Exiled Gambian soldier Sulayman Sano, is our guest today on Freedom Radio Gambia. Mr. Sano, who now lives in Dakar, Senegal, was implicated in a coup led by Ex Captain Alhagie Kanteh. He will explain how Saul Ndow, the Gambian businessman, introduced him to Captain Kanteh, the former Governor of the North Bank region to plot a coup against Jammeh. The late Baba Kajali Jobe, was present when Sano, a former State Guard heavy weapon expert was recruited into the plot to overthrow the regime of dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Mr. Sano recalled meeting the coup leader Kanteh, who now lives in Switzerland, on numerous occasions. He tells Freedom Radio Gambia that the coup financier Saul Ndow, allegedly gave $ 30,000 dollars to Mr. Kanteh for the operations to topple the Jammeh regime. Sano, who is widely known as “ustass” said Kanteh only gave him D200 dalasi, which is less than ten United States dollars. He said Abdoulie Sanyang, a former Military police officer, now living in Zurich, Switzerland, can bear him witness about the funds that Mr. Ndow, allegedly allocated for the failed coup.
Mr. Sano warns Gambians in the diaspora to be wary of folks who worked with Jammeh and turn around and claim to be “strugglers.” He said one of the reasons why Yahya Jammeh is still in power is because of such phony folks, who are using the suffering of The Gambian people to promote their own selfish agenda. He branded such folks as traitors, false pretenders, and enemies of the suffering masses.
Mr. Alhagie Kanteh, could not be reached for his own side of the story. A call was placed on his Skye, but he was not reachable, Mr. Sano said he is challenging Kanteh to come forward to clear the air.
Mr. Sano said he attended couple of meetings with Kanteh and others in which the plot to overthrow Jammeh was discussed. He said Jammeh’s foreign bodyguard (Security Adviser) Francisco Caso, an Italian national, was also part of the scheme. Caso was hired by Jammeh as his personal bodyguard and national security adviser.
According to Mr. Sano, he was tasked by Caso, to operate one of the combat trucks stationed at the State House on the day of the operation. The plan was for Mr. Caso, to lure Jammeh to leave Kanilai, Jammeh’s home villa, and upon Jammeh’s arrival in Denton Bridge, where Sano was assigned to barricade the road with the combat truck, the convoy carrying Jammeh would ran over the truck. Once Jammeh’s convoy is engulfed in an accident, Sano said it was his duty to behead Jammeh and take his head to the leader of the coup.
Unfortunately, the coup never materializes. Caso, was the double agent planted to leak the coup to Yahya Jammeh. The coupists got busted. Sano, was able to escape to neighboring Senegal, after a massive manhunt spearheaded by The Gambian government. His home was raided by Jammeh’s guards.
Mr. Sano travelled by sea on board the then “Le Jola boat” from Casamance to Dakar, Senegal. He has been living in Senegal with his family since 2002.
Mr. Sano also explained during the hour and half long interview, how President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, was toppled by army officers led by dictator Yahya Jammeh. Mr. Sano was Jawara’s bodyguard at the time of the coup. He recalled his commander Lamin Kaba Bajo, telling him to drive Jawara’s kids to the ports of Banjul, where an America Navy ship was anchored. President Jawara was already on board the ship.
Sano later escorted Jawara’s kids into the boat, where he met the President. By the time he knew what was going on, the America ship has already departed from the ports. He said Jawara was also taken aback by the sudden departure of the boat.
The ship later arrived in Dakar, Senegal, where President Jawara and his entourage took refuge. Sano, insisted that he will return to Banjul, and report to work, but he was advised not to return home.
Despite repeated pleas for Sano to reconsider his decision to return home, Sano was still adamant. President Jawara prayed for the young soldier before parting company with the old man.
Sano safely arrived home without an incident. He was reassigned to another unit of the army, before he was recalled to report to the State Guard, where he served as a heavy weapon expert.
Mr. Sano said Jawara was betrayed by the likes of former Vice President Saikou Sabally. He said Mr. Sabally was to some degree complicit in the 1994 coup.
Mr. Sano and the leader of the coup Yahya Jammeh had a rough past during his recruit days as a Gendarmerie officer. Mr. Jammeh was one of his instructors. Sano recalled having an altercation with Jammeh, when Mr. Jammeh tried to force them to walk from the Yundum barracks, to depot Bakau. He said Jammeh was shouting , cursing and kicking them. In some occasions, Jammeh would asked the recruits to crawl on the hot road.
When Sano complained to his superiors about the mistreatment he suffered in the hands of Jammeh, Yahya was arrested and detained at the then Kombo Station.
Mr. Sano also used the interview to call on his Mandinka brothers and sisters to vote against Jammeh in the upcoming elections. He said Jammeh represents disaster, underdevelopment, and a bleak Gambia. Please join us on air later this afternoon to listen to Sano’s interview. Stay tuned.