Lalo K. Jaiteh, a former protocol officer to the former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Thursday accused former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that he Sonko told him that they shot late Lt. Almamo Manneh to death.
Explaining the reason of his killing, the witness said Jammeh once called him at his residence at Kanilai and played a cassette that was recorded by Lt. Ousman Sonko who was the second in command at the State Guard at the time, asking whether he recognised those speaking. He added that he told him it sound like Lt. Almamo Manneh and Lt. Landing Sanneh, saying Jammeh told him they were discussing how to overthrow his government.
“Jammeh told me to mobilise the ministers to listen to the cassette. I did and he asked me and other soldiers that were grouped of two sections to go and arrest Sanneh and Manneh. He told me to coordinate the arrest with Ousman Sonko.”
“We left Kanilai with two vehicles and headed to Kombo. When we reached at Sting Corner, we, Sonko received a call and told us to sit and discuss how to carry the arrest. Sonko told us that the former president called him and told him that I and the other soldiers should wait and he (Sonko) and the rest proceeded to Banjul and arrested Lt. Manneh.” According to him, Sonko said that was the easiest way out. “Then I realised that he was my senior, so I agreed. Ousman Sonko, Seedy Baldeh, Omar Sonko and Ismaila Jammeh went to do the arrest.”
The witness continued that after some sometime, Sonko and his team came back and said; “I should also wait for them to go and arrest Sanneh in his house.” After the arrest of Manneh, he said he was told by Sonko that Manneh was dead.
“I went and opened the boot and saw the body of Manneh with blood. I asked what resulted to his death, and Sonko said Manneh shot at them and they also fired back and that resulted to his death.”
When they were going to arrest Sanneh, he said, Sonko asked to stay behind but he refused, insisting Jammeh had ordered both of them.
“When we reached at Sanneh’s compound, I made sure that Sonko did not enter the compound. I went there with some soldiers and knocked but no one opened the door. We surrounded the house and when I looked at one of the doors, I saw Sanneh and his wife called Baby and other people. I saw him making calls and asking where is Almamo but I didn’t know what the other conversation was. I told him we came to arrest you but he was on phone, so I didn’t know whether he was going to call soldiers to attack us or not, but we fired at the door by using grenade launcher and we arrested him.”
When the soldiers took him out, the witness said, they started beating him and he shouted on them that they should to beat him but only to arrest him.
He testified that there was a rumour that Jammeh impregnated one female soldier, who was a relative to Sanneh. He believed that to put the lid on that rumour, he thought that was the reason he killed Sanneh.
He further disclosed that after arresting Sanneh, they took him to Yundum Barrack and returned to Banjul.
“After the arrest, Jammeh told me that if anybody planned a coup d’état, anything that happens to you is your fault.”