Tuesday, October 3

Gen Tamba completes testimony with appeal for forgiveness

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By Mafugi Ceesay

Former army chief, General Lang Tombong Tamba has completed a heated third-day at the TRRC with a call for forgiveness from any one who may have been affected by his action or decision while he was army chief. “To err is human and that included myself and I want to ask forgiveness from anyone who I may have wronged,” he said, after a marathon and heated exchange with lead counsel Essa Faal.

After recounting his ordeal in the wake of his accusation of planning a coup in 2009 and subsequent implication in the 2006 coup, which he himself foiled, General Tamba was told to accept that the system that violated his rights in 2009 was the same system that violated the rights of the 2006 coupists when he was in control of the army. But the General was reluctant to accept the comparison as well as suggestions that he was ready to blame anyone except Yahya Jammeh for his ordeal when it was apparent that only Jammeh could have approved what had happened to him and others before him.

General Tamba recalled his arrest in 2009, a few months after his unceremonious sacking as CDS by a group of soldiers of mainly Junglers. He said Bora Colley was among them even though he did not know at the time that he was a jungler. Tamba said he was taken to the NIA where he was investigated by a panel but he denied that he was ever tortured even when confronted with statements by his fellow detainees that they were tortured. Tamba said the Junglers, who were assigned by Solo Bojang to beat him, did not do so, adding that they had only pretended to have done so by beating tables in the room.

“The Junglers told us to pretend that we were beaten by limping toward our cars back to Mile 2, where we continued to play the same tricks as we entered our cells,” he said. Lead Counsel Essa Faal then put to Tamba that he must have been the very luckiest to have been spared by the junglers which might also be because of his relations with them. “There must have been a system that deals with others by torturing them while others are spared,” Faal told the witness.

The lead counsel reminded Tamba that the TRRC is concerned with all human rights violations including those that happened to him, Tamba, and this is done without any ulterior motive. Tamba was told that the objective of the TRRC is to uncover the true nature of the past system, which would allow the president to victimize people unlawfully and then expect those victims to kneel before it to apologise for wrongs that they did not do. The lead counsel then asked but later spared the General from the unpleasant position of reading purportedly his own letter of appreciation to Jammeh after his release from prison in 2015. The General did not dispute the content of the letter but suggested it must have been among those written on their behalf by their lawyer Sheriff Marie Tambadou.

In his final statement, Gen Tamba appealed for sanity and unity in the country. He said the current polarization of the body politic is not conducive for peaceful existence. He called for all Gambians to resist targeting tribes or any one for discrimination, whether in jobs or any other activity. The General called for the reinstatement of senior army officers like Sillah Kujabie, Musa Savage among others. He said he will continue to work on the peaceful coexistence of Gambians at all times. He thanked the Commission for the conduct of its work and expressed hope that the very composition of its members is assuring enough of its competence and fairness.