One of the main architects of the 1994 military takeover, Edward Singhateh, rebutted Wednesday evidences presented before the truth commission, suggesting that Nigerian soldiers endorsed the move taken by some of their Gambian counterparts to topple down the Jawara regime.
“I don’t believe they (Nigerian officers) were talking enough to Gambian soldiers,” Singhateh told the ongoing Ninth Session of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
The former strongman of the Junta that seized power in July 1994 was instrumental in the planning and execution of the coup d’état that put an end to three-decade rule of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – a political organisation that led Gambia to independence. A lot of atrocities were reportedly committed under the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) as ex-Junta members kept on entrenching themselves in power.
As a protagonist of the July 1994 coup, Singhateh said the coupists were working freely under the nose of Nigerian soldiers.
Asked by TRRC’s Lead Counsel Essa Faal as to whether the Nigerian military command was aware that a coup was in the making and gave it a blind eye, Singhateh stood firm on his grounds, making it very clear they were not privy to the secret tied to the plan to overthrow the PPP regime.
However, some witnesses who appeared before the commission insisted that the Nigerians were informed about the planned coup and did nothing to stop it.
Singhateh, who is now a legal practitioner, also conceded that the coup was leaked as some soldiers were arrested and taken to the National Security Service (NSS), the State intelligence agency. A situation that prompted the military command to take drastic measures, such as disarming the suspected coup plotters…
Paradoxically, the way things turned out on D Day did not compel the coupists to refrain from pushing ahead with their plan.
It could be recalled that the Nigerian Army Training Assistance Group (NATAG) arrived in The Gambia in the early 90s. They were tasked with the responsibility to help train and equip Gambia National Army (GNA).
Written by Abdoulie John