By Baba Sillah
Gambian business mogul, Amadou Samba, has told the Janneh Commission that to the best of his knowledge, the late Baba Jobe bought the Observer newspaper company from its founder, Kenneth Y Best.
Samba who was summoned to the commission for the fifth time last week gave evidence in connection with payments received by his company, Excel Construction Company from government, acquisition and sale of shares in GamPetroleum and the ownership of the Daily Observer.
Asked by the commission counsel, Amie Bensouda, whether he was aware that Observer was in receivership, Samba replied in the negative noting that he was not the proprietor.
He said when lawyer Edward Gomez threatened to sue him as proprietor for a ‘libellous’ article published in the paper, he sought redress from the court to clear his name as he was not the proprietor.
Explaining the circumstances surrounding his connection with the company, Samba explained that he was offered the company for $268,000 through a friend of Kenneth Best.
According to him, before he bought the company, the late Baba Jobe showed interest and he told Baba that he could instead have it.
“After proper documentation for the transfer of ownership, [the late] Buba Baldeh made everything possible for Mr Jobe to finalise everything,” Mr Samba explained.
He then produced the document relating to the transfer of ownership from him to Mr Jobe which was admitted by the commission as exhibit.
He recalled that the company was transferred to him on 7 May 1997 from Kenneth Best while he transferred the ownership of the company to Baba Jobe on 21 October 2002 at the sum of $268,000.
“When Baba took over the company I told him that the proprietorship is transferred to you because I was suffering from hazardous implications from people for writing articles against them. I have complained to every manager appointed to remove my name as the proprietor but they always gave me excuses until when Momodou Sabally was appointed as the managing director that was the time my name was removed,” Mr Samba said.
Mr Samba, a former state lawyer turned businessman further told the commissioners that he would not know whether Baba Jobe paid $268,000 to Mr Best as the only thing he did was to give the bank details of Mr Best to Mr Jobe.
Mr Samba also answered questions on GamPetroleum. He said he sold his 10% share to the government and paid D9.3 million as capital gains tax. Hearing continues today.