Alleged Coup Plotters at Court
By Landing Ceesay
Captain Mamat Jobe of the Gambia Armed Forces, testifying as the third prosecution witness in the alleged coup trial involving three officers of the Gambia Armed Forces and one Police Officer, explained to the Court how he exposed the alleged attempted Coup plot.
Sanna Fadera (the 1st accused) and three other soldiers of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), and a Police Officer from the Gambia Police Force (GPF)are accused of an attempt to overthrow the government of President Adama and have been charged with 5 counts including treason.
The defendants charged and standing trial are; Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (1st accused) Private Officer, Gibril Darboe (2nd accused) Corporal Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused), and Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused), Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) is the lone Police Officer charged alongside the Soldiers.
Appearing as the Third Prosecution Witness (PW3) before Justice Basiru B.V.P Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia, Captain Jobe told the Court that he enlisted in the Gambia Army in 2008 and testified that he recognized Sanna Fadera (1st accused), Gibril Darboe (2nd accused), and Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused).
Captain Jobe told the Court that the 1st accused (Sanna Fadera) is his class and they did their basic Military training at the same time. He also testified that he was in Turkey with the 2nd accused Gibril Darboe, and he served in the same Barracks with the 3rd accused, Ebrima Sannoh, at the Fajara Barracks.
Testifying about his interaction with the 1st accused in connection with the alleged attempted Coup, Captain Jobe, said that on 26th of November 2022, he received a call from Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera, telling him that he wanted to visit him in Farato at around 7 pm.
Captain Jobe told the Court that he missed four of Sanna Fadera’s calls around 7 pm. He returned the defendant call and had a conversation with him in which he assured the witness that he (the defendant) will be paying him a visit at his house in Farato.
The Army Captain said around 11 pm when Sanna did not show up, he decided to call him because it was getting late.
“I told him Sanna, where are you because it was getting late. He told me he was around Mingdaw Junction and asked me where he should alight the vehicle. He further asked for directions to my house. I directed him to my house from Mingdaw. I met him on the way and went with him to my house. I offered him a seat in my parlor, and lay on my bed facing him.
“He told me Oga, my purpose of coming here is to salvage the country. I told him what do you mean, he told me that I want us to overthrow the government. I told him that you cannot say that, that idea is unpopular and it is between life and death. From there I told him to desist from such an act because is very dangerous. He responded and told me that all plans are intact. From there he pulled out a document that he called an operational plan and said Oga have a look at this,” the witness testified.
It is Captain Jobe’s testimony that as he was reading the alleged operational plan, he was trembling. He testified that he told Sanna then that he cannot be a part of it, because it is a serious offense.
Captain Jobe further told the Court that he asked Sanna about the identity of the ring leader of the alleged Coup. He testified that Sanna Fadera confirmed told him that he is the ring leader.
Captain Jobe said when he went through the alleged operational plans and he saw that battalions were tasked, he then told Sanna the Coup is bigger than him (Captain Jobe).
“I told him that I am going to school and anything that will alter my education at the University, I am not part of it. In fact, I am not on duty post. I am on study leave. From there, I told him how do you feel about going against the verdict of the people by overthrowing the government. I further told him that in a coup, a lot of things occur. The killing of innocent people and collateral damage.
“As I was telling him that, He (Sanna Fadera) took out a pen and started putting those points on the operational documents. He told me that from my house, he was going to Farafenni to meet Sergeant Dawda Komma and he will return to my house upon his return from Farafenni. Then he told me Oga, it is late now, I am going. I bid him farewell and asked him to keep me posted,” Captain Jobe told the Court.
Captain Jobe further told the Court that when Sanna told him about the Coup, the whole night he could not sleep.
“When I woke up, I told myself if National Security is put before you. You have an obligation to that because according to GAF Act if offenses of such nature are put before you, you have to inform a sitting judge or your superior. I didn’t hesitate, so I decided to call Major Lamin Njie alias Angola,” he said.
