded the immediate dismissal from government positions those accused of carrying out “torture” forgetting that the commission at one point, made it categorically clear to you that the TRRC was not a soapbox for judgmental recommendations as such.

Every kind of unimaginable conspiracy has been invented against innocent folks by dogmatic idle minds showing no shred of evidence to support their inventions. I have even heard the ridiculous theory that Sir Dawda after attempting to retire in 1992 but was pressurized to reluctantly stay when he really did not want to, conspired with Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh who used to be his bodyguard and struck a covenant with him to overthrow his government, leave him to go on exile and later allow him to come back and enjoy his retirement honorably. With the Americans’ presence and Jammeh’s return at the time from a Military police course in the USA all were said to be part of the intricate puzzle. So if Sir Dawda was not wearing the cloak of age that often immunizes seniors from slanderous remarks, and given the fact that the theory could be knitted into a marketable tale his involvement in toppling his own government could have been another infamous subject among the revolving ones.

However, never for once did I think that the next witness was going to be Baboucarr Jeng. I was with the assumption that the lethargic-convalescent malingerer was finally in a British nursing home being fed with crackers and juice to burst his obesity.
If this is about rewriting history to suit the appetite of few overlords, then coach an intelligent assistant receptive to learning new ideas with a good memory to avoid laughable inconsistencies. The TRRC is not a parade ground to showcase shouting and marching skills the only talent one can associate to the RSM’s achievements in his entire army career.

Hence, dressing up Baboucarr Jeng in a cheap suit with a $10.00 reading glasses and presenting him before the TRRC to make him look intelligent or as he has claimed to be, an engineer working for a telecommunication company was by every assessment negated by his obnoxious-spoken English, an aspersion to the academic benchmark of the British educational system. I understand he is nothing he is claiming to be in England but a cable-installation technician that if one bothers to check the requirement for hiring one, places more emphasis on candidates being physically fit than mentally sound; it requires folks strong enough to be able to lift 80 lb. of equipment, doesn’t consider an acrophobic applicant because of the involvement of compulsory climbing of heights above 40-feet on ladders; candidates must also be able to carry 25 lb. of tools in belts plus having a valid drivers license to be moving from one location to another. One could stop at Grade 9 or lower and be very well qualified for the job. His substandard spoken English explains everything about how long he had stayed in school. The old Field Force doctrine that “education no matter” never worked for Baboucarr especially around the time of the coup when the Nigerians shifted the dynamics of recruiting and promoting soldiers and officers based on merit.

Momodou Lamin what do you say to Baboucarr’s story of his first encounter with the Nigerians? In his first visit at the Army Headquarters in Banjul in 1994, it appeared as if none of the Nigerians including Akoji, the acting commander at the time ever met or recognized him. That was two years after the Nigerians had assumed command and control of the GNA. The newly appointed commander Colonel Gwadebeh and Colonel Owonebi the operations commander had left for Nigeria to report the impasse over who should be commander and who should go back. General Dada was at home waiting to be told by Sir Dawda to leave before accepting to go back to Nigeria. So the question is, where was Baboucarr Jeng in this window of two years since the Nigerians took over? The answer is simple. While his peers like RSM Alagie Faye who was actually the RSM at Yundum Barracks and Sgt. Major Gibril Saye (RIP) who became the heavy weapon expert of the army, thanks to the Nigerians, were all making the best out of their presence, Baboucarr Jeng on the other hand was avoiding the camp and nursing his never-healed injuries sustained from his car accident in the late 80’s. In short, he was doing what he had been known to perfect; malingering, malingering and malingering only.

At the time he appeared at the headquarter the decision had already been taken to get his ass to work or get fired. He was also to report to Farafeni because there was no place for him at Yundum. All that babbling about resisting to go to Farafeni on the basis of his seniority was nonsense. He obeyed and reported to Farafeni. But as usual, his neck-braces were always on him so as to be excused from the rigors of exercising, going to the range to practice shooting or even joining parades so as to be frequently coming to see doctors in Banjul. Malingering, period. Nothing about him was dangerous for him to assert that the Nigerians posted him to Farafeni after realizing that when left at Yundum Barracks a coup will never take place.

Yet still the dummy forgot about all his posting to Farafeni and painted a picture of himself being the main man at Yundum Barracks especially on the day before the coup, checking “his boys” to ensure that their weapons were cleared of live rounds, that they gave him a good guard of honor parade; that he helped Colonel Akoji to disarm Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh the military police commander and all sorts of things he never did. Listening to him, it was as if the real battalion RSM, Alagie Faye didn’t even exist. The TRRC has to contact RSM Faye in North Carolina in the USA, a far more competent NCO and better educated than this lamer to shed better light over the situation.

