Former Army Chief Baboucarr Jatta Admits Not Telling TRRC The Whole Truth

By Pierre Njie

Colonel (retired) Baboucarr Jatta; former Army Chief of Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) has admitted not telling the whole truth to Essa M. Faal, Lead Counsel at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) during his testimony before the commission.

“I was not open to Essa M. Faal. Let me tell you this, at Brikamaba. I will not tell Essa everything that happens in Brikamaba. In Brikamaba, the Station Officer (S/O) was found cleaning a riffle that I gave to the police. I gave one hundred and fifty (150) round live ammunition to the police with 1.5 millimeters rounds of live ammunition together with 5 hundred blank ammunition. That is why I came to the TRRC to tell Gambians am sorry,” he revealed.

According to him, he gave these arms and ammunitions to the Brikamaba police officers in 1994 in order to put up a unit that can handle the VIP protection and armed robbery.

Jatta made these revelations yesterday in an exclusive interview with Alhagie Colley which was aired on West Coast Radio on a program called “Coffee Time with Peter Gomez”.

“If Essa had been talking to me to me on matters related to policing, there he would have enjoyed the conversation. I lost six (6) of my men in the Farafenni attack; but Essa M. Faal would not mention them at the TRRC, because they are soldiers;” said the former army chief.

He described the army under former President Jammeh to be what he referred to as “scratch and win”. Col. Baboucarr Jatta said former President Yahya Jammeh was the boss in destroying the army. He said promotion in the army by then was not based on merit; but who pleases the president the most.

“How can you give someone who cannot read and write, a rank of General? How can you give someone a rank of Major because he was able to do 50 push-ups or doing something that pleases you? All these were happening in the army;” he disclosed.

Arrest of Landing Sanneh

The former army chief denied having knowledge or participating in Landing Sanneh’s arrest.

“Sanneh was a second lieutenant; a second lieutenant is not even a junior officer. Why should I waste my time and the time of the President to go and arrest somebody when others can do it?” Jatta questioned. He revealed that they heard that former President Yahya Jammeh was supposed to travel to Gabon but later postponed his trip and went straight to Kanilai.

He further stated that Jammeh got the tape about a planned coup. He revealed that he was alerted by former President Jammeh, adding that it was the State Guard soldiers who were sent after Landing Sanneh and the late Almamo Manneh. He mentioned names such as Musa Jammeh,  Ousman Sonko, together with other State Guard soldiers who went after the duo.

“Upon arrival at Sanneh’s house he (Sanneh) threw a grenade and he was shot on the arm. He was arrested and taken to Yundum Barracks. He was bleeding profusely. One of my medics WO2 Sarr called to informed me that Sanneh was bleeding seriously and I said stop the bleeding;” he asserted. He further stated that it was him who ordered for Sanneh to be tried before a Court Marshall.

“If we lost Almamo Manneh; Bassiru Barrow; together with other soldiers the world would not trust us,” he said.

The former army chief said he was questioned about the death of Ousman Koro Ceesay and he referred those questioning him to former president Jammeh.

“I was questioned about Koro’s death and I said they should ask Jammeh; because he was in charge. Koro’s death has nothing to do with me,” he frowned.

Bassirou Barrow’s death

“I am not that Sanneh, a warrant officer who participated in a coup and got promoted to an officer. How about the likes of Bassirou Barrow who participated in the same coup, did they benefited the privilege like Sanneh,” he queried.

He alleged that the late Almamo Manneh was part of the coup plotters and was shot to death.

“When they brought his body to me I said burry him like that I don’t want to touch that body,” he narrated.


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