By Tabora Bojang
Former co-opted junta member and minister of Interior under the AFPRC, Lamin Kaba Bajo yesterday shocked the TRRC when he said he had always taken the death of former finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay as an accident as claimed by official sources.
Bajo, who is now the Gambia Football Federation President, also denied ever being told by junta leader Yahya Jammeh to quit with his investigations into Koro’s death. His assertion on this matter was rejected by a former justice minister, Mustapha Marong who claimed Mr Bajo received these instructions from Jammeh in his presence. Mr Marong also disagreed with Mr Bajo’s claim that he was negligent in his duties as Interior minister not to have done more in the investigations.
According to Marong, there was no case of negligence but willful refusal to investigate the matter.
Continuing his testimony, the former diplomat told the commission that after the minister’s mysterious death he and former junta chairman Jammeh visited Koro’s family where the president assured them of his commitment to investigate the matter.
He said the ministry only considered the matter at the time as an accident until the TRRC revelations.
According to Bajo, even though president’s assurance to the family was not a formal instruction given for him to carry out any substantive investigations, but he took it upon himself by instructing former IGP Gibril Joof to conduct preliminary investigations.
Bajo also rejected claims by the lead counsel that he failed to conduct any serious investigations to return the many favours Jammeh granted. The counsel accused Bajo of using his position to isolate matters on the ground in relation to his responsibilities because Jammeh severally favoured him during their time in the army as well as offering him privileges not enjoyed by other senior security of chiefs of the Jawara inner circle when he returned from Senegal in 1994. Mr Bajo denied this.
He said his failure to conduct any serious investigations into Koro’s killing was no means a way to cover up Jammeh’s alleged involvement because he has never instructed him not to investigate the matter.
“I did not owe any form of loyalty to Jammeh over this case. I could have certainly done better but it was negligent on my side to discharge my duties as an Interior minister for the state,” he said.
Bajo, a former commander of the presidential guards of former President Jawara, denied any involvement in the coup that brought his colleagues and friend Yahya Jammeh to power in 1994.