One of the main architects of the 1994 military takeover Wednesday rebutted that Nigerian military command endorsed toppling down of the Jawara regime.
“I don’t believe they (Nigerian officers) were talking enough to Gambian soldiers,” Edward Singhatey told the ongoing Ninth Session of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
The former Junta Defense Minister was instrumental in the planning and execution of the July 1994 coup d’état that put an end to three-decade rule of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – a political organisation that led The Gambia to independence. The Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) ruled the country with iron fist, committing atrocities against civilians and security agents. Atrocities were among the tools the ex-Junta members used to entrench themselves in power.
As a protagonist of the 1994 coup, Singhatey said the coupists were working freely under the nose of Nigerian soldiers.
Singhatey was led by TRRC’s Lead Counsel Essa Faal. He said that Nigerian military command was not aware that a coup was in the making and gave it a blind eye. Rather, Singhatey insisted that the Nigerian military were not privy to the secret plan to overthrow the PPP regime.
Singhatey’s testimony contradicted assertions of earlier TRRC witnesses that Nigerians were informed about the planned coup and did nothing to stop it.
Singhatey, who is now a legal practitioner, however conceded that the coup was leaked as some soldiers were arrested and taken to the National Security Service (NSS), the State intelligence agency. This situation that prompted the military command to take drastic measures, including disarming the suspected coup plotters.
Paradoxically, the way things turned out on D-Day did not compel the determined 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 to help train and equip the Gambia National Army (GNA).