Early in the morning of Sunday May 25th 1997 soldiers at the Cockeril Military headquarters came out into the streets and started diverting cars into the compound.
Some who had been enjoying a very beautiful Saturday night had the drunkenness rudely wiped off their clouded minds as they battled to take in what was to be the start of the darkest part of the history of this nation.
As the dawn broke and events started to unfold, soldiers dressed in their red and black ceremonial uniforms started commandeering vehicles and sticking out their bodies through the car windows started proclaiming that they had taken over the government.
With shots being fired at random the streets were deserted only to the brave to witness the drama unfold.
Word spread that the prisons had been broken into and all the prisoners including coup suspects Johnny Paul Koroma and others were released.
The hesitancy was broken when a helicopter was seen to have taken off from the vicinities of Kabasa Lodge. Everyone concluded that president Kabbah had fled and therefore the alleged coup had succeeded.
The meek who clung to their radios waited for the confirmation and it was soon after that the voice of Corporal Tamba Gborie
“The state is in the hands of the other ranks, now I am appealing to you people the rank from lieutenant Colonel to full Colonel to report to the Army headquarters. Now I am very very happy for the simple understanding our Nigeria brothers have done to us as now I am speaking here we have already take over the FM and some other important places and also I am very very happy as I am now talking to you people my men are closer in the state house as for now fellow citizens enough is enough we have to build up our nation after that we are trying to make negotiation for our brotherly country Nigeria to release Corporal Foday Sankoh to come to Sierra Leone and join us and we are trying to call Saj. Musa to come to join us fellow citizens this is the time we are appealing to the RUF we are all one the war is over as I’m talking now as a spokesman now all Kamajors have been disbanded forthwith no more Kamajor no more Civil Defence Force as for now we are the national army, we have to fight for this country through the support of you the nation and me mama dem ar dae greet una all tiday as we the young young soja man dem we de other ranks don take over dis SLPP govment Pa Kabbah don run away ee don go now de contri don lef nar we han …This followed bitter fighting for the State House with Nigerian ECOMOG forces who were determined not to give in. Bombs meant for State House landed on top of the Law Courts and later they were directed at the Ministry of Finance setting the building on fire.
Meanwhile unprecedented looting was taking place systematically from shop to shop. This was the beginning of the worst part of Sierra Leone’s history.