By Omar Bah
Former soldier Sheriff Sanyang, who was heard in recently leaked WhatsApp audio conversations with former president Yahya Jammeh accusing three of the former president’s closest aides of involvement in burning down the party’s Kanifing headquarters, has admitted lying.
Sanyang had accused former Republican Guards commander Lt General Saul Badjie, former National Assembly majority leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta (FTJ) and former Kanifing municipality mayor and APRC chief mobiliser Yankuba Colley of having tacit knowledge about the arson attack on the bureau. He claimed that General Badjie approached him purportedly at the behest of President Jammeh to burn down the offices for an undisclosed reason.
Jatta, who is now the Speaker of the National Assembly and others implicated by the former soldier, have issued statements distancing themselves from his allegations.
Over the weekend, The Standard has been privy to new audios obtained by a new Gambian investigative outfit, The Guardian Intelligence Investigative Platform where Sanyang has audibly eaten his vomit and admitted lying against Speaker Jatta, General Badjie and others. In the audios which are in the position of this paper, Sheriff Sanyang said he was “forced” by Sanna Manjang and others to implicate Speaker Jatta, General Badjie, Yankuba Colley, former Interior minister Ousman Sonko, and current APRC deputy leader and diplomat Ousman ‘Rambo’ Jatta.
These men were all close aides who have fallen out or are having strained relations with the former president.
Days before Sanyang’s audios were leaked, plans were afoot to reconcile the two factions of the former ruling party which are headed by Speaker Jatta and a Jammeh loyalist.
In the new confessional audio Sanyang stated: “Sanna Manjang called me and said he was sent by Jammeh to engage me to provide him with information on those who were behind the arson attack on the APRC bureau. He told me Jammeh is convinced that I couldn’t have done it alone and that they knew Saul Badjie, Rambo Jatta, Tombong Jatta, Ousman Sonko, and Yankuba Colley aided the process. After speaking to Manjang, I contacted the National Security Adviser and explained everything to him.
“I told him these people [Jammeh and his men] have the intention of destroying the country, and I am not prepared to be part of it. He assured me that they would work on it. I also sent him all the audios I recorded during my conversations with Jammeh and Manjang and asked him not to share them with anybody, but unfortunately a few weeks later the audios were out,” Sanyang said.
He said when the audios were leaked, Sanna Manjang contacted and threatened him. “He told me my actions would not go unpunished. I also received threats from […] a soldier at Yundum Barracks who ended up sharing my photos and the audios online, claiming that he got the order from Jammeh and Sanna Manjang. So it was after that the police called me for questioning, but I told them they should instead call the soldier, who is working directly with Jammeh and still serving in the army,” he said.
Sanyang added that a few days later he received another call from Sanna Manjang.
“Sanna told me if I wanted him to protect me, I should record an audio and implicate Saul Badjie, Ousman Sonko, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Rambo Jatta, and Yankuba Colley. Even though I knew I was lying, I had to do it to protect my life. But these people were not involved in the arson. These are people who helped Jammeh, so you don’t expect them to do any such thing. That is unthinkable,” he said.
Sanyang claimed while he was serving at the Basse military barracks, he was approached by the former president’s men and he reported the encounters to the camp commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jarju alias Hitler, and the director of intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Trawally.
He said his two superiors promised to investigate the matter and get back to him.
“But I felt unsafe in Basse, so I decided to resign from my job… I could not live in such an environment,” he said.
Sanyang however admitted to burning the APRC bureau as well as conducting the arson attacks on the Bakau and Abuko GNPC pump stations in 2016.
The interview was conducted by Sheriff ML Faye, the director general of Better Police and Military Equipment for The Gambia(security and investigation) and lead investigator for The Guardian Intelligence Investigative Platform.