Sana Sabally                           Chongan’s former orderly named!!

By Lt. Col. Sam Sarr Lt. Col Sam Sarr.

WHO IS LAMARANA?

 Dear Pa Nderry,

I first wish to register my apology to you and your entire staff over the cynicism I had expressed in the article forwarded by Mr. Lamarana. Frankly speaking for a while I thought you were just trying to provoke me into giving you the interview we had agreed upon weeks ago. If you could recall I did say that I was compiling some materials and would award you the session as soon as I was done with it. We had had that agreement in confidence, with both of us looking forward to the exciting moment. However, when you mentioned the anticipated interview in one of your editorials highlighting the bravery of Chongan and the GNA’s cowardly action during the coup for not defending Jawara, I got the impression that you were a bit impatient over our agreement and was just trying to get it done faster. With what I know now, I was dead wrong. Then from nowhere, the mysterious Lamarana appeared with all the hallmarks of a misplaced character among the reasonable Gambians trying to conduct an enlightening discussion. I knew there was no Gambian of serious significance in that name, especially someone claiming to have been very close to me. Anyway you would never believe in the e-mail I received from London, England last night from somebody claiming to know who Lamarana actually is and whom he could swear was behind the name. First he said Lamarana was a gendarme soldier who was Major Ebrima Chingan’s orderly, but his last name was Barry and not Jallow. In his conclusion he tried to make me believe in him to the point of saying that he had heard Chongan saying the exact words about me in social gatherings they had attended together. The guy calls himself Samba Jaharang a name that I know does not exit either.

 In fact, I tried to call Chongan last light to put him in the picture but unfortunately his wife Awa told me that he had traveled to Belgium. I will probably try him again tonight over the issue. Anyway just like Lamarana, I can bet that there is no one in the name of Samba although I strongly believe that the two have something do with each other. I don’t know whether you are with me on the same page but I think that this Lamarana had schemed a master plan of driving a malicious wedge between me and Chongan by using everything he knows about us to reinforce his authenticity.

What he is also missing like any other thing he had tied to use wrongly to his advantage is that Chongan and I have been sharing a lot together, and nothing could make me view him differently from the great person he is. He was never that kind of person before, not now and could never be one in the future. You could take that to the bank. But I have said this before; rascals may not tell the truth but could poison the minds of the innocent.

With perhaps a little fact finding, based on the contents of the smear articles, you would have been able to verify the validity of Lamarana’s allegations. Before threatening through my private e-mail for opening a case file about my atrocities committed in the Gambia while serving in the GNA, I think you could have used a little bit of that valuable time to check on the following. 1. On the torture of Yaya Drammeh one of the mercenaries who attacked Farafeni barracks and killed eight Gambian soldiers, Lamrana talked briefly about Mr. Lamin Joberteh the legal officer at the NIA then. Perhaps a call to Mr. Joberteh would have helped you with the information that I was from Moscow flying to Belgium when Farafeni was attacked in October 1996. By the time I arrived in the Gambia, early the next morning, Yaya Drammeh and Mballow Kanteh were already arrested and detained at the NIA. Mr. Joberteh the legal wizard mentioned in the text was all along part of the interrogation team that handled the case. The gentleman is at home with a clean conscience and as far as I know he is very honest. If he could confirm Lamarana’s allegation that I tortured Yaya Drammeh then consider me guilty as charged in that case.

2. The name of Babucarr Jatta had also surfaced as my superior whom he said I had physically assaulted and was to be tried for the crime if I had not left the Gambia sooner. Nothing is truthful about that and with little bit of patience for that special interview, I would have given you the facts with official documents currently in my possession. But I wouldn’t blame you that much because I think you were to some extent thinking that I was unwilling to share any information with you.

3. Last but not the least I will now address the case of Swaibou Conateh. Again Lamarana doesn’t know that the journalist had married his first wife the late Fatou Conteh from our house in Serekunda. Fatou and I were born and raised in that same house until Swaibou married and took her away. When I was arrested and incarcerated at Mile Two Swaibou and fatou shared the grief like all our family members and tried everything by their means to secure my freedom. Swaibou was a close friend to Mr. Bakary Darbo who was at the time the minister of Finance and I know that they had tried to use his influence to help me out with obviously no success. Although Fatou died years ago, Swaibou still respects and treats me as his brother-in-law. He was even in New Youk a couple of years ago and we had a nice brotherly chat together. Those three damning points critically needed observation or clarification. As for the trial by TV, that was no secret for him to threaten me with providing the tapes for the Freedom Paper as evidence. If that tape is needed I can equally get it for your paper. At least you could tag it with my name known to almost everybody in the Gambia.

 Yes we were wrong according to the law to try them on TV and being wrong again when we did it in the Kartong attack in July 1997. But to be honest with you it was more out of ignorance than a deliberate flouting of the law. I will definitely plead guilty to that allegation before any jury. But you must also understand that as a young army trying to adjust in a post-coup d’tat era, a breakthrough coup d’tat for that matter mistakes like that cannot be justified but might not be that grave as other troubling matters given the numerous young lives wasted in that senseless attack. The soldiers were not fighting back but running away from their attackers; yet one by one they murdered them in cold blood.

