The five accused persons are standing trial on five criminal charges – treason, concealment of treason and incitement to mutiny. The accused persons in this trial are: Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (alleged ring leader), Sergeant Gibril Darboe, Corporal Ebrima Sannoh, Corporal Omar Njie and Sub-inspector Fabakary Jawara (police).
Corporal Barra Touray, giving his evidence before Justice Basiru Mahoney, said Sanna Fadera wanted to overthrow the Government of President Adama Barrow. The witness, Barra Touray was part of the accused persons and now discharged by the court.
Corporal Barra Touray said he knew Sanna Fadera and Omar Njie. He testified that the only time he met Sanna Fadera was at the Yundum Barracks when the alleged coup leader came to change for ordinance to change his beret. He explained that Fadera asked the regimental police (RP) in the Barracks to search for him. After exchanging greetings, the witness said Fadera disclosed to him that he had the desire to unseat the President. The witness said this happened over six (6) to eight (8) months ago.
“He (Sanna Fadera) began explaining his intention to me – that he wanted to overthrow the government of the day,” Touray said.
He said Fadera mentioned the problems of the ECOMIG presence in the country, the problems around promotion in the army, the welfare of members of the Gambia Armed Forces and the issue of going on (international) missions.
“I told him that anyway I can’t make any decision right now,” the witness said.
The witness said Sanna Fadera called him in October 2022.
“This time, he (Sanna Fadera), told me his intention to me. He told me to help convince some soldiers at the Yundum Battalion to be part of it (the coup). I told him that I cannot convince any soldier about the issue. He (Sanna Fadera) said ok, and I then told him before I take part in this (coup) I need to see your operational plan and that was the end of the call,” Touray said.
He said Sanna Fadera called him at a later date and informed him to see Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused person) for the operational plan. He testified that on the next morning he saw Omar Njie and informed him about his conversation with Sanna Fadera.
“He (Omar Njie) told me right now I don’t have it (operational plan) with me but if I close from work I will come to your room which he never did,” Touray said.
The witness said he sent a text to Sanna Fadera indicating that Omar Njie was running away from him, but after sending the text, Sanna Fadera did not reply him.
He testified that on the 18th December 2022, Sanna Fadera called him in the morning informing him about a meeting they were supposed to have.
“He did not give information about the meeting. He (Sanna Fadera) only told me there was going to be a meeting,” Touray said.
He said in the evening too, Sanna called him and told him not to fear and that was the last time he heard from Sanna Fadera. The witness said he was arrested on the 20th December 2022 around 2 pm.
Under cross-examination, the witness said he has been a soldier for 15 to 16 years. The witness said a Lance Corporal can only take three men – also referred to as the fire team in the military parlance.
The witness said he was arrested on the 20th December 2022 and he was not told the reason for his arrest until the 6th January 2023 when he went to the police headquarters in Banjul. He added that it was the same day he was arraigned before the Banjul Magistrate’s Court on charges of treason and related offences.
Two charge sheets – one was the charge sheet and the other was the amended charge sheet were tendered and marked as DE1 and DE2.
The witness said he was detained for 17 days before he was taken to court. He informed the court that he was discharged by the court on the 26th January 2023 but he is still under “protective protection. He explained that he was held at the Atlantic Hotel for one day before he was moved to Kotu where he is currently under the watch of military intelligence.
“I only met Sanna Fadera only once and that was the day he came to the Yundum Barracks for the ordinance,” the witness said.
The witness, however, could not tell the number of times he spoke with Sanna Fadera over the phone. He added that he had never seen the operational plan for the coup.
The case was adjourned to the 16th February for the continuation of hearing at 1 pm.