What the TRRC lead counsel Essa Faal failed to ask Sanna Sabally


By Samsudeen Sarr

I want every reader of this paper to be opened minded and not to allow prejudice to cloud one’s sense of judgment on the points raised. I will in fact suggest to any doubter over these issues to go back and replay the recorded testimony of Sanna Sabally to verify my assertions. Everything is on Youtube.

1.In his dogged portrayal of the pervasive corruption during the PPP era that compelled the Gambia National Army (GNA) junior officers to seize power, Sanna on day one gave an example of his futile efforts up to few days before the coup for the curator at the justice ministry to pay the entitlement of his deceased father. Meaning that his father died before the 1994 coup. Yet, in 2004 after being released from prison and his subsequent encounter with the “Bissau assassin Amadou Buarro”, Sanna narrated how his father rented a room for him and his wife at Kotu. They had stayed there until February 21 2004 the last day he spent in the Gambia before fleeing for his life to Senegal.


On that last night, he had advised his wife to quickly leave the house to her mother’s place while he had to flee as well and spent the night with his father because of his certainty that “Buarro from Bissau”, was out to kill both of them that night. Did everybody in the TRRC including lead counsel Essa Faal miss that? Or did they merely assume that Sanna was talking about a step father and not his biological dad who died ten years before? Hello!
2.According to Sanna the climax of his torture with Sadibou Haidara happened when both were “castrated” and his bladder ruptured by the insertion of a metallic instrument in his penis that resembled the spoke of a bicycle. And from that day on Haidara never recovered from his injuries that caused him excessive bleeding from the nose, eyes, ears and wherever. Those injuries, said Sanna, killed his partner on June 6, 1995. I was at mile two prisons, confinement No. 4 when Sanna and Haidara were arrested and brought in to Confinement No.1 on January 27, 1995. The two Confinement blocks were not far apart.

Every officer and other ranks arrested and detained in confinements No.1& 4, about thirty-five of us was arrested, manhandled and detained by Sanna Sabally and Sadibou Haidara. We were therefore very interested in their case when they brought them in that day. Yes, for two consecutive Sundays Alagie Martin and two other young soldiers came to torture them. They were brought right behind the building we occupied and mistreated to scream and begged for mercy like naughty school children being punished by a village school teacher. Not for once did any one of them faint. They were walked in and escorted back on their feet. I think it was a punishment to please us by brutalizing the brutal duo who we had dreaded most on earth. And happy we were to witness that with no sympathy for them especially on the first Sunday. But when it happened again the next Sunday, some of us started feeling bad about the whole thing with the fear that it was not going to ever stop.

I honestly didn’t want them dead. We knew that they were cold-blooded murderers, but that didn’t matter after their detention. However, the torture stopped on that second Sunday, and never happened again throughout until I was released on May 15, 1995. Sadibou then died on June 6, 1995, six months after their detention. Sanna told it as if they were tortured for two years. I have consulted with the detainees I left behind and the prison guards at the time with everyone strongly denying any extra torture of Sadibou and Sanna from anyone other than in those two occasions. So I had expected lead counsel Essa Faal to ask Sanna how he was able to play scrabble with L.F. Jammeh at the time Sadibou Haidara was hemorrhaging to death with his own bladder and testicles just bursted by Alagie Martin and co. Check the video and see where he talked about how in his last breaths Sadibou called for him while he was playing scrabble with L.F. Jammeh and he rushed to hold him breathe his last breath. I also can’t understand how Mr. Faal or anyone in the commission didn’t ask Sanna how one could play scrabble with the agony of one’s testicles and bladder being newly crushed and ruptured respectively.

Or how he managed to put up with all his pain and shame in nudity for “two years”. I don’t want to say that the lead investigator Mr. Alagie Barrow is not doing a very good job, but if he is, I am afraid he must be very sloppy at it. Otherwise he would have found out that the L. F. Jammeh that Sanna said he was playing scrabble with on June 6, 1995, the day Sadibou died, was no where in the prison or the Gambia but was by then living in Cassamance, southern Senegal. Lt. L. F. Jammeh plus three of his colleagues attacked Kartong military camp on July 21, 1997-two years later-and was arrested on July 22, while trying to escape back to Senegal. Unless Barrow tells me that he informed counsel Faal about that and he failed to stop Sanna in his lies, I will blame him as lead investigator for missing that crucial fact and making the commission look really dumb. There is no doubt in my mind that Sadibou Haidara was a hypertensive patient, the primary reason he couldn’t secure a position for training abroad.

