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GAMBIA: MARABOUT YAHYA MANJANG SAYS HE ONLY RECOGNISES THE FIFTH ACCUSED PERSON FABAKARY JAWARA

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Yahya Manjang, a marabout from Busura Village in the West Coast Region (WCR) testified in the alleged Coup plotters’ trial before Justice Basiru B.V. P Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia. 

Yahya Manjang appeared in court as the Second Prosecution Witness (PW2) in the case involving four (4) soldiers and one (1) Police Officer. 

The Four (4) Soldiers and one (1) Police Officer are accused of an attempted alleged Coup and been charged with 5 counts including treason. 

The five people charged and on trial are; Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (1st accused) Private Officer, Gibril Darboe (2nd accused) Corporal Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused), and Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused), Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) who is the Police Officer charged alongside the Soldiers. 

Giving his testimony, Yahya Manjang told the court that he is an Islamic Scholar as well as a marabout and he lives in Busura Village in the West Coast Region (WCR). 

The witness told the court that among the accused persons standing trial, he can only recognize the 5th accused person (Fabakary Jawara). 

It is Yahya Manjang’s testimony that In November 2022, one Mustapha Jabbi went to him with Fabakary Jawara and introduced him as a friend. 

“Fabakary Jawara (the 5th accused) told me that the country is very difficult and how things are going is not normal. He asked me to help him with prayers. Fabakary Jawara told me that he wanted me to make lastakar for him. Because one of his brothers or nephew wants to do a coup. I told them that I cannot do for them what they wanted, but I directed them to go to Mauritania, Guinea, or Touba. I also asked them to give out charity of bitter cola and cola nuts and take it to seven different mosques. I advised them to kill one white goat at a Quranic school (dara) which they did in Gunjur,” the witness testified. 

The witness further testified that Fabakary Jawara (the 5th accused) visited him again with his brother or nephew called Sanna. 

Yahya Manjang said the day Fabakary Jawara (the 5th accused) and Sanna went to his house was the first and last time he saw him. 

“I told them that if they want to do a Coup let them go to Mauritania or Touba and look for help. At that time I have a sick person with me that one of my nephews and I was supposed to take him to Senegal for treatment. Later on, I went to Senegal and I saw in the papers that there are people who want to do a Coup in the Gambia. I spent 10 days in Senegal when I came back I realized that those people were arrested with civilians. 

“One week later I was at home and the police came after me from the  Brikama Police Station. They say that I am wanted at the Police Station. That was a Friday night. The Police took me to the NIA in Banjul from the Brikama Police Station on a Monday morning. They told me that they did not know me but some people know me and mention my name there that is why they call me,” the witness testified. 

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution A.M Yusuf appearing for the State asked the witness whether he will recognize Sanna who he said went with Fabakary Jawara to see him.

“I cannot recognize him because he appeared to me at night. But for Fabakary I recognize him,” the witness told the court.

Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that when the Police take him to the Brikama Police Station they asked whether he know anything about the alleged Coup. 

The witness said he told the Police what he knew about the alleged Coup. 

Yahya Manjang said the Police then told him that he will be taken to Banjulinding Police Station and on a Monday Morning he was taken to the NIA in Banjul. 

The witness said when he went to the NIA in Banjul and was asked about the alleged Coup, he told them all he knew. Thereafter, the NIA asked him to call his relatives to come and bail him. 

“My people came they bail me and I went home,” the witness said. 

The lawyer representing the 1st and 5th accused persons senior Counsel L.S Camara asked the witness how many times he allegedly met Fabakary Jawara. 

The witness said he met Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) 3 times. However, he couldn’t remember the days Fabakary Jawara went to his house. 

The witness however told the court that the 3 times Fabakary went to his house, the second and third times were at night but the first time was around 3 pm. 

“When he (Fabakary Jawara) came to your house did he explain his personal problems to you and solicited your spiritual interventions,” Senior Counsel L.S Camara asked? 

“He (Fabakary Jawara) used to tell me his personal problems for me to help him,” the witness responded. 

“I am putting it to you Mr. Manjang that Fabakary Jawara (the 5th accused) never solicited your spiritual intervention in furtherance of a coup,” Senior Counsel L.S Camara told the witness. 

The witness insisted that Fabakary went to his house to solicit his spiritual intervention for Fabakary’s brother or nephew Sanna. 

“The time they came there I was having a problem at hand. Because my nephew was sick and I was told that I should take him to Senegal for treatment before a particular period. Secondly, my wife conceived and her stomach was having an issue that’s why I cannot remember when they came there,” the witness said. 

Senior Counsel LS Camara then told the witness that his mind was mixed up at the time so he doesn’t know who said what to him. 

The witness again insisted that All that was said to him, he can remember that. 

“I can fully remember what Fabakary told me,” he said. 

Senior Counsel LS Camara asked the witness whether he remember meeting one Mustapha Jawara. The witness said he doesn’t know anyone by the name of Mustapha Jawara. 

“Do you remember he asked you to intervene spiritually for Fabakary?” Senior Counsel LS Camara asked. The witness told the court that he does not know. 

“I am putting it to you that this cousin or brother of Fabakary, Sanna never visited you,” Senior Counsel LS Camara put it to the witness. 

“He came there once,” the witness responded. 

“I am also putting it to you Mr. Manjang that neither Fabakary Jawara nor Sanna spoke to you about any planned coup,” LS Camara again told the witness. 

The witness insisted that Fabakary Jawara and Sanna visited him about a planned coup. 

Counsel Yankuba Darboe representing the 2nd accused made the following query of the witness,

“Mr. Manjang you said that if they want to do a coup, they need to go to Mauritania, Touba, or Guinea. You also said you asked them to give out bitter cola, Colanut, and white goat as charity. What was that charity for, if you already told them to go to Mauritania, Guinea, or Touba.?” 

“The reason why I asked them to give out that charity is because they want to do a coup,” the witness said. 

Counsel Yankuba Darboe: So why did you ask them to go to Mauritania if you already saw it in your spiritual reading (lastakar) that they should give out charity.?”

“The prayer they needed from me I cannot do it. That’s why I asked them to go to Mauritania Guinea or Touba,” the witness said. 

“There is nowhere in the Gambia that prayer can be performed?” Counsel Darboe asked. 

“It can be done here but the reason I asked them to got to Mauritania Guinea or  Touba is that I want to pull myself out of it,” the witness responded. 

Counsel Darboe asked the witness Why did he ask them to give out charity when he wanted to pull himself out of it. The witness responded that when someone comes to you as a marabout you should look at the issue and see what you can do about it. 

“The reason you have given two conflicting accounts here is that you were never asked to do a spiritual reading (lastakar) in this case. You have never seen any charity they supposed to take out and you have not seen that their prayers will be answered in Guinea, Mauritania, or Touba,” Counsel Darboe told the witness. 

The case was adjourned to the 21st of February  2023 at 1 pm for continuation. 

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