TREASON TRIAL: WITNESS IMPLICATES KUKOI, NDURE CHAM, CDS KINTEH, GENERAL TAMBA, AND OTHERS!!!
KUKOI, AND NDURE CHAM SHUTTLE BETWEEN DAKAR, AND BANJUL HAVING MEETINGS WITH GEN. TAMBA- WITNESS ALLEGES
WITNESS SAYS HE WAS PART, AND PARCEL OF THE COUP
AS JUDGE RAISES CONCERN OVER WITNESS’S MENTAL STATUS
By Staff Reporter Fatou Cham, Banjul
The discredited state witness in the ongoing treason trial involving the former Army Chief Defense Staff Major General Lang Tombong Tamba, and other coup indictees, yesterday implicated fugitive Kukoi Samba Sanyang—the main mastermind of the 1981 rebellion, Colonel Ndure Cham, CDS Massaneh Kinteh, his former Deputy Yankuba Drammeh, and other coup suspects in his grand testimony.
Ebrima Marreh, who was unable to state his actual date of birth when asked by the presiding judge said he was 20 years of age—adding that he was born in 1988, which is opposed to his actual age—leading the court to doubt the sobriety of the witness’s state of mind. He is two years older than the actual age he gave the court. If he was born in 1988, he must be 22 year of age, and not 20 as he claimed in his testimony.
Appearing before a televised court room, stormed by Gambia Radio, and Television Services cameramen, who pointed their cameras into the faces of the treason suspects, amidst strong security presence, and court spectators, Ebrima Marreh told the High Court in Banjul that General Tamba was in constant touch with Kukoi Samba Sanyang during their alleged plans to overthrow the democratically elected Government of President Yahya Jammeh.
An elegant looking Mr. Marreh, who dressed in an Executive suit arrived in court under a heavy escort by state guard soldiers Tuesday. Mr. Marreh testified that he witnessed on numerous occasions General Tamba having conversations with Kukoi, and the erstwhile Chief of Defense Staff Colonel Ndure Cham at his Kololi residence.
The witness claimed that both Kukoi, and Ndure Cham were shuttling between Dakar, and Banjul to have private meetings with General Tamba at his home in Kololi. He claimed that the conversations between Tamba, Cham, and Sanyang were premised on a premeditated coup plot that was hatched by the parties concerned.
While confessing that he (Mr. Marreh) was part, and parcel of the planned coup, the prosecution witness informed the court that General Tamba was the ringleader of the alleged foiled coup. He claimed that General Tamba was busy coordinating the activities of the mutineers, and that he (Tamba) had strategized plans with Kukoi, and Ndure Cham, in a bid to unseat the current administration through forceful means.
The witness was asked if he could recognize Kukoi, and Ndure Cham, he responded in the affirmative. The court intends to provide pictures of the people connected to the coup to enable the witness to identify Sanyang, and Cham at a later date.
The name of the current Army Chief of Staff Major General Massaneh Kinteh featured prominently on the witness’s testimony. Mr. Marreh alleged that General Tamba was in touch with General Kinteh while he was away on a study leave in the United Kingdom. He claimed that General Kinteh was privy to the planned coup, and that even after his return from his UK studies program, he (Kinteh) was briefed by Tamba about the pace of planned coup. He adduced that Kinteh was talking to Tamba, until Tamba’s removal from the army.
The witness also claimed that the former Deputy Chief of Defense Staff General Yankuba Drammeh was involved in the coup, but could not state to what extent Drammeh was implicated. He said all he knew was that Drammeh was talking to Tamba, but could not tell his level involvement in the alleged planned coup.
Explaining his role in the foiled coup, Marreh said he was tasked with mounting surveillance in various security instillations across the country—to assess the degree of alertness of soldiers in the said locations.He also said that he was dispatched to the Farafenni army Barracks to assess the situation as well as monitoring the activities of the soldiers in that location.
Mr. Marreh said also among his assigned duties was to ensure the smooth arrival of some of the mutineers coming from Thies—neighboring Senegal to support the operation to unseat Jammeh from power.
The prosecution witness said he was advised to get in touch with one Major Kuluteh Manneh of the Military Police at Yundum Barracks , who he spoke with over the phone before his visit to Yundum to mount surveillance on the security instillation.
Mr. Marreh claimed that the coup was scheduled to take place on the Muslim feast of Tabaski. He said Lai Joof and Ezzedin were tasked with financing the coup operations by ensuring that arms were secured from Guinea Conakry, through the help of Ousainou Kujabi— who goes with the aliases Jabbi Kassama—a native of Bundungkakunda. He said LT. Colonel Bombadier was assigned to monitor the movements of the President within his Kanilai villa.
According to the witness, Lai Joof gave him a check to hand it over to Jabbi Kassama to help secure arms from Guinea, but the witness could not tell how much money was contained in the said check, upon questioned by the presiding judge. The judge could be seen shaking his head—a body language suggesting that he doubts the reliability of the witness.
The witness also talked about receiving the sum of D2,500 dalasi from army officer Kuluteh Manneh, shortly after the removal of General Tamba. That, Manneh was pleased with Tamba’s removal, and that Tamba’s departure was seen as a "blessing" in disguised for Major Manneh.
The witness also said he resides in multiple addresses in the Greater Banjul area, such as Kololi Taban, Bundung, Bujilo. He said he onetime stayed with General Tamba.
Earlier on, the defense Lawyers complained that the prosecution witness Ebrima Marreh is usually escorted to the DPP’S office after court, a move they viewed as an interference with the judicial process. But the DPP maintains that interviewing of witnesses was part of his job domain. He insists that he doesn’t see anything wrong with talking to his own witnesses outside the court. But the presiding judge sided with the defense by saying that the DPP ought to have properly interviewed his witnesses before bringing him to court.
The case has been adjourned to Wednesday for further hearing. The judge said he wants to finish the treason case within three months. He intends to sit on a daily basis in a bid to expedite the proceedings.
For the first time, the GRTS is providing life TV coverage of the treason trial. The accused persons dominate GRTS evening primetime news, as TV footages of the accused persons are shown on TV live.
It is not clear as to what the state wants to achieve by subjecting the accused persons to trial by media. Witnesses appearing in court are never shown on GRTS, they only provide footages of the accused persons, thus manifesting their journalistic biasness.
Our reporter said coverage to the treason trial, has been restricted to home based journalists—most importantly freelance journalists. She said each media house is allowed to send one reporter in court, and that information reported is monitored by the NIA in their morning news analysis.
Despite their failure to give accreditation to the Freedom Newspaper reporter to cover the treason trial, we were able to penetrate the court room to cover the proceedings live.