Brigadier Kellie Conteh’s
26. I do not mean to be brash in my submission under this topic but please permit me to say simply that I was not aware of the alleged coup of December 1992 nor was I aware of any judicial process for the related trials. Whatever I heard came from hearsay alleging that some officers at Pademba Road Prisons together with some others outside were planning a coup. I was never convinced and I am still not convinced that there was any coup plans for real. If there was, I have always questioned, why did they not arrange for a Courts Martial trial?
27. When some of us raised the question as to whether they were tried, very muffled answers came back. And two quite morally bankrupt senior officers at some stage said they carried out the so-called trials. I knew they were lying and trying to cover up the tragic mess the hasty decision had led the regime.
30. The NPRC established Supreme Council, which was supposed to be the highest forum on National Policies. But like the APC, many key issues of Government was discussed and decided by an inner circle of the coup makers themselves. In many instances such inner circle forum lacked the expertise or guidance to make informed decisions. The decision for the executions of the alleged coup plotters of December 1992 was one such decision. One would have expected the Supreme Council to meet. But that did not happen. Instead, unbeknown to many of us, the inner circle perhaps with some of their friends, met at some place, cooked up some theory and decided to execute the alleged plotters. A similar decision was taken by the inner circle when one Private Turay was abducted from 34 Military Hospital having been shot by an NPRC officer for allegedly plotting a coup. I never saw the soldier again.
31. Another strange aspect of the allegations and the executions was the seeming targeting of Limba Officers. Many NPRC Officers developed an uncompromising attitude against many Limba Officers from the day they took over - a phenomenon that continued perhaps till the end of the NPRC regime. They had come to believe that the Limba Officers had been the benefactors of the APC rule and therefore should not be trusted. I personally found this development very very unfair. I found it very unfair because I knew of many Limba Officers who suffered like anyone else during the APC regime. I knew of Limba Officers who genuinely spoke out against certain APC bad Governance practices. I found it quite disturbing for especially one of the most outspoken Limba Officers who consistently spoke against certain reckless behaviour of the APC to be accused and executed just because of who or what he was. A trial could have allowed for their defence and the truth would have been most likely established.
32. These executions impacted badly on the fighting spirit of many Limba Officers and indeed many other Northerners. The event was on the lips of many serving officers and man either in the field or at home with their families. It was seen as a witch-hunt of particular groups of people and it created distrust amongst the officers.
34. The cumulative effect of the ill-informed strategies and tactic used by the NPRC and their general bad behaviour both publicly and privately was that the RUF remained undefeated, and an Army more undisciplined, confused, disorganised and far less motivated than the one they inherited from the APC.
35. Ranks within the military no longer meant anything unless you had a political office attached to it. They were dished out so frequently and were not attached to the length of service and experience of the holders. It created a breakdown of the promotion system and consequently affected the morale of the troops.
John Oponjo Benjamin’s
As a well meaning Sierra Leonean, I felt internally gratified to be accorded the singular opportunity to make my contribution by way of complementing the objectives of the TRC in its drive to restore sanity, openness and reconciliation to our beloved country. However, on the other side after a careful perusal of the topic under review i.e. “The December 1992 Coup, Trials and Executions”, I felt a little constrained in making meaningful submission for the specific events mentioned, since my knowledge on these events is very limited because they were never within my official responsibilities.
I was Chief Secretary of State until November 1992 when I was transferred to the post of Secretary of State in the Chairman’s Office, where my responsibility at that time was to carry out jobs assigned to me by the then Head of State, Captain Valentine Strasser. When I was Chief Secretary of State, I chaired all cabinet meetings and directly supervised the operation of all the cabinet members including the Attorney General. In November 1992, when I was appointed Secretary of State in Chairman’s Office, I was no longer a member of Cabinet and did not attend any meeting where, if at all, the issue of an alleged abortive coup in December 1992 could have been deliberated. Indeed like any other member of the public I followed the events through the press reports and unofficial sources.
The office of the Attorney General then, I believe could have documents relating to the facts of the then trials and the executions that were subsequent to the trial. It is but prudent to ask those who were in charge of the entire episode. They are, I believe, the most appropriate people that can throw light on the whole issue so that the true story is brought to the knowledge of us all, including my humble self.
We must first and foremost note that the regime I served was a military regime, and matters such as coup and executions were not the domain of administrators or civilians like myself. I therefore had no input whatsoever into such matters.
Names of 29 Killed Victims
LEST WE FORGET, 29 PERSONS WERE ANNOUNCED BUT MORE WERE ACTUALLY KILLED ON THAT NIGHT. HERE ARE THE FULL NAMES & RANKS OF THE ANNOUNCED 29 VICTIMS OF MURDER:
1. Late Corporal Mohammed Lamin Bangura
2. Late Corporal Alusine Mohammed Sito Sesay
3. Late Major (Rtd.) Arunah Jalloh
4. Late Corporal Mohamed A. Mansaray
5. Late Warrant Officer Class 1 Kargbo, alias Fernando
6. Late Lt. Col. (Rtd) Kahota M.S. Dumbuya,
7. Late Captain Hanciles Bangura
8. Late Honourable Bambay Kamara
9. Late Lt. Col Yaya Kanu
10. Late Chernor Jalloh
11. Late Samba Jalloh
12. Late Sieh Bangura
13. Late Sub-Inspector D.T.S. Lebbie
14. Late Salami Coker
15. Late Salamatu Kamara (PREGNANT WOMAN)
16. Late Victor S. Jarrett
17. Late Private Mohamed Bangura
18. Late Emmanuel E. Manni
19. Late Sorie Bangura
20. Late Yapo Conteh
21. Late Sergeant A.R. Conteh
22. Late Corporal S. Bangura
23. Late J. Saffa
24. Late Corporal W. Lavalie
25. Late Moses Davies
26. Late Emmanuel Koroma
27. Late Foday Turay
28. Late Sinneh Turay
29. Late Major (Rtd) M. C. Jalloh
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