Opinion: Singhateh’s disappointing testimony
By Basidia M Drammeh:
The Gambia was recently thrown into a state of veritable mass hysteria when word came out that former AFPRAC/APRC stalwart Edward Singateh was in town to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) about his alleged role in a slew of human rights violations.
Gambians, who have long been perplexed about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the gruesome murder of former Finance Minister Osman Koro Cessay were anxiously to hear directly from the horse’s mouth. The testimony which was streamed live attracted thousands of viewers both inside and outside the country. Gambians were hoping and praying that the former AFPRC Chairman would be bold enough to own up to his personal responsibility for this heinous crime and bring closure to this longstanding issue but he did not. Once could imagine the sense of devastation and dismay that must have beset Koro’s family at the end of Signateh’s marathon testimony.
Meanwhile Singateh has masterfully played the victim card, referring to a plot by November 11 coupists to kill Council members and their family members and referring to AFPRC council members as young in their 20s. Never mind that he was the chief architect of the July 22 military takeover that deposed former PPP regime under the late Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
Singateh consistently denied direct involvement in the torture of Mile 2 inmates, in the aftermath of the 1994 coup, despite consistent evidence to the contrary. According to him, he was there just briefly! Equally, he has flatly denied knowledge or involvement in the gruesome murder of former Finance Minister Koro Ceesay though he has been confronted with multiple evidence confirming his complicity. Koro’s family, who have been eagerly waiting for this day for closure must be surely devastated.
Signateh used his legal prowess to mislead the TRRC, some would say, hence avoiding self-indictment. As such he admitted collective responsibility, rather than personal responsibility for the November 11 killings and other alleged atrocities.
Cognizant of religious and cultural sentiments of the Gambian society, Signateh kept repeating sir, ya Imam and occasionally invoked God in a well-calculated move to draw the sympathy of the Commission.
Signateh’s body language drastically changed in the last session as opposed to his initial appearances suggesting that he might be hiding something.
Singhateh was apparently frustrated with Lead Counsel who was determined to extract the truth so he turned to the Chairman as if he is complaining of victimization and insubordination at the hands of the Counsel. Faal was equally frustrated saying that the sky might fall without establishing the truth.
One thing struck me most in Singhateh’s testimony is that he didn't show genuine remorse nor did he shed a tear while expressing” sorrow”.
By the end of his marathon testimony that lasted 3 days, Gambians were largely frustrated, some even enraged, that Signateh failed to own up to his alleged involvement in the murder of Koro Ceesay.
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