Retired RSM, Abubacarr Malick Jeng has blamed former Captain Momodou Bojang for instilling indiscipline and mutiny in the minds of soldiers who retuned from peace keeping in Liberia and were not paid allowances leading to the first protest by the soldiers.
Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission yesterday, Jeng explained that as RSM his role was to ensure discipline and welfare of soldiers and served as a symbol of discipline.
He recalled that the time the soldiers were protesting about their allowances, the army commander at the time Colonel Ndow Njie met and listened to the constraints of the disgruntled soldiers, adding that the soldiers were even threatened by the firing of gunshot in the air in an attempt to intimidate them.
However, he clarified that none of the protesting soldiers went to Banjul with guns or were stopped at the Denton Bridge but rather they were assembled at the McCarthy Square until when they were called by the then Secretary General to the State House.
Jeng also recollected that former President Jawara was so concern and asked why the soldiers were not paid in the presence of Colonel Ndow Njie and the SG and the officers were promised to be paid.
According to the witness, the ring leaders of the protest were identified which led to the dismissal of some leaders while others were punished, recalling that about 30 soldiers were involved in the first protest.
The witness further explained that no one sacked Colonel Ndow Njie but he resigned based on principles, stressing that after the resignation of Colonel Ndow Njie, interference started in the army by politicians and civilians.
Jeng further explained that as RSM at the time, he never tolerated any injustice in the army and would challenge anything that was not right in the barracks at the time.
The witness also pointed out that the continuous stay of the then Nigerian army head General Dada even after the expiry of his term contributed immensely to the what happened later.
Jeng further told the commission that he was not privy to the Memorandum of Understanding between the governments of The Gambia and Nigeria and added that the majority of the Gambian soldiers did not even know the role of the Nigerian soldiers in the country.
RSM Jeng also observed that the lack of communication within the hierarchy led to the protest by the disgruntled soldiers, noting that the mode of payment of allowances and salary of the Liberian war veteran soldiers should have been communicated to them before their return.
He alleged that at the time the army was still micromanaged by the people [civilians] who did not know anything about the military doctrines.
Jeng said rumours of coup, which spread like bush fire, was due to the reckless attitude of the soldiers who talked about the issue everywhere in bars and nightclubs when they were drunk.
Earlier in his evidence he testified that he was not privy to know that Captain Momodou Sonko was the author of the letter, which instigated protest in the army about the presence of Nigerian soldiers in the country.
Retired RSM Jeng also talked about his transfer to Farafenni as the most senior RSM in the army at the time which he said cultivated a heated debate between him and his commander which led to the intervention of the former vice president, Saihou Sabally who advised him to accept the order until they get to the bottom of the issue.
While in Farafenni during their training exercise, he claimed that he was informed that they were asked to keep an eye on him because he was a threat to the then Nigerian commander at the time, General Dada.
Sittings continue today.