Soldier Confesses To Killing Two Students at Brikama-Ba in April 11 Students’ Demo
Staff Sergeant Abdou Giri Njie, has confessed before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Thursday that he fired live rounds, killing two students and injuring seven others at Brikama-Ba during the student demonstration nineteen(19) years ago.
He recalled that he was among four others who were deployed from Farafenni barracks on the 10th of April, 2000 to quell the impending demonstration the next day. He confirmed that each of them were given magazines containing more than 100 live rounds. They also carried blank rounds that were supposed to be used to disperse the demonstrators. According to him, students threatened to kill the school’s principal which they were tasked to prevent.
Njie, who is still a serving member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), told the TRRC that on the early morning of 11th April 2000, his team led by Corporal Lamin Camara, rushed to the Brikama-Ba Upper Basic School to avert any destruction of property.
“All of a sudden, we saw three tractors carrying students coming towards us and that was when they started shouting at us, asking us what we were doing in their school. They were demanding the release of their head boy and assistant head boy and that was when I realized their head boy and the assistant were being held. They (the students), started throwing stones at us and we ran towards the police station because they overcame us. This was when Corporal (Lamin Camara) ordered us to start firing and we started firing.”
“I realized that I had exhausted my blank rounds and that was when I started firing live rounds in the air. After ten minutes, I heard that someone was killed, which is why I cannot deny that I am part of those who killed the students. I cannot deny that I killed because I fired live bullets but I remember only firing in the air. If I shoot at people, I would have killed more than two people. I cannot deny that I killed. I was the second in command,” Njie confessed to the Commission.
He accepted that he killed two students, Ousman Sabally, a student of Brikama Upper Basic School and Sainey Nyabally, a primary school student. He also confessed to causing injuries to seven others including one Ebrima Saidy, a civilian who hails from Fulladu Saruja, a village near Brikama-Ba.
Squeezed by lead counsel Essa Faal that he did not shoot in the air leading to death of students but aimed his shot at them, he responded that if he had shot at them, he would have killed more than two people.
He confirmed firing more than 104 bullets and he later admitted that he killed the students at his own discretion and they died instantly.
According to him, he overreacted to the injury of his colleague, JP Mendy, who had sustained injuries from the stones that hit him on the head as well as seeing students burning tires on the highways. This he said, led him to fire live rounds.
“Personally I knew it is not correct…I fired at GAMTEL because I was also taking cover. I regret my action. I apologize to the people who lost their relatives. It was unintentional.”