In fact when he lied about arguing with the Nigerians over the unfairness of his posting to Farafeni, resulting in the intervention of Sulayman Bun Jack at the Ministry of Defense, I straightaway knew that the former permanent secretary is in the list of their soft targets.
Unfortunately like the Wolof maxim goes, a rascal may not be telling the truth but could end up poisoning the people’s minds. He lied about Sulayman Bun Jack but had poisoned the minds of many people who heard his story.

It is evident that the commission let him got away with excessive malarkey because of his intimating confidence and parade-commanding voice attributable to all RSMs as their most outstanding qualities. But in addition to once being a sensational marcher, halter and about-turner, nothing in Baboucarr’s life in the army was necessarily exceptional. You probably wrote his written testimony submitted to theTRRC before starting his verbal deliberation; if you didn’t then somebody else must have.

Fancy, how he, in the first day of his testimony explained how he was arrested by Sana Sabally, Captain Ndure Cham and other soldiers at Yundum Barracks on July 23, 1994, the day after the coup. Then on the second day of his appearance at the TRRC, when everybody thought he had exhausted that part of his arrest story, he nonetheless asked to be excused to add something he had forgotten about in the previous day which happened to be what should have been the most important piece of the evidence on his arrest. That it was Samsudeen Sarr who convinced Sana Sabally to finally arrest him. That important part of the evidence was not in his written statement otherwise the counsel wouldn’t have asked him how he knew about it. He couldn’t publicly name Sana Sabally’s orderly either when asked, after identifying him as the person who told him about it.

I am still interested in the rationale behind the inclusion of a gentleman like the former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense Sulayman Bun Jack in your list of coup suspects.
Another desired clarification, is whether you only coached him to come and support your argument against Mr. Sahou Sabally alone whereas the lamebrain took it as a license for rampaging insults and accusations to everyone? He insulted all his superior officers that attended the TRRC by calling them liars for saying the truth about Colonel Ndow Njie’sremoval from the army in 1990 who was immediately succeeded by Major Maba Jobe instead of Major Modou Gaye.

Everybody is expecting Major Maba Jobe to testify at the TRRC very soon where I can bet that if asked he will confirm being the successor of Colonel Ndow Njie immediately after that demonstration.
On a serious note, I believe Mrs. Adelaide Sosseh, one of the TRRC commissioners could have cut Baboucarr in size by a quick interpolation of her first-hand knowledge of Major Jobe’s appointment instead of Major Gaye’s who was his wife at that time.
It was however refreshing to see the lady counselor, Miss Gaye, cautioning the loose cannon to desist from such kind of language which to me is tantamount to a child standing before a respectable crowd and calling his parents liars.

Momodou Lamin, you pretty much know that every officer who had attended the TRRC so far outranked Baboucarr, a fact best validated by comparing the refined spoken language of the educated officers with his limited vocabulary, ignorance of when to use a past, present or past participle tense in the English language as typical with undereducated people. Not to mention his total disregard for generic morphology.

You know Momodou Lamin I blame you a lot for not taking the appropriate measures to domesticate this beast before unleashing him to the public. You should have let him know that REAL commissioned officers by military standards are more important than RSMs. That RSMs down to the bottom rank of private soldiers are classified under the same employment disposition; i.e. they work on a contract while officers are considered civil servants. That in the military hierarchy, appointments take precedence over ranks, signifying that if I had signed his dismissal letter in my capacity at that time as the deputy commander of the army irrespective of the rank on my shoulders, captain or less, challenging its legality simply goes to confirm his ignorance of the statutes. You could have given him the example of how Lieutenant Sheriff Gomez before the coup was deputizing for the battalion commander Colonel Audu at Yundum Barracks enjoying all the powers vested to the office of the adjutant he was occupying, previously reserved for captains only. That again illustrates how he was not aware of what was happening at Yundum Barracks or was just showing another facet of his ignorance. Once a jackass, always a jackass.

In his deposition to the TRRC, witness Private Sait Darbo despite my assessment of his state of mind as being a traumatized Back-wayer” with several bolts and nuts missing in his head, still sounded more informed about military procedure than Baboucarr. For when quizzed on who ordered his dismissal from the army, executed by his then Commanding Officer the late Captain Vincent Jatta (RIP), he gave the apt response to the TRRC that such orders like dismissals in the army always originate from the top.