To conclude my argument, I want to once again apologize to all of you for being cynical yesterday but with a warning from a concerned brother to be mindful of faceless critics with no name or identity. Critics like Lamrana Barry, Jallow, Sarr or whatever, should be challenged to own up to what they want to accuse people of doing if professionalism and integrity is to be preserved in these trying times. You said in one of your private mails to me something to the effect of being suspicious over my avoidance to criticize President Jammeh since this hot debate over Sana sabally started. All I have to say is that the topic was as far as I had perceived it all about Sana and not Jammeh. Anyway by next week or so I will give you the exact date my autobiography would be published in all major book stores in the USA. The book is however entitled “Coup d’ tat By The Gambian National Army” July 22nd 1994. It’s a comprehensive book, about three hundred pages in volume narrating my whole life before the GNA, during and after. Everything about the coup before, during and after was covered. I was waiting for the date from my publishers to give you my first interview. And I still want to wait for the date before the interview. So please just bear with me for a short while and I promise we will come to great terms. Thank you for the attention. Cheers! Lt. Col. Sam Sarr Lt. Col Sam Sarr.

………………………………………………..

Editors note: Thanks Colonel Sarr for setting the records straight. The Freedom Newspaper harbored no grudges against you. Lamarana’s opinions cannot influence the position of this paper. From the word go, we issued a disclaimer disassociating  ourselves from his pieces.

As stated earlier, we are not in the position to disclose his identity for ethical reasons. We can also assure you that your good friend Ebrima Chongan have no ties with Lamarana Jallow. Your source must have misinformed you. We don’t know what your source’s objective is, but you owe an apology to Chongan.

  For your information this paper has been reprimanded in the past by Chongan who blamed us for attacking you in one of our editorials. This was the piece we branded former GAF officials as cowards. That you allowed the junta led by Jammeh to topple Jawara’s government. The said piece never went down well with your comrade Chongan. God can bear us witness on Changan’s statement in defense of you. Chongan had the belief that people like you should be encouraged to talk and not to be antagonized. We are compelled to disclose the private conversation we had with Chongan since he is being blackmailed by an unknown Gambian.

The Freedom Newspaper owes no obligations to Chongan, Sarr or anybody. All what we are saying here is the truth but nothing but the truth. Sarr should do his home work right to further investigate who must have been behind the said revelations against him. We can confirm that the person he named was not the true Lamarana Jallow. It’s only Lamarana who can reveal his identity and not us. Nothing can make us disclose his identity. Period!!!

We never confirmed that you killed Yaya Drammeh. As a responsible paper, we went as far as trying to solicit reaction from your end to throw light on Lama’s wild allegations. As far as we are concerned, such unsubstantiated allegations can only be established if proven  by a competent court of law. Thanks for throwing light into Lama’s allegations.

We shall continue to accord you the respect you deserved, like any other contributor here at Freedom. We have never at any given time implied that what Lamarana reported about you was the truth. All, what  we wanted from your end was to shed light on his grave allegations.

Having said that, we want to commend Colonel Sarr for  his brevity for accepting responsibility on their side to expose the Farafenni attackers into trial by media. We must also acknowledge that Sarr has really touched our nerves by admitting his past mistakes in the open. Very few people can do that. Due to fear and personality cut problem our leaders hardly accepts their past  mistakes. President Jammeh and others should emulate Sarr. It’s a bold move. It’s no crime to own up to one’s past mistakes. In fact, it’s a sign of brevity to admit one’s past mistakes. Sarr has won our respect as far as the said incident was concerned.

Regarding the proposed interview,  Sam was right that we prematurely disclosed it ahead of time. Our good friend is here by assured that there was nothing sinister about it. If  Sam was a useless officer, honestly speaking our paper would not have identified him as a guest for an interview. Based on his past writings about the junta, we deem  it necessary to interview him. Former officers like Sam should help the media to expose Yahya Jammeh. Information is power. Sam is one of the few former officers speaking out at this hour and we praised him for his gallant move.  Whether Sam knows it or not he is major news maker. His stories attracts a lot of hits when published here on Freedom and elsewhere. Sarr should have capitalized on the kind gesture accorded to him to tell us his story.

 Gambians  have their own personal opinions on people who served Jammeh’s government, but as journalists we try to remain neutral in the due execution of our duties. We shall not close our doors to people who served Jammeh’s government. Serving Jammeh’s government don’t make one a criminal or a bandit. There are decent ones out of the lot,  who should be encouraged to expose the dictatorship.

People make informed decisions based on what we report. Sam was right when he commented about the dangers of misinformation. But we must add that his reaction came rather too late. To minimize any possible damage on his reputation,  Colonel Sarr should have reacted the very day news of Lamarana’s killing and persecution allegations against him hits the news stand. But Sam waited for days before reacting. This was a big mistake on his side. Assuming that Lamarana’s allegations were false, that should not stop him from setting the records straight.

Finally, we apologize for any discomfort Lamarana’s pieces might have caused to Mr.Sarr, his family, loved ones and supporters. We want to assure Colonel Sarr and Lamarana Jallow himself that this paper is only interested about the truth and nothing but the truth. Lamarana is entitled to his opinion just like Colonel Sarr. If allegations of this nature are raised in the future against Sarr or any officer who served under Jammeh’s government should come forward to defend the allegations and not to blame us for carrying the role of a messenger. Thanks for your attention.

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2007 (Archive on Monday, July 23, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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