How Jammeh’s Junta Torture Pro-PPP Demonstrators In 1994

AFPRCBy Yaya Dampha

Not all Gambians jumped on the caravan of then Lt. Yahya Jammeh’s AFPRC [Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council] in 1994 when President Jawara was overthrown. There were quite a good number of formidable citizens who mobilised themselves and laid down their lives to restore the ousted PPP [People’s Progressive Party] regime in office. Their story needs to be told, understood and chronicled for the purpose of future use.

These gallent men and women planned to launch a massive pro-PPP demonstration opposite the American embassy compound in Fajara.

However, this was thwarted by members of Gambia National Army. On the day of the planned demonstration, soldiers hatched a strategy aimed at outsmarting the already energised demonstrators. They hijacked taxis and started driving on the streets of Banjul, Bakau, Serekunda and Brikama. These disguised taxi drivers lingered around strategic locations where they would pick up demonstrators with a promise to drop them off at the American embassy. Once they got in to these taxi their next stop would be Fajara military barracks where they would be detained and tortured. This was how many of the planned demonstrators found themselves in the lion’s den.

Those rounded up and detained illegally included former Minister of Agriculture Mr. Omar Amadou Jallow, Ousainou Njie of Banjul, Lang Hawa Sonko of Jarra Badumeh and Lawyer Ousanou Darboe. Ousainou Darboe (the current leader of United Democratic Party) who was at the time suffering from eye infection (apolo) was not physically tortured. But the soldiers intentionally placed 100 wats light bulbs over Mr. Darboe’s head purposely to destroy his eyes. Luckily, Darboe was released from detention by night fall.

These tortures were singlehandedly coordinated by Captain Edward Singatey, the former Defense Minister of the AFPRC. The torture team comprised of personal guards of Captain Singhatey and Sanna B. Sabally, the junta’s Vice Chairman who was later arrested, detained and court-martialed on a coup d’etat that was never contemplated.

Other AFPRC Council members visited the detainees and instructed Krubally, an army armourer to serve as the physical training instructor tasked with taking the detainees for early morning running exercise.

The torture team sent two soldiers – Micheal Secka alias Dukakis and Jallow – to the Gambia Public Transport Corporation (GPTC) headquarters to cut hard rubber on the edge of bus tyres. These rubbers were used to beat the arrested men and women most of whom were stripped naked from head to toe. Another soldier with the last name Krubally was sent to bring gallons of petrol and cotton wool. The torture team inserted petrol soaked cotton in detainees’ ears and private parts and forced to bend in front of table and stand fans. The team relaxed and enjoyed how the detainees grimaced in excruciating pain emanating from their most holy body part. They felt like dying anytime the fan blew air, one source said.

Not every detainee was subjected to this horrible type of torture. One female relative of the ousted President Jawara was among those who tasted this hard-to-swallow pill. For moral and other reasons, this lady’s identity will be hidden. Sound of her cries for help filled the air yet she was allowed to suffer in pain. She bled profusely, a clear sign that she might be going through some womanly complications but the heartless soldiers never gave in, insisting she was going through her monthly menstruation. The woman survived the torture, although she would surely develop gynecological problems along the way but her four months old pregnancy baby died. Worst of all, the soldiers who took the innocent lady to hell roamed the streets with pride as if they were not brought into this world by a woman, God’s dignified creation tasked with the noble responsibility of conceiving and giving birth to babies.

Majority of the tortured detainees, including Omar Amadou Jallow who sustained serious injury on his eyes (this is why he wears lenses), were physically tortured. Many died months after their release.

As a human rights and media activist, I felt the need to dig into this very important but forgotten or less understood story. I will do my best to bring more unreported or forgotten crimes committed by our “Soldiers with a Difference.” Indeed, they were soldiers who spoke to us in a language we didn’t understand in 1994. That is the language of tyranny, brutality, disappearances, extrajudicial killings, among others.



  1. Gratitude to those coming forward with their stories. There is nothing to be ashamed of. For so long, the calculus has been that if an elderly person is tortured and that maltreatment become publicised, that person loses his/her Aura of credibility and dignity. Henceforth, they were able to create an environment of silence and shamefulness.
    Let us not allow this guys beat us, by using our culturally held values in a perverted way.

  2. Thank you for this information…It is invaluable…
    This is the only way these criminals can be held to account and they will be held to account, God willing…

  3. I do not even believe that most people jumped into the so-called bandwagon. As a civil servant at the time of the coup, my observation was that majority of Gambians objected to the coup but had no means of reversing it because of the army’s superior fire power.

  4. Mba koko! We need more of these untold stories.

    • Thank GOD these people were not killed. Malang how about those who were killed using 9 inch nails into their heads? Even APRC members and his own family members were horribly killed by Jammeh and his thugs. You see Malang, this practice of brutality and disregard for the constitution and the rule of law is why Gambians hate Yaya Jammeh.
      Now Malang please think again before supporting Yaya Jammeh, killing is like drinking water for this beast.