I just want to address this to Colonel Momodou Badgie the National Security Adviser; I am sorry Colonel, but I have to dispute that you were near any place in Yundum or the firing range when the November 11, 1994 suspects were being executed. As one time Army Commander I checked on everybody who was there that day and for sure were not there at all. I have to apologize because of your attitude towards me for wanting to do nothing with me since the impasse. I just can’t sit by and pretend not to know anymore. The story is fabricated and we can go back to business as usual..

What a pity for Commissioner Kinteh to fall for Baboucarr’s shameless drama.
Momodou Lamin, you could have walked out in protest of Baboucarr’s insults to his superiors or when his lies began to be taken seriously. I know that Masaneh Kinteh with all his tolerance of Mamat Cham will be the last person to accept another useless person like Baboucarr Jeng in the GAF. His roller coaster jabbering of being virtually in control of the army under Colonel Ndow Njie, Major Maba Jobe, General Dada and their entire supporting staff including the colonels, majors, captains, was all lies, lies, lies and lies.
This is what we get after most of the officers who previously appeared before the TRRC made it all about their heroic performances, not being forthcoming with the facts while denigrating everyone they thought they could and get away with it. Then you dressed up sluggish Jeng and unleash him to crowd.

In the end, he even appeared to be the brain in England telling General Masaneh Kinteh and his RSM how to run the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF). He was again lying there.
The army that was full of predominantly secondary-school educated soldiers who still used to laugh at Baboucarr’s ignorance is now populated with college and university educated ones, very fit, sharp and too good to be answerable to a namby-pamby like Baboucarr Jeng.

What he did on the day of the coup was simple. I heard that he was briefly at the Denton Bridge- I never saw him- but that he made few discouraging remarks that the coup leaders interpreted as an attempt to sabotage the operation. When he failed, he went to Colonel Akoji’s residence to see what was going on. There, he soon realized that the situation was hopeless. That Colonel Akoji didn’t need a malingerer especially a brain-dead one around him. He then decided to go home and report to Yundum Barracks the following day.
Singhateh who was by then very upset with his actions at the Bridge ordered for his arrest that day. I was never at Yundum that day or at any other day except on July 22 after the coup succeeded. I didn’t know when he was arrested or by whom but according to him it was on Saturday, July 23, 1994. Four days later I also got arrested and detained with him at the same place.

And trust me Baboucarr’s notion that he saw me at the Denton Bridge with Lang Tombong Tamba in Vice Sahou Sabally’s vehicle is a story never heard or confirmed by anybody. That was also a fabrication.
I spoke to Lang Tombong Tamba later in the day but never remembered meeting him throughout the day.
One more final topic Momodou Lamin, I hope you were not behind Jeng’s allegation that I convinced Sana Sabally for his arrest and detention at MileTwo Prison. I can’t deny that Sana Sabally’s orderly Corporal Njie did inform him so but what I can deny is saying that to Sana Sabally.

After all, there was the wife of another detainee Sergeant Faraba Sabally who was made to believe throughout our incarceration that I was behind the arrest and detention of his husband. So in May, 1995 when we were released together and reinstated to the army, Sgt. Sabally later made a special arrangement for his wife to come and meet me and apologize for spreading the false story everywhere. I don’t know when Sana Sabally’s orderly precisely informed Baboucarr about my role in facilitating his arrest and detention, but if it was before we were detained, then he must have adopted a unique modus operandi in hiding his sentiments to me.

Not too long ago, I wrote a paper explaining the conditions under which we were detained at mile two where I expounded on how I tried to one time rally my fellow officers to organize our wives to go and meet the junta and plead with them to kindly release their husbands. Every one I approached showed interest in it encouraging me to go ahead with drafting the letter they could take along as originating from all of them. I thought I could write the kind of letter that will do it for us. Then after consulting my wife to stand by for the letter, Baboucarr quietly sneaked into my cell as I was in the finishing touches of the preliminary draft and advised me to abort the effort because most of the officers I consulted had a change of mind on the undertaking. When I asked him why, he said that the officers were with the belief that they had done nothing wrong to plead for their release and were not sure about why I was arrested and detained since I was the one who was there with the junta and had even accepted an appointment to a ministerial position.

I was devastated when I went around asking the officers and the majority confirmed what Baboucarr said although he had asked me to keep his name out it when talking to them.
Lamin I now believe that Jeng was behind the whole hypocritical disruption.
You came together from England not to tell to truth to a truth-seeking commission but to settle old scores with people you hate because of losing the best job you had ever had and don’t know what else to do about it.
Buy a prayer mat and beed and surrender your faith to Allah. Get that jackass one if it fits your budget.

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