Captain Jobe testified that when he called Major Lamin Njie, he explained to him what Sanna (1st accused) told him. He told Major Lamin Njie that at that moment he was not a party to the alleged Coup.
It is Captain Jobe’s testimony that Major Lamin Njie told him to ascertain the information pending Sanna Fadera’s visit to Farafenni.
Captain Jobe told the Court that since the day Sanna Fadera (1st accused) left his house on the 26th of November 2022, he did not hear from him until the 7th of December 2022.
“When I called him (Sanna Fadera) on the 7th of December to confirm whether he was able to meet Sgt Comma. He told me that he didn’t meet Sergeant Comma but he was able to communicate with him. On the 11th of December 2022, I called Sergeant Comma to confirm his meeting with Sanna Fadera (1st accused).
“Sergeant Comma told me that he didn’t meet Sanna Fadera. But he was able to communicate with him on the phone. Sergeant Comma asked me what is the matter, what is the issue. I told him Sanna Fadera (1st accused) came to my house and he wants us to salvage the country by overthrowing the government. Sergeant Comma told me that anywhere he sees Sanna Fadera (1st accused) he will stab him with a knife because he is always in position with a knife. He told me how many years in service. Just one day someone wants to mess it up,” Captain Jobe testified.
It is Captain Jobe’s testimony that he asked Sergeant Comma to be patient and not to stab him the 1st accused with a knife because they are on top of the case.
Captain Njie further testified that he told Sergeant Comma that he has already informed a senior officer, and they are working on it to make sure that the issue de-escalated.
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Captain Jobe told the court that Sergeant Comma further advised him to be careful and not to be involved in such things.
Captain Jobe said in return he told Sergeant Comma it is a threat to National Security.
“From there, I called Major Lamin Njie alias Angola, I told him that I spoke to Sanna Fadera and I also spoke to Sergeant Comma and they have communicated. I told him that the threat is still hanging. Major Lamin Njie also summon Major Alhagie Njie. On the 12th of December 2022, we assembled in Major Lamin Njie’s compound in Nema Su.
“I was the first to arrive at Major Lamin Njie’s house. The second person was Major Alhagie Njie. The military Intelligent Officer Captain Modou Wally who was supposed to come said he couldn’t make it because there was no fuel in his vehicle. Once the subject of the meeting started, a call was made to Captain Modou Wally that he must come because the subject matter is very important. Major Lamin Njie assured him that he will give him money to buy fuel,” Captain Jobe testified.
Captain Jobe testified that after some time, Captain Modou Wally joined them.
Captain Jobe said the meeting was attended by Major Lamin Njie, Major Alhagie Njie, Captain Modou Wally, and himself (Captain Mamat Jobe).
Captain Jobe further told the Court that they inform MaJor Alhagie Njie what exactly transpired at his house between him and Sanna Fadera (1st accused).
Captain Jobe said he was instructed to call Sanna Fadera (1st accused). It is his testimony that when he called Fadera, the phone rang, but the 1st accused did not answer it, but he called back after a few seconds and he (the witness) was instructed by Major Lamin Njie to put the call on speaker.
Captain Jobe said he told the 1st accused that since the day he informed him about the Coup, he cannot sleep, and he cannot go to school. He (Captain Jobe) felt overloaded.
“He (Sanna Fadera) told me Oga, don’t worry. You can go to school. I am currently in Bujinga giving out charity in connection with the coup and from there he will be heading to Mali. I asked him when are you going to apply for the official pass. Because in the military, you need a pass to go out of the country. He (Sanna Fadera) told me that the last time he went, he did not apply but this time someone advised him to apply. Then Captain Modou Wally typed in his phone for me to ask him what type of weapons is he going to use to overthrow the government.
“He (Sanna Fadera) told me that all the weapon systems are intact and let me not think about that. Then Major Lamin Njie posed a question who are the officers involved? I told him that Since you told me this, I did not know your plans. Is like am the only one you are mentioning. Who are the other officers? He (Sanna Fadera) told me ‘Oga don’t worry. This is a telephone conversation.’ He said ‘do you know our class captain Ebrima Baldeh,’ I told him yes and he told me that he is the one who is sealing our information. But when he comes to my house Sunday he will tell me more information,” he testified.
