EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: The eleventh witness to the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission revealed in his testimony that the removal of Turo Jawneh as Statehouse Comander might have been the beginning of what he called “Mutiny” on the government of Sir Dawda Jawara.
Tijan Touray gave his testimony via skype connection from the United Kingdom today.
Led by former president Yahya Jammeh, armed men forcefully took over power in a bloodless coup in July 1994. The former dictator who is now in exile in Guinea ruled Gambia with iron fist.
He had rejected the December 2016 presidential defeat by President Adama Barrow but he was pushed away thanks to the intervention of ECOWAS whose sub regional forces are still in the country.
Tijan Touray who joined the service as a Gendarmerie in 1986 rose through ranks to become a plain cloths state guard, informed the commission that the Jammeh coup would have not succeeded had the state guards put up resistance.
He said all service chiefs at statehouse respected Commander Turo Jawneh for his bravery, courage and righteousness. He described the commander as a person who former president Jammeh respected as a colleague in the military and would not dare to challenge.
He recalled that while in the United Kingdom with former president Jawara on the July 1994, Lang Tombong Tamba who was the Statehouse Commander on the ground rang to informed them that there was an attempted coup to which his men had foiled.
He assured Jawara that it was safe to come home since everything was under control.
Touray stated that upon their arrival at the airport on the 21st July, Lang Tombong ordered him to join the physical guard instead of continuing with the then president back to Statehouse.
on the following day, he narrated, when he went to Statehouse to possibly ask for a uniform under the physical guards he saw former president Jawara on a vehicle with the then United States Ambassador to the Gambia.
As they drove away, “I followed them to the sea where I saw them boarding a vessel” but “Kabba Bajo who was then among the body guards sent me back to statehouse to check what was going on there”, he said.
When he returned to statehouse, he said, he noticed that Lang Tombong Tamba was among the coup plotters.
“I saw the group of armed soldiers, it was a big group, like rebels. They turned their berets inside-out making it difficult to identify who is who” among them.
He said Yahya Jammeh was among them and that he heard Lang Tombong negotiating their entry to statehouse with the guards on the gate.
He said this was a time when then Statehous commander Ebrima Njie was on treatment in the UK and Lamin Kabba Bajo was with Jawara at the sea meaning Lang Tombong was the next in command at the time.
“I observe that the men (stateguards) were not happy. They wanted to receive order to resist, when they saw Yahya Jammeh” because they knew he could not make a good leader.
Tijan Touray informed the commission, that was when he decided to leave as he did not want to be associated with the coup.
He said that when he was on the process of leaving the country on the following day, his colleagues, Kebba Sonko suggested a plot for them including Kemeta Sambou to deal with the few soldiers claiming to be incharged of the Statehouse
He said this plan did not work because Lang Tombong who had just been assigned responsibility of Fajara Barracks refused and former president Jawara was already in Dakar.
That was when he left for Dakar only to hear that his name was on the list of those wanted for treason charges.