By Samsudeen Sarr
I know little about Mr. Tamsir Jassey other than to say that we had briefly crossed paths a couple of occasions, in the Gambia and in the USA. The details, though interesting are rather insignificant to this story.
However, I think it was January 4, 2021 a special darling of Essa Faal and his choreographed TRRC that once again blinded their train of scrutiny .
As indeed becoming habitual, the TRRC once more failed to conduct a thorough investigation on Mr. Jassey’s revelations, and, above all never wanted to pin him down with certain critical questions often asked the unfavorable witnesses.
For instance, Mr. Jassey’s statement that he first visited the Gambia in December 1994 to attend his mother’s funeral (RIP) after his impressive life, career and education in the USA during which he had written a police-reform-policy paper, submitted to then Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pa Sallah Jagne had indeed a huge credibility hole. He couldn’t have forgotten that special date on his mother’s death which coincidentally happened five months after the 1994 coup and a month after the November 11 bloody abortive countercoup. The military regime was at the capstone of its genesis.
I was in that month and date locked up in Confinement-cell-number-four of Mile-Two-Central Prison, while IGP Pa Sallah Jagne was in cell #8, arrested and detained by the rampageous Sana Sabally and Sadibou Haidara.
Besides, Mr. Jassey never told us whether his police-reform paper was voluntarily written and offered or was a request from the AFPRC government. In either way he seemed to have been blinded by his need to join the military government.
That said, let’s look at Mr. Jassey’s final arrival in the Gambia and his appointment as police adviser on July 1, 1999. Apparently the AFPRC/APRC government was five years in power, still characterized by a mixture of military and civil policies. Mr. Jassey obviously disregarded such reality; but like most opportunists who had wholeheartedly embraced the policies of the “military regime” until they fell apart with it or evolved into better international opportunities and then started denouncing everything it had represented, Jassey as well had to arm himself with the familiar narrative that he was out to help for the love of country and the Gambians when in reality, it has always been about job, position and money, period.
Paradoxically folks are saying that Mr. Jassey was the official Gambia government police adviser during the infamous April 10-11 2000 student demonstration that according to witnesses squarely blamed the Police-Intervention Unit for opening fire and killing several demonstrators. He probably settled that controversy with Essa Faal behind the scene and blamed Jammeh for giving them the orders. Essa should be happy to accept that. But I definitely expected Faal to quiz Jassey on that. He further revealed that IGP Rex King subsequently resigned, succeeded by DIG Sankung Badjie and finally provided him the golden opportunity to happily become the DIG.
Promotion, rank and salary were paramount to our Gambian-American, weren’t they?
However, December 2000, he was dismissed for what he attributed to delivering a radical presentation to an unidentified group of people along with “Guru Halifa Sallah” on how to create a better police force independent of military influence that he feared prompted his ultimate dismissal. What was he thinking not to remember that the government he was serving was founded on military principles? I don’t think his first police-reform-policy paper submitted to the mysterious IGP in 1994 that eventually got him the police-advisory job in 1999 reflected anything of that sort; because if it had, it is obvious that Jammeh wouldn’t have hired him for a day. Without doubt, it was a charmer that most likely seduced Jammeh. Essa could have asked or searched for the paper in the same manner he diligently did, to secure Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba’s letter to Jammeh just to publicly embarrass him. It was so charming that Jammeh impulsively wanted him appointed IGP on their first meeting. Of course, it would have been unthinkable for a US E-7 Navy Chief petty officer to be appointed IGP, no matter how many international wars he had fought and won.
But after being fired in 2000- mark you, Almamo Manneh was also killed earlier that year in a “countercoup”-for no good or given reason, he came right back after 9/11 forgetting that the regime was still by leadership, shape and substance the same he had left a year or two ago. Reminds me of one of my favorite primary-school stories about the Washerman donkey who was fooled twice into his demise. To tell us that he had settled for the position in the Immigration Department, because of its apolitical nature was cheap shot. Ousman Sonko or Ousman Badjie, minister of interior overseeing an apolitical Immigration Department in the Gambia was not an astute statement.
As if that was not enough to question his good sense of judgement, Jassey with all his knowledge and experience, further tells the TRRC that he had decided to support Ndure Cham’s coup plans without the need to know who was involved other than Jammeh’s chosen successor Alieu Jobe. Seriously?
He claimed to have disagreed with the choice of Alieu Jobe because of his young age and inexperience in politics and had convinced Ndure Cham to explore the candidature of the late Bishop Telewa Johnson for all the reasons he had objected in Alieu Jobe. Ndure Cham, he said, had accepted the Bishop Johnson idea although Essa again failed to ask him whether any efforts were made to contact the priest or not. I don’t think Bishop Johnson would have been that dumb to support any successful coup let alone one under planning by Ndure Cham and Tamsir Jassey.
I was also very interested in the names of the members of the bar association whom Jassey said were part of those identified by Ndure to have been part of the conspiracy and even warned him to abort the first date of springing the coup during an AU summit in Addis Abba. Essa didn’t want to discuss them either and quickly changed the subject upon mentioning his colleagues.
About the part of the Senegalese government’s involvement, I think that was an open secret. I was one witness contacted in New York City by senior Senegalese military officers a month or two before, seeking my opinion about the character of ‘CDS Ndure Cham’ that they said was working on plans to oust the APRC government. I couldn’t tell them much about Cham but had simply warned them to be mindful of his seriousness and capabilities. I know other officers in exile as well who were contacted by the Senegalese command on the same subject. Jassey may try to deny their participation out of reasons best known to him; but I can swear under oath, without shedding a drop of tear that the government of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal was aware of the 2006 coup plot and had fully supported it. Unfortunately, they, in the end, dumped Ndure in the wilderness after he had failed embarrassingly. Typical of governments.
What I also find very disturbing about Jassey’s involvement was all his focus on how to conduct the coup by whom, why and when on a successful projection but never for once considered the possibility and consequence of a failure. That’s my kind of low IQ strategist.
He was lucky that it was not in Nigeria or Ghana where coup plotters of his type are speedily rounded up and executed before their rights or liberties are read to their families and lawyers. They were lucky that Sana Sabally, the late Sadibou Haidara and Edward Sighatey were no longer around to handle the situation differently. Essa Faal needs to understand that coups are not our everyday normal crimes and are treated differently in different countries. Those who try them should expect to kill or be killed. That is what it is all about the illegal seizure of power. These guys were out to seize power and no amount of denial can change that. Surviving it was tantamount to cheating death.
I think Mr. Jassey’s closing remarks will frighten any government considering to hire him. To literally insinuate that Ndure Cham was right in his attempt to topple the government because governments that kill their people deserve to be ousted, is outrageous and rather ignorant. If he was that hateful of the APRC regime that emerged out of coup d’tat why seek employment with them? How sincere was he after all?
Working for Jammeh the “dictator/killer” and all what not until you exhaust all opportunities to hold on to a job in the system then turn around to conspire with military officers of very low caliber of whom you have little or no knowledge of their capabilities and sincerity epitomized every definition of recklessness and greed.
Sorry to be blunt, but I couldn’t put it in any other way, period.