Captain Jobe told the Court that the 1st accused told him not to worry everything will be alright because he (Captain Jobe) was their CPU.
Captain Jobe further told the Court that after speaking with Sanna Fadera, then Major Alhagie Njie told them that the 1st accused should be arrested.
It is the testimony of Captain Jobe that Major Alhagie Njie tasked him to make sure that he recorded Sanna Fadera (1st accused) since he was coming to his house and Captain Wally was tasked with monitoring Sanna Fadera’s activities.
Captain Jobe told the Court that he told Captain Modou Wally that the information is out there and still they cannot do anything about it.
“I told him that Fadera should be called in for questioning. If that is not done, I will go to any military intelligence office and I will request Sanna’s arrest because his (Sanna) action is unbecoming of a soldier. I told him that I will not sit and wait to see this threat happen. Captain Wally concurred with me and said the state is very important in this matter. Later on that day, Major Lamin Njie called and asked me to report to Major Alhagie Njie the following day on 16th December at the Defense Headquarters in Banjul.
“When I reported to Defense Headquarters, I was there with Major Alhagie Njie and Captain Modou Wally to filter the information to the Deputy CDS. We were made to understand that the Deputy CDS was not around as he traveled. I was ordered to get a record of him (Sanna) on Sunday when he comes to my house. I told them that I need at least a pistol with me because the task you gave me is risky. The request was not granted and I was told whether I cannot do the task without a pistol. I told them that as far as it is my country I will do it even without the gun,” Captain Jobe told the Court.
It is the testimony of Captain Jobe that from there he boarded the same vehicle with Major Alhagie Njie and Captain Modou Wally to Fajara Barracks.
He said when they reach Fajara Barracks he was given D100 as his projected fare to return there on Monday.
Captain Jobe told the Court that the same day in the evening, he was called by their Director of Military Intelligence, Major Landing Tamba who told him that he spoke to Major Alhagie Njie and the task ahead is the same, that is to make sure he recorded Sanna Fadera.
“I put the issue of the side arm (pistol) to him, and he also told me that ‘is it that without the side arm, you are not going to do the task.’ I told him that of course, I can do it. I can sacrifice my life for the country because that’s what I signed up for. On Sunday evening, Major Landing Tamba called again to confirm if I was able to get a recording of Sanna. I told him no because he (Sanna Fadera) didn’t call or come to my house.
The following day was on Monday 19th of December 2022, I was supposed to go to school at the University. When I was at the University I could not absorb anything in class. I said to myself Sanna told me that were going to have their last meeting and come to my house on Sunday. But today is Monday he did not come to my house. I decided to call a friend at SIS called Saidou Bah. I told him that I have information for you and you can put it on record because it is a threat to National Security,” Captain Jobe told the Court.
Captain Jobe said he told Saidou Bah about his encounter with Sanna Fadera and what transpired since the first day up to date.
Captain Jobe said Saidou Bah assured him that immediate action will be taken on the matter.
It is Captain Jobe’s testimony that the following day on the 20th of December 2022, Captain Modou Wally called and told him that the target (Sanna Fadera) was secured which means arrested.
Captain Jobe told the court that it was then that he left the University premises and went straight to Major Lamin Njie’s Compound in Nema Su.
“When I was there, a call came in and it was a bit unpleasant. That I was the one that informed the SIS. Then I responded that is not an offense. Because it is our collective responsibility to protect our national interest. At that time I was panicking, I don’t know who is who. That was the time the friend I called at the SIS also called State Guard Commander.
The State Guard Commander confirm and told me that I have done what is expected from an officer. You have to be loyal to the state. Later on, I was called by a joint investigative panel and I was asked to put in a witness statement. I was called last Friday that I should come here and explain my own side of the story,” the witness testified.
The case was adjourned to the 28th of February 2023 for the cross-examination of the witness.