Doctor Gaye was the one who treated him in his last days at Mile Two. I was at the GNA headquarters when his condition worsened but was denied evacuation to the hospital by Edward Singhatey. Anyway, Col. Baboucarr Jatta and I visited Sanna and his guards in prison around February 1996. I was then the acting deputy commander. He never complained about his health and was in good spirit. The only one who complained about his situation was his orderly, Cpl. Njie (Ponkal) who asked for reasons of their arrest and detention. I told him to ask Sanna why he arrested and detained us?
3.Counsel Essa Faal should have asked Sanna why he never reported the condition of his balls and bladder at the RVH when he visited there and met the concerned foreign dentist treating his broken tooth caused by the hammer of one of his torturers. The dentist according him was so concerned that he warned him to be careful of Amadou Buarrro. That the fellow from Guinea Bissau who spoke nothing but Creole was a possible assassin sent to kill him after finishing his sentence. Sanna left the Gambia to Senegal on February 21, 2004 with his balls still bursted and his bladder not yet treated.

He never reported his medical condition to the Senegalese authorities or to the UNHCR either, where he had registered in wait for political asylum abroad. It was only when he got admitted in Germany in 2008, four years later that he finally got the medical assistance he urgently needed. Where are the medical records of his treatment? His story sounded too foxy.
4.Counsel Faal should have asked Sanna the names of the two women from his house who were arrested and seriously tortured at the NIA after his arrest. To me, those women only exist in his delusional mind crammed with never-ending fabricated tales.
5.I was particularly interested in finding out from Sanna why Mamat Cham and I were arrested and jailed on July 27 1994, barely twenty-four hours after appointing us ministers. If he could deplore sharing the secret of a coup with me for my untrustworthiness, then why not ask him the reason for appointing me minister? Were they afraid of an answer from Sanna offensive to Mamat Cham who is now the GNA commander? Sabally didn’t even mention our appointment when he was talking about the apportionment of the ministerial positions.

They tried weakly to conceal the involvement of Mamat Cham in the initial planning of the coup; but we all know that the current army commander was in the beginning part of them. He confessed it in detention at Mile Two. Given the testimony of those who came before Sanna, it was evident that he was not at the State House when the first meeting with the senior officers happened on July 22, 1994. He lied about sending the ferry to Barra that evening to get Yankuba Touray whom he said attended the meeting. Yankuba arrived the next day around 9:00 a.m. and in my presence, was declared a co-opted member of the newly formed council by Edward Singhatey. The formation of the council and appointment of ministers were all done on Saturday, July 23, 1994.

6.Another question the commission should have asked Sanna was how he was going to tactically use the army’s heavy weapons to close the entry and exit points of Yundum Airport on the evening of July 21, 1994 after Sir Dawda Jawara and his entourage were arrested upon arrival from England. Didn’t the moron say that the support weapon platoon he commanded had no men at all? Or was he going to do that job alone? He must have factored the ignorance of the TRRC to sell that kind of baloney of stealing and hiding the army heavy weapons from the armory to a location in the barracks not known to anyone. Because only ignorants in the area of support weapons will accept the practicality of one or few men stealing 81mm, 60mm mortars, RPGs, GPMGs and Anti Aircraft guns from the Yundum Barracks armory and concealing them at a safe place in the camp. These are special weapons always disassembled in pieces for storage and takes a whole team of experts to meticulously reassemble for action. And when assembled cannot be hidden just like that. The TRRC certainly needs a knowledgeable military officer in their midst if they want to be taken more seriously; otherwise these former GNA soldiers will continue playing with their minds day in day out.

7.Sanna passionately argued that national constitutions provide soldiers with the right to seize power from democratically elected governments if there was sufficient evidence of rampant corruption, nepotism and the like in a given country. Yet no one including counsel Essa Faal asked him to explain in what part or section of any constitution he had ever read such a stupid idea, including in that of the Gambia’s. The guy is just undereducated, unreasonable, unrepentant and too dangerous to himself and society. Celebrating him is tantamount to advocating absurdity. How absurd was Sanna in first stating that he had forgiven Yahya Jammeh and all his torturers the very day he left the gates of Mile Two prisons in 2004 but went on to contradict that whole spirit in his closing remarks by stating that he spent all his post-prison life outside the Gambia relentlessly struggling to remove Yahya Jammeh from power and had only stopped the day President Barrow was elected in 2016? If this is not a classic symptom of bipolar disorder I don’t know what is. Rest my case!