Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lieutenant General Tamba Remains Firm On His Defence

Says the Idea of Coup Plot is Totally Untrue

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The first accused person, Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba on Monday 24th May 2010 continued his defence in the ongoing treason trial at the High Court in Banjul, The Gambia.

General Tamba and seven others are facing three Counts of treason, charges they denied since taking their plea two months ago. The former Chief Defence Staff (CDS) opened his defence after the Court over-ruled the defence council’s ‘no case to answer submission’.

He told the Court that between January 2009 to September 2009, he did received telephone calls from the second accused, Brigadier General Omar Bun Mbye, third accused, Major Lamin Bo Badjie, fifth accused, former deputy police chief Modou Gaye, seventh accused, Abdoulie Joof alias Lie Joof and eight accused Youssef Ezziddine, a Lebanese-Gambian Businessman.

He reiterated that all accused persons called to sympathize with him on the death of his brother in law, his daughter, his mother in law and father. He said that
during the same period all these people have called and congratulated him on
his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General, as Vice President of The
Gambia Football Association (GFA), on the performance of the Under 17 National
Team Championship in Africa and also in ‘the great’ performance of the senior
national team.

He added that the same people also called to congratulate him on his election as President of Gambian National Olympic Committee (GNOC), the achievement of Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) Football team as champions of GFA 1st  Division League.
General Tamba told the Court that he returned from Denmark on 8th October 2009, after attending the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Congress and on 9th  October, he received his dismissal and removal letter. He said the letter was signed by the Secretary General, Office of the President indicating his removal as CDS and his dismissal from Gambia Armed Forces (GAF).

He noted that the said letter directed him was handed over to then deputy CDS Brigadier General Yankuba Drammeh in the absence of CDS who was on overseas course. He said reading the letter; he was led to his house from State House by the Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ensa Badjie, Present Director General of NIA Numo Kujabi and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence Mr. Harry Sambou.

General Tamba pointed out that after his dismissal as CDS and GAF, he received a telephone call from the Secretary General, Office of the President and informing him that President Jammeh has appointed him as Gambia’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China on Taiwan. He said that he was told that he would be duly informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was done.

“After you were relieved as CDS, do you have any cause to interact with the president?” Lawyer Tambedou asked and Tamba said he was invited by State House Chief Protocol Alagie Ceesay to attend a medal decoration ceremony by the Rotary Club International held at the Cabinet Room of State House. He added
that he was among some personalities who were decorated by President Jammeh, shook hands and took pictures together. 

He noted that he was also among other personalities gathered at the airport to see President Jammeh off during one of his trips to Qatar.  Tambedou asked, “Can you tell what happens when an officer is relieved from services?” General Tamba said the most senior person (officer) in charge directs that the relieved officer be dekited immediately. Tambedou asked him whether he was dekited immediately after his removal as CDS, General Tamba answered in the negative. He noted that after his dismissal and the failure of
the dekiting team to dekit him he was still in possession of arms and ammunition issued to him while in active service. 

He indicated that he made several phone calls to the then Deputy CDS Yankuba Drammeh, but could not get
him. He said he called his former Assistant Lieutenant Colonel Alagie Sanneh for him to pass the message to the then Deputy CDS Drammeh to send a team to dekit him. He asserted that it was not until 3rd November 2009 that dekiting team visited him at his residence at Kololi and dekited him. He said he recognised the dekiting report and said all the contents in there are correct. 

He indicated that when the dekiting team wanted to take his ceremonial uniform he told the team that as former CDS and supervisor officer, he should retain his ceremonial uniform. He said the dekiting team leader stepped out of the compound and made telephone calls and upon returning he was given the clearance to retain his ceremonial uniform. General Tamba said when the dekiting team asked for military identity card and diplomatic passport, he told them that the military card was misplaced, but that he would use the diplomatic
passport as he was appointed as Ambassador to Taiwan. 

