By Tabora Bojang
Siaka Jatta, a political adviser to President Adama Barrow, has claimed that the president had “no hands” in the freezing of the account of Dabanani Electrical Company owned by businessman and UDP financier Alagie Conteh.
Mr Conteh said the account at Bloom Bank was blocked by the Financial Intelligence Unit through the Inspector General of Police for “political reasons”.
Mr Conteh also told King FM radio that President Adama Barrow had threatened to reduce him to penury during a meeting where he rejected overtures to decamp from UDP to the president’s NPP.
Speaking to The Standard on Wednesday, Mr Jatta contended: “Barrow is not the type of leader who would overstep his constitutional boundaries by meddling into personal issues. I totally disagree with that. The president will not make such remarks. With the powers that he [Barrow] have, it does not make sense that he will inform anyone if he really wants to bring him or her down. He could have done it in a blink of an eye if he wanted to but the president is not that person. Remember this is a president who was sued on several occasions and had lost some and took it in good faith,” Jatta contended.
Asked if he had raised the matter with the president, Jatta declined to comment saying he does not disclose issues discussed with the president to the media.
He said there was nothing peculiar about freezing bank accounts and cited that even “ordinary farmers had their accounts frozen in the past”. He said “there is nothing specific about Mr Conteh that will warrant Barrow to launch a witch hunt” against him.
“In fact, I myself had my account frozen and I know of ordinary farmers who had their accounts frozen based on credible suspicions of unlawful activities,” Jatta claimed.
“To freeze an account there must be tangible reasons and it is not possible for anyone including the president to just get up and order for such. [If that is the case] then the bank manager does not know his job. But I want to say if account freezing could happen to ordinary farmers and even people who are closer to the presidency including myself, then anyone could be affected. It is not about the president. It is about the law and due process,” Jatta added.
“We have people in this country who are far wealthier than Alagie Conteh. In fact, if such a thing is true he [Barrow] would have gone for wealthier accounts but not a pittance. It does not make sense at all. He [Conteh] is only doing this to tarnish the image of the president. There is no truth in it,” Siaka Jatta defended.