(JollofNews)--A Gambian civil society leader charged in the United States last week bought two pistols and a rifle to help topple the Gambian regime of Yahya Jammeh, US authorities revealed.
Banka Manneh, a US resident who is chairman of the Civil Society Associations Gambia, is accused of aiding and abetting in preparation of the failed coup. He is the fourth US-based Gambian to be charged in connection with the coup plot.
Mr Manneh was granted bail by Minnesota Federal Magistrate Becky Thorson of St. Paul until next Thursday when he is expected to take his plea.
On 30th December, a group of US and European-based Gambians armed with night-vision goggles, body armour and semi-automatic rifles bought at shops in the US, hidden beneath clothes and shipped in barrels to the Gambia, attacked the presidential palace in Banjul while Mr Jammeh was away on a private visit to Dubai.
The group said it was trying to “restore democracy to the Gambia and improve the lives of its people.” And believing they had “up to 160 members of the local Gambian military” on their side and that the president’s guards wouldn’t risk their lives to defend him, the group “hoped they would be able to take over the country without having to kill any Gambians.
But a gun battle erupted, an attempt to ram the front door using a rented vehicle failed and four members of group were killed while one was captured.
State prosecutors said Mr Manneh participated in conference calls and exchanged planning documents with the other members of the group, and purchased two pistols and one rifle to equip co-conspirators participating in the coup.
Mr Manneh’s troubles started early this year when FBI agents raided his house in Georgia, Atlanta, where he lives with his mother, wife and two young children and confiscated his computers, phone equipment, and mobile phones along with various documents found at his house
Mr Manneh has not commented on the latest development. But speaking to reporters after the raid on his house, Manneh said the arrest of Gambians suspected of taking part in the coup plot by US authorities gave the impression Washington and Banjul were “collaborating” to shut down dissent, even in the diaspora.
“(Jammeh) will now be emboldened to commit more crimes,” he said. “This man has shut down all peaceful means for change. Gambians don’t have any other options.”