By Aisha Tamba
An awol soldier who took part in the deadly failed 30th December 2014 attack on State House told the truth commission yesterday morning that a co-conspirator Mustapha Faal, snitched on the group.
Modou Njie said on the night of the attack, Faal was a no-show. “All along when we were transporting the weapons on that day, they thought that he was with me, while I was also thinking that he was with them [the rest of the group]. We were supposed to transport the weapons together but I did not see them until I was done,” he recounted.
He said those involved in the plot were Mustapha Faal, Sgt Papa Faal, Babucarr Bai Lowe, Lance Cpl Musa Sarr, Lt Col Lamin Sanneh, Private Dawda Bojang, Alhagie Jaja Nyass, Alagie Saidy-Barrow, Capt Njagga Jagne, Cherno Njie the financier and others.
He recounted how they divided themselves into two groups with one targeting the State House front gate and the other the Marina Parade gate.
“Upon arrival, we agreed to talk to the soldiers on guard and told them that we were not their enemies but we were there to rescue the country. But those assigned to talk to the State House soldiers didn’t do their job. I was part of those who were at the front gate. Myself, Lamin Sanneh and Njagga Jagne were in the front gate while at the back gate you had Papa Faal and others.”
He said Alagie Saidy-Barrow, former head of investigations at the truth commission smuggled their weapons into the country and the initial plans of ambushing Jammer’s convoy or an airport raid were discounted because of the likely collateral damage.
While admitting that a coup d’état is a crime, Njie said their aim was to rescue the country from the clutches of “a terrible dictatorship” in which unlawful detentions, disappearances, torture, sexual and gender-based violence were the order of the day.
He said the country was dysfunctional and the armed forces in total chaos. “The high command of the military was sacked and locked up. I saw a colonel hiding and asking young soldiers where the president was…they were not comfortable.”
He said Jammeh instigated fear in the army after the likes of CDS Lang Tombong Tamba were victimised.
He said while in Italy he was not satisfied with how things were going on in The Gambia.
He said this is what prompted him to discuss with Bai Lowe, Dawda Bojang and three others on how to rescue the country as trampling on the rights of people was so bad in The Gambia that they had to do something.
But the last straw that compelled him to join the plot was the execution of the nine inmates from Mile 2 Prison.
“We believe that those people did not even exhaust their appeal cases. He just killed them out of his will. And cases like how the Armed forces were moving, we see the president violating people’s rights using power against the soldiers. Even in the civil. Everyone was at risk,” he explained.
“We just wanted change, so that someone else can try and The Gambia becomes a better Gambia. Jammeh himself said that nobody can vote him out in an election and we saw that so many elections have passed and nothing changed.”
He said Jammeh used to say that the only way he would leave office would be by force. “That is why we decided to come to rescue our country.”
He said Lamin Sanneh, a former State Guard commander, convinced him to join the plot and told him it was nobler to fight for his country than to join the French army, which was his intention at the time.
He said by the time of launching the operation, they realized they were compromised. “But we still continued to push because we came a long way and we had the belief within ourselves that we can do it. So that is why we continued.”
The attack was repelled with several of the attackers killed. In the fighting, Modou Njie said General Musa Savage broke his hand after hitting him with a gun. He said he was subjected to torture in detention
A court-martial later found him guilty and given two death sentences. He was released after Jammeh’s ouster and has since been reinstated in the army.