    • That is an illful attitude @Malang, when people are saying the facts sorrounding their daily lifes, instead of stories telling, while heartless, hateful and badminded wicked hearts throw in flavorless gaffs like ko.ko.ko.ko hell of it. It should be understood, you are trying the outdated illful Gambian method by trying to make fun of and twist around the realities of the terrible condition of proples lifes and the country.
      It is of my opinion that many Gambians lack a proper sense of humor due to boring translits. like Mbakoloko the sloth of it.

  5. Our stories must not be left untold.

  6. How excruciating a pain, one feels like, by just reading this pathetic devilish story, much more those underwent the tortures itself…???

    The devil advocates who partook in this & other despicable acts against humanity since July 1994, will ALL account for the crimes committed…

    In order to succeed to lay down foundation of democracy, decency & prosperity for our motherland; we must aspire to divulge information, particularly injustices & crimes against humanity….

    No devilish idolatrous tendencies can ever match the will of a determined people; particularly those of genuine Gambians….

  7. Africa Africa Africa the world is fighting for economic growth and development. Africans are still fighting for freedom democratic, when will African change? Next world I don’t think so, is very sad 😩

  8. “We have to change the system to represent our better selves ” president Obama .
    What is currently going on in The Gambia is worst of our collective selves . Jammeh represent the worst of The Gambia and it is historic mistake which we will continue to learn in hard way . Those Gambians who stood up against the coup in the early days of dictatorial regime represent our better selves because they knew at the time the nation was leading in wrong direction . Some of them were arrested , tortured and eventually taken to court because they stood up what was their constitutional rights . Today majority of Gambian people wish that jammeh and his gang of thugs never took power .

  9. Sadly, the Gambians who stood up against the coup in the early days of dictatorial regime, representing our ‘better selves’, have not been heard of when Sir Dawda himself called on a congress in the early nineties or so, to assert the need for a different page political process within his own party and, even stated the need for a new party leader to lead the PPP, in a Mansa Konko session, was the occasion some sources have claimed to see statesmen crying tears.
    In my viewpoint, most of the people who supported the coup then with joy, were some middle aged and young boys fresh from high school or college perhaps because they have contemplated on a Thomas Sankara African project being fully accomplished by a conceivably intelligent young Gambian military junta. This indeed, to the surprise of majority of Gambians, was not the case. Indeed these young officers were misguided young men aching for more food and comfort in life. These young military men are not an authentic state security. In reality they are freak soldiers of the streets who demonstrate the Rambo in them whenever they could. They have seen the public offices they seized as glory for them and those around them. They trashed the country’s foundamental constitution, incarcerated, murdered and did not stopped corruption from being rampant across the country but now have family hallmarked corruption and officially privatised it.

  10. So sad. Mother Gambia!!

    When will our tears stop???

    What have we done to deserve these???

  11. Gambia- because we overly downplay everything and that coupled with complacency and lack of the ability to cooperate to salvage a situation detrimental to all. We have to learn the art of getting outraged, get mobilised towards action. Otherwise nothing changes.

  12. Gambia , your question is very important one and I think the answer to your question lies on Gambian people’s collective selves or will . Each citizen should ask himself or herself whether we are truthful , honest and decent when we are dealing with our national issue . I believe jammeh is Gambian’s creation and he is true reflection of worst of us collectively . How many Gambians truly stand in The Gambia to condemn him when he announced That Gambia is Islamic state ? A very few Gambians.
    The rest of the population including so called Muslim elders endorsed their ignorance obsession with Islam and hypocritically it is the same Muslim elders who never speak out against injustices , human rights violations , lawlessness and corruption in the country . They are the very group of people since 1994 who always endorsed every erractic decision made by jammeh ranging from the call for him to stand for election as civilian to his recent divisive announcement . The moral decadence of our religious leaders resulted to curent predicament the country is facing . Jammeh is using them every step of the way , whether it is their ignorance belief that he is promoting Islam or their lack of understanding the true meaning of Islam ,one has to wonder . When you have religious fanatics or ignorance religious folks given a blanket endorsement to a tyrant whose preoccupation Is to remain in power forever then it becomes extremely dangerous to have peace , justice and development in the country . It is ignorance beliefs among Gambians that without war or conflict that we are living in peace in the country . Peace has to do with sustain freedom of human mind from fear , terror , bigotry , harassment and discrimination . Gambian people are not living in peace as majority want us to believe , instead they live in fear , state sponsored terrorism , discrimination , harassment and bigotry. This is the fact we must all acknowledge in our private moment . It is the denial of this basic fact that we live in current situation .