By Alusine Sesay
The second prosecution witness in the on-going court martial trial of 14 alleged mutineers, 18165205 Sergeant Mamadu Jalloh, yesterday testified that the first accused person, Private Momoh, told him at Teko Barracks that they had no plan to overthrow the government but intend to arrest the President and take him to the various barracks across the country so that he would see the current deplorable state of amenities therein, and pressurize him into increasing the salaries of soldiers.
Sergeant Jalloh testified that 10 August, 2013, one Sergeant Major Jalloh approached him at home and informed him that he was wanted by a certain Major A.T. Kamara, who was the Forces Intelligence Security Officer (FISO) attached to Teko Barracks in Makeni.
“I went and met him together with one ONS official at the Azzolini highway in Makeni.
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They told me that they have got an intelligence that some soldiers at the barracks wanted to create problem. They again told me that two among them were Private Gbassay and Private Momoh,” he told the court.
He said the military intelligence officer entreated him to ascertain the authenticity of the intelligence. “They gave me transport and I returned to the barracks where I met Private Gbassay,” he said.
The witness further explained how he enquired with Private Gbassay whether he knew any lady by the name of FA, who had asked about the accused.
He continued that: “I told (Private) Gbassay that both of us should go to FA and he told me that he didn’t have transport. I assured him that I will be responsible and both of us to board a motorbike to FA, who stays at Timbo in Makeni.”
He said both of them entered the lady’s compound, but the latter denied knowing the accused.
“We left the compound and on our way back I pretended as if I was a party to him and asked whether they had any program ahead, and he replied yes. He further told me that they have a civilian supporter who frequently visited the barracks with a black jeep,” he said. “I again asked him as to what the program was about and he told me that it was all but to get rid of our commanders.”
The witness told the court Private Gbassay informed him that they had plotted to eliminate their commanders whenever they would be having their command group conference.
“He told me that he was asked to block the main entrance to the hall and start the killing,” the witness told the court. “I asked him why do they want to carry out such a mission and he replied that the commanders were deducting monies from their monthly salaries to run a canteen, which did not benefit them.”
The second prosecution witness further told the court that Private Gbassay had informed him that the (accused persons) had arranged with the stores man, Private Quee, and the sixth accused to supply them with arms for the operation to be successful.
According to him, he told Gbassay that the mission was dangerous, while he (the witness) reported their conversation to one Sergeant Major for the records, and in order that he could not be implicated in the plot.
The witness went on to explain how he met one Captain Prince Sesay who had gone to buy a cup of tea from his (the witness) wife.
“Captain Prince was drinking the tea when Private Momoh arrived at the house and asked my wife to credit him a cup of tea. My wife refused on the grounds that Private Momoh doesn’t pay debt, but he insisted and my wife gave him some, though not on credit,” he said.
After Momoh had finished drinking the tea, he said: “I pretended to him and asked him as to whether they were planning to undertake a mission and he replied yes. I asked him as to whether they had a commander or any other support and he told me that they had a civilian supporter who frequently visited the barracks with a black jeep.”
He said he further asked the first accused the reason for their decision to undertake such a mission, and that Private Momoh replied that it was a revenge mission against commanders, whom he alleged arbitrarily deduct their salaries.
“I asked him as to whether they had the manpower to undertake such a mission and he replied yes. He told me they had men from Teko Barracks, Benguema and other places,” he testified.
He said the first accused replied in the affirmative when asked as to whether they were sure of the mission, adding that the first accused further told him that he had done all the underground work at the bases of the commanders, including the Chief of Defence Staff, and that he understood all the key points.
“I asked him as to whether such was not an overthrow and he replied no, but he conceded that should they succeed they would get hold of the President and take him to the various barracks for him to see the deplorable state of the facilities and force him to increase the salaries of all military personnel. We would release him only if he complies with our demand,” the witness told the court.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, 14 May when the defence counsels are expected to cross-examine the witness.
The 14 men are charged with eight (8) counts of mutiny, conspiracy to mutiny and failure to report a mutiny, but they deny all charges.