By Omar Wally
Retired General Lang Tombong Tamba, former Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, has for the first time spoken about 21 March 2006, when a coup plot led by former CDS Colonel Ndure Cham was aborted by the government of former president Yahya Jammeh. Tamba was the deputy CDS at the time and was immediately appointed CDS after Cham fled.
Since then many theories have been bandied around including allegations that Tamba was part of the coup up to the last moment when he betrayed his fellow coupists to foil it.
However in an exclusive with The Standard’, Tamba said he was never part of that coup and there is abundant evidence to back that claim.
“You see I have a belief that you can hide the fact from people but not from the Almighty Allah. The coup was leaked to me on the very day it was supposed to be executed by a soldier who the coupists were trying to recruit to join them. So, those who did not know that fact felt that I was part of it and I betrayed them but those who were part of it knew clearly that I was never part of it,” Tamba stressed.
He added: “The coupists know themselves and even when the leaders were arrested, they started mentioning names but at no time during that moment did anyone mention me.”
Tamba, who was himself later arrested in 2009 for allegedly staging a different coup and sentenced to death before being granted amnesty, said when Ndure Cham was arrested and was being interrogated, he (Lang Tombong) was in prison and Ndure Cham had all the chance to mention his name if he was part of it, since Ndure had nothing to lose as he was already in prison. “But Ndure Cham never mentioned my name. If I was part of it, he would have mentioned me,” Tamba told The Standard.
Lang Tombong further said the person who leaked the 2006 coup plot to him is still alive. “So there is nothing I can hide,” he said.
General Tamba went on to explain that those who followed his court martial would have noticed that the very person who leaked the coup to him testified and made everything clear.
Tamba however declined to mention the soldier who told him, saying he doesn’t think it’s necessary to mention the name, but if people go by the records of the Court Martial they will find out themselves.
The General also vehemently denied plotting the purported 2009 coup which he was accused of by former president Jammeh, adding that anyone who knows him knows him of loyalty.
“To say I plan a coup in 2009 was ridiculous because I was out of the army as a civilian staying at home. If I couldn’t plan a coup when I had all the soldiers and armory under my command, how could I plan one when I was sacked and I had no soldier and armory under me?” he quizzed.
Tamba said in fact if anything what he did most during his active days in service was to save people in various ways in their positions, including helping those who could not return to The Gambia out of fear for their lives. “I stood and helped them return to The Gambia and helped others get out of prison.”
He challenged anyone who has evidence that he participated in torturing and killing to come forward. “If they want to tell the truth, Allah will reward them but if they want to falsify like they did and sent me to prison in 2009, still Allah will reward them,” Tamba said.
Read the full interview on Bantaba Friday.