A Gambian army officer coupist, who narrowly survived death, back in March of 2006, gave a chilling testimony before Gambia’s TRRC on Wednesday. Bunja Darboe, was among the 2006 coup plotters. Some of his co accused persons were summarily executed, but he escaped death. Darboe told the Commission that he suffered a fractured hand, broken right eye, and lacerated body, amid endless tortures he endured in the hands of dictator Jammeh’s assassin team called the jungullars.
Darboe had admitted taking part in the March 2006 failed coup, which was led by Colonel Ndure Cham. Cham fled the country hours after the coup was leaked.
He resettled in neighboring Senegal. It was reported that he was spotted in The Gambia, years later during a sneak in visit and was captured by Jammeh’s agents and killed.
One of Darboe’s alleged torturers Brigadier General Alhagie Martin, is an active serving member of Gambia’s Armed Forces. Darboe says he was forced by Martin to write a post-coup statement, while he was being interrogated at the offices of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul. He says he was slapped by Martin and forced to write the statement.
Among his torturers, he says, also includes Musa Jammeh, AKA Maliyamungu. Maliyamungu died a year or so after the foiled coup. He coordinated the torture of Darboe and co. He also mentioned the name of the late Tumbul Tamba, as among his torturers.
Momodou Jarju, AKA Rambo, a former jungullar, was named as among torturers of Bunja Darboe. Darboe says he suffered a fractured hand because of the kicks meted out to him by Rambo. He was in handcuffs when Rambo assaulted him. He fell on the ground, and his hand was broken.
Darboe says he was denied access to medical treatment for days. A doctor had to intervene on his behalf for him to be taken to the hospital for medical attention.
Darboe says the torture sessions were held at the NIA. He was tortured for hours together with Yahya Darboe, a colleague of his.
He alleged that the panel that was tasked to oversee the investigations of the failed coup were working with Jammeh’s assassin team—the jungullars to torture coup suspects to make confession. He called out Lang Tombong Tamba, the former Deputy CDS at the time, Muhammed Hydara, a former Director at the NIA, who now lives in the United States, and Ousman Sonko, the former Inspector General of police.
Muhammed Hydara’s known place of residence in the United States, was the US state of Alaska. He has been accused of Mr. Darboe of being complicit in the torture meted out to him by the jungullars.
Darboe says he wanted to resign from the army after he felt that he was sidelined for promotion by Jammeh. He thinks that he refusal to work on Jammeh’s farmland, warranted his non-promotion.
Darboe was one of the most senior army captains at the time of the promotions that was made by Jammeh. All his colleagues were promoted, but he was left out together with another captain colleague of his.
He had just returned from a United Nations Peacekeeping mission from Liberia, when Jammeh refused to promote him. He had sat to an officer’s promotion exams and he passed but was still denied promotion.
Darboe was prevailed upon by his boss, the former Chief of Defense Staff Ndure Cham to stay on job. He says Cham told him that he was planning a coup to overthrow Jammeh, and he was needed on board to execute the coup. He agreed to join Cham to carry out the plot.
Jammeh was on a visit to Mauritania at the time of the coup.
He said they had received support from neighboring Senegal. He and Cham had met with a senior Senegalese army officer, to discuss the planned coup. They also had similar support from Niger. He wouldn’t name names.
Gambia’s former spy chief Daba Marena, and four other army officers were executed during that failed coup.
The government at the time claimed that Marena and co had escaped from custody while being escorted to a jailhouse in Jangjangbureh. Janjangbureh is located in the Central River Region of The Gambia.
Darboe thinks that it was a moral duty and responsibility on his part to partake in a coup to overthrow Jammeh. He says Jammeh’s rule was an affront to democracy and human rights. He adds that many Gambian families have been rendered orphanage–thanks to Jammeh’s tyrannical rule.
Darboe also called for term limit for the Presidency. He said the best way to discourage coups and self perpetual rule, is to introduce term limit for the Presidency.
Darboe has defended his involvement in the March failed coup. He notes that when a government has failed its people, the army is morally obliged to intervene to restore sanity. He says the army’s intervention should be a last resort.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai