Readers will recall that Gambians woke up on Wednesday 22 March 2006 to another doctored presidential communique of a foiled coup. However, what most Gambians were unaware was the coup had almost succeeded until Lang Tombong Tamba stepped in to safe President Jammeh by foiling the coup. At the time, panic-stricken President Jammeh was on an official visit to Mauritania.
Gambians were told, “Security forces yesterday discovered that a group of army officers led by Colonel Ndure Cham, former Chief of Defence Staff, were at an advanced stage in their plot to overthrow the constitutional government of The Gambia”. The communique went on to assure Gambian “All those involved are presently in custody and helping the security forces in their investigation, except the leader who is still at large. The general public is hereby assured that there is no cause for alarm and the situation is firmly under control.”
Reliable sources have impeccably confirmed that the plotters comprised Lang Tombong Tamba, Ousman Sonko-Interior Minister, Ndure Cham and a handful of other officers. The plotters disagreed on leadership. Lang and Ousman vehemently opposed Ndure Cham leading the plot because they believed Cham was not only ill-educated but lacks charisma and leadership quality. According to Ousman Sonko, “Ndure has a shabby appearance and a ghetto personality.” Their argument was bitter and when it became obvious that none of the two camps was willing to compromise on who should lead, Lang embarked on foiling the coup.
Lang Tombong then phoned President Jammeh in Mauritania and informed him about the coup plot. He further advised and convinced Jammeh to return to Banjul. A member of Jammeh’s entourage with him in Mauritania who wished to remain anonymous disclosed that Jammeh was reluctant to return to Banjul as he was seriously shaken by the plot. The source went on to add that Jammeh was determined never to return to Banjul as he was convinced that he will be arrested and killed the moment he lands in Banjul. To assure him, Lang went to see Asombie Bojang; Yahya’s mum for her to assure her son that it was safe for him to come home. Jammeh was scared to death. “I will wait here in Mauritania until all potters are behind bars and it is safe for me to return”, he told Lang Tombong and his mum in a shaky voice.
Finally, President Jammeh agree to returned to Banjul only after strong assurance of his safety and wellbeing from his mum and Lang Tombong. He then cut short his trip to Mauritania, returned to Banjul under cover of darkness with an escort of Mauritania military commandoes.
Ndure Cham remained in self-exile in Senegal until he was subsequently arrested in August 2013 near Numu Kunda. Cham started travelling to the Gambia in 2010 disguising as a ‘NARR’ all wrapped up and travelling by ‘SARET’-a donkey or horse cart. Another reliable source also disclosed Ndure “Cham was thoroughly interrogated after his arrest and then cleared”. When asked to shed light on what he meant by “cleared”, he laughed before saying “killed of course”.
General Saul Badjie was not in any way linked or associated with the 2006 coup plot. However, General Badjie is the one who saved Ousman Sonko because he still has the report of the coup plot but continues to keep Ousman’s involvement from Jammeh. President Jammeh also personally ordered the killing of Daba Marena and co. Many Jammeh supporters felt that he has betrayed Lang Tombong who saved his life by foiling the 2006 coup that had otherwise succeeded already.