By Baba Sillah
A former lieutenant in the Gambia National Army, Demba Njie has alleged that the former finance minister Ousman Koro Ceesay, whose charred body was discovered in his official car in June 1995, was brutally killed by the AFPRC junta members in 1995.
He added that Edward Singhatey and Yankuba Touray were responsible for the killing.
Explaining the circumstances surrounding the incident to the TRRC yesterday, the witness began by stating that he knew Koro Ceesay as a man of integrity and he recommended him to Jammeh to work with him in order to help him in running the affairs of the country. Koro was subsequently appointed as permanent secretary, office of the president before being appointed as finance minister.
According to the witness, the late Koro Ceesay helped the junta very well and became closer to Jammeh than any other council member.
Mr Njie, who briefly served as chief of staff under the junta revealed that because of Jammeh’s confidence and liking for Koro, Edward Singhatey became jealous because he did not want anyone to be close to Jammeh other than him.
The witness explained that while he was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia attending the then OAU summit as part of Jammehs’ delegation, he received a telephone call from Lang Tombong Tamba who informed him about the death of Koro Ceesay and the information he got from Lang was that there was a “foul play.”
The witness however stated Jammeh never talked to him about Koro Ceesay.
However, according to the witness prior to their departure for Addis Ababa at the airport, he could see Jammeh was talking to Edward Singhatey on two occasions at the foot of the aircraft before he boarded the plane which he said was not normal.
Njie went further to tell the commission that from what he reliably gathered immediately after the plane took off, Koro Ceesay joined Edward’s car and went to Yankuba Touray’s residence in Kotu and that was where he was killed and his body transported in his Mercedez Benz which was burnt near Jambur village. He alleged that the brother of Edward, Peter got his hand burnt in that process.
Earlier in his evidence, the witness told the commission that it was Jammeh who ordered for the killing of November 11 purported ring leaders of the coup.
According to the witness, Jammeh made the order on telephone when he was speaking with other council members and as a result some officers were executed while others were arrested.
Mr Njie further recalled that after that incident later in the day while he was at the State House, he saw four council members, Sana Sabally, Sadibou Haidara, Edward Singhatey and Yankuba Touray who looked like soldiers coming from a war in a jubilant mood as well as Jammeh himself.
The witness testified that when he saw the manner the council members were behaving, he regretted being a soldier, recalling that after the killing Sana Sabally made an announcement claiming that there was a fight at the barracks and as a result some soldiers lost their lives.
Mr Njie further recalled that the council members were united at the beginning but later there was a dramatic shift among them, adding that Jammeh had made an order in the presence of Edward Singhatey that if any council member came to State House after 6 PM let him order his guards to shoot him.
Njie however claimed that he twisted the order and informed his guard and other council members that the president will not see any of the council members after 6PM.
He assumed that the order did not include Edward Singhatey otherwise it would not have been said in his presence.
Njie also recalled that at this time later, Sana Sabally and Sadibou Haidara were closed to each other than any other council members, clarifying that he would not know whether there was any rivalry within the council.
He claimed that Edward Singhatey who was Number 4 in the council claimed to be more educated than any council member and was ambitious to be the head.
Mr Njie said while he was on assignment by Jammeh in Guinea Bissau, he was telephoned by Kalifa Bajinka who told him that Sana and Sadibou were arrested and whisked away from State House.
According to him, those members were set up and Jammeh’s claim that Sana and Sadibou had gun-pointed him in his office cannot be true because if that happened those people would have killed him. “They were setup by Jammeh and Singhatey,” the witness said.
Mr Njie further alleged that Sana and Sadibou were tortured by Edward Singhatey, Peter Singhatey, Alagie Martin and the late Almamo Manneh.
He said in his view, Sadibou Haidara died as a result of the torture meted out on him and not high blood pressure as officially stated.
Sittings continue today.