By Rohey Jadama
Former minister Yankuba Touray has denied claims that he attended a meeting of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council on the day he is accused of participating in the murder of the Finance minister.
Touray told the High Court in Banjul that council meetings were held only on Tuesday, contrary to the claims of his former orderly, Ensa Mendy (the second prosecution witness) and driver Lamin Ndour (the fourth prosecution witness).
He said on the morning of the Friday his finance Cabinet colleague Ousman Koro Ceesay was killed in June 1995, he was with Ensa Mendy, but in the afternoon the orderly left for the weekend.
Here are excerpts from the exchange between Touray and his lawyer, Abdoulie Sissoho.
Sissoho: What are the duties of an orderly to a commissioned officer?
Touray: An orderly attends to a commissioned officer during official working hours.
Sissoho: Ensa Mendy, who is Prosecution Witness 2, informed the court that he was your bodyguard. Is that correct, sir?”
Sissoho: In a regimental army like the Gambia Armed Forces, do commissioned officers have bodyguards?
Sissoho: As a member of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, did you have a bodyguard?
Touray: Members of the AFPRC did not have bodyguards except for the chairman and vice-chairman, who both had bodyguards, protocol officers, and principal protection officers in addition to the ADC (aide-de-camp).
Touray said Jali Musa Sowe was also his orderly. Ensa Mendy and Jali Musa Sowe worked two-day shifts.
Sissoho: Can you tell the court how Lamin Ndour, who was your driver, carried out his duties while serving you?
Touray: He drives me daily during working hours and when we close work, he leaves for home.
Sissoho: On that Friday, while at State House, did you send Lamin Ndour and Ensa Mendy to your house?
Touray said he took part in the Friday congregational prayer in Banjul and then went home to Kerr Serign. He gave both Ensa Mendy and Lamin Ndour fare to go off duty for the weekend, then he ate lunch and took a nap.
He said that in the evening, he received a call from the chairman of AFPRC, then Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, asking him to reschedule a meeting, which could not take place in the afternoon. He said Jammeh invited him to a meeting at State House.
“I took the July 22nd Movement file containing the minutes of a meeting regarding the mobilisation and sensitisation programme. I drove to State House,” Touray said.
Sissoho: Where was Ensa Mendy?
Touray: Ensa Mendy had left already. I did need not tell him anything because it was routine for the orderlies to change their shifts. Jali Musa Sowe alias JM Sowe automatically had to come on that Friday, and he did.
On arrival at State House, Touray said he was received by Lieutenant Bajinka, Jammeh’s aide-de-camp, and was ushered into Jammeh’s living room, where they had the meeting.
“There was no council meeting as [claimed by] Ensa Mendy and Lamin Ndour [in their testimony in] the court. The meeting was between myself and Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh.”
Sissoho: Was the minister of Finance in that meeting?
Sissoho: Was Edward Singhatey in that meeting?
Sissoho: Was Ebou Jallow in that meeting?
Sissoho: Where was Ebou Jallow?
Touray: He was out of the country.
Sissoho: Was Kaba Bajo in that meeting?
Sissoho: Do you know why Captain Kaba Bajo was not there?
Touray: He (Bajo) was part of the AFPRC chairman’s delegation to Addis Ababa for the OAU summit.
Sissoho: On that day, was there a council meeting?
Touray: No. Council meetings were held only on Tuesday.
Sissoho: Prosecution Witness 2 – Ensa Mendy — and Prosecution Witness 4 – Lamin Ndour, while under oath, told the court that they drove you to State House for a meeting of the AFPRC.
Sissoho: Both Ensa Mendy and Lamin Ndour, while under oath, told the court that they saw you and other council members going upstairs to the chairman’s office for a council meeting.
Sissoho: Both Ensa Mendy and Lamin Ndour, while under oath, said after the alleged meeting you came down and instructed them to go home.
Sissoho: Was Ensa Mendy and Lamin Ndour at the State House with you on the day the chairman was leaving for Ethiopia?
Sissoho: Did you discuss with the chairman the agenda of the meeting?
Touray: The primary objective of the meeting was discussed, which was the sensitisation and mobilisation programme initiated by the July 22nd Movement. We discussed the summary of the meeting (of the July 22nd Movement) and the recommendations therein, which were approved by the chairman of the AFPRC.
He said after the meeting, he sought permission to leave but Jammeh asked him to wait and share snacks with him. He added that the chairman told him to wait and join him on the trip to the airport.
The hearing was adjourned to August 27, 2020 at 2 pm, when Touray was expected to continue with his testimony.