He added that he told him he would bring the military card whenever it is found. He added that the team
left without the military ID and diplomatic passport.  General Tamba pointed out to the Court that on 20th November 2009, when on his way to watch “Nawettan” (non-league) football at Serrekunda East Mini Stadium, he got a call from his former assistant Lt. Colonel Alagie Sanneh who informed him that the CDS has parked all the items in his former office as CDS and they will be dropped at his house for him to check and remove his personal belongings and return those not his. 

Lawyer Tambedou asked again, “Can you tell the court how you were arrested?” General Tamba said while watching a Nawettan final he got two phone calls from his two wives and both told him that armed soldiers and plain clothes personnel were at his two residences at Bijilo and Kololi and were told that they were
sent by Former IGP Ensa Badjie to arrest him. He added that he was told by his wives that the armed soldiers came in two pickup trucks at each of his residences. He said both his two wives sounded worried when he told them he was on his way coming home. 

He added that he told them that his conscience is clear and has done nothing wrong and had served the country to the best of his knowledge; noting especially at that time when he was appointed as Ambassador
to Taiwan. He asserted that he has no cause to flee the country even though he could take the opportunity to do so from where he was at the time.  General Tamba posited that he left the Mini Stadium, but could not get his car out of due to blockade by other cars. He said he decided to give his car key to a friend and he hired a taxi and board straight for his home in Bijilo. 

He said upon arrival at his home in Bijilo, he found two plain clothes officers there and told them he got information that they were out to arrest him and they answered in the positive, but they asked him to wait for their seniors. He asserted that he went inside his house and waited for the arresting senior officers to arrive. He said upon arrival he was taken directly to the NIA Headquarters where he met former IGP Ensa Badjie and was there until 2:00 am.

When he was taken into the Conference Room to face the panel, he was told that he is engaged in a coup plot against President Jammeh, he said he told the panel that that was news to him and totally untrue. He stated that when the panel realised that he was getting bitter about the allegation, Ensa Badjie told him that it was information that they were investigating and that his involvement was revealed by one Ebrima Bojang. He asserted that Ensa Badjie told him at the panel that when Ebrima Bojang was arrested at Farafenni he
mentioned his (Ensa’s) name as also involved in the coup plot. 

He stated that Badjie told him he did beat Ebrima Bojang with punches until he (Ensa) has a fracture on his right thumb. He said Badjie also told him if he was him (Tamba) he would beat Ebrima Bojang until he (Bojang) withdrew his name from the allegation list.
Still on his defence, General Tamba indicated that former Deputy CDS Major General Drammeh also told him that while he was about to go for Friday prayers he was arrested and taken to NIA and up to that time he could not go home. He added that Drammeh told him that Ebrima Bojang has mentioned his name also. He asserted that NIA Director General Numo Kujabi also told him to exercise patience because he (Kujabi) was also named by Ebrima as those involved. He said he was later confronted with Ebrima Bojang up to around 4am, when he was asked to write a statement. He added that before he could do so due to late
hours, he was taken to Mile 2 Prison. 

He said on November 21, 2009, he made statements and denied all the allegations against him by the State. The said statements were recognised by him and said he still stands by their contents.  Lawyer Tambedou asked “You were confronted with Ebrima Bojang, have you seen him before that confrontation?” General Tamba said Ebrima Bojang was introduced to him at the panel as Ebrima Bojang, but he told them that he knew him as Ebrima Sanyang. He told the Court that it was one evening after closing from work he found a young man standing under the mango tree outside his compound. 

He said he was told by soldiers on guard at his home that the Young man wanted to speak to him. He noted that the soldiers told him that the Young man has introduced himself to them as Ebrima Sanyang and said he is a son of my sister who is marrying at Bwiam. He said after speaking to Ebrima, he told him that he wanted a tuition fee to pay a course at Quantum Institute and needed D1, 500. He stated that he gave the amount to him the following day. He added that he knew that his sister has a son, but did not know him. He added that he has not been visiting his sister, because of the belief within the Jola tribe that brothers do not frequently visit sisters at their matrimonial homes.  At this point the case was adjourned till 25th May 2010 for Tamba to
continue his defence.

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