By Ousman A. Marong
Former Chief of Defense Staff, Lt. General Lang Tombang Tamba, on Wednesday, concluded his marathon three-day testimony at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), giving an account of his involvement in the drafting of a press release about the disappearance of the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Daba Marena and four other security detainees while they were being transferred to the Janjanbureh Prison.
It would be recalled that Daba Marena and four other security personnel were arrested in 2006 accused of complicity in the coup attempt led by CDS Ndure Cham and according to the press release issued by the Inspector General of Police; all four of them escaped on their way to Janjanbureh and were never seen again.
“It was on that faithful day that I received a telephone call from the late Tumbul Tamba that Daba Marena, together with his co-security detainees were on their way to the Janjanbureh prison when they requested for the vehicle to stop as they wanted to urinate. It was during this time that he said Marena, together with the other detainees ran into different directions and escaped. I asked him whether they were not in handcuffs and he said no,” Tamba explained.
General Tamba said he was later summoned to a meeting with other security chiefs at the office of the Inspector General of Police, Ousman Sonko on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh to issue a press release on the escape. He told the Commission that former President Jammeh later called him to ask how far they had gone with the press release. He said it was he, together with the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ousman Sonko, former Director General of the NIA, Harry Sambou and Tumbul Tamba from the Office of the President who drafted the press release but that it was issued in the name of the IGP.
He said in addition to getting the press release broadcast on the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), they also made a statement calling on anybody who knew the whereabouts of Marena and his co-detainees should report to the nearest police stations or military installation.
Narrating about his own ordeal at the NIA after he was arrested in 2009 accused of complicity in a coup attempt, General Tamba accused some army officers imprisoned of complicity in the 2006 coup attempt of falsely setting him up as a form of revenge for his role in their conviction. He however said he was never tortured during his detention. While he said the Junglers were instructed to torture him, but they did so.
“Solo Bojang instructed the junglers for us to be tortured but the junglers never tortured me. They were beating the tables in the NIA premises in order to convince Solo Bojang that they (the junglers) were torturing us during the interrogation. They then asked us to pretend to be limping so that Solo would be convinced that we were tortured,” said General Tamba.