By Baba Sillah
AFPRC junta spokesman Captain Ebou Jallow has claimed that the former head of state Yahya Jammeh threatened his life over the storied US$35 million Taiwanese loan.
Testifying before the Janneh Commission yesterday from New York, USA via Skype, Jallow said he became spokesman of the AFPRC governing council in 1995 after the ouster of council members, Sana Sabally and Sadibou Haidara.
Captain Jallow who was summoned by the enquiry in connection with the $35 million Taiwanese loan explained that Mr Alieu Conteh, a Gambian-American businessman broached the idea of soliciting the loan from Taipei.
Asked how he came to know Mr Conteh, he said he was introduced to him by Jammeh, claiming he viewed the businessman as “a criminal”.
He said when Jammeh told him to approach Taiwan and negotiate for the loan he suggested they should instead talk to Beijing but when the Chinese were not forthcoming, he was sent to Taipei as a special envoy and warned that were he to return empty-handed he would be “buried”.
Jallow said Alieu Conteh was given a passport as ambassador-at-large and during the negotiation process, the Taiwanese Foreign Minister asked how much The Gambia was asking for, and they told him US$70 million finally agreeing on US$35 million.
The former AFPRC spokesman revealed that he told the foreign minister that Jammeh insisted that they give him $5 million in cash as a sign of commitment to their promise.
Captain Jallow also testified that he handed over the cash to Jammeh in the presence of all AFPRC members and was commended by Jammeh.
Out of the US$5 million, he claimed US$2.3 million was deposited by him and Edward Singhatey at the Central Bank while US$2.7 million was retained by Jammeh and no explanation was given to him by Jammeh with regard to this until he left the country.
Captain Jallow also explained the signing of an MoU between The Gambia and Taipei after the US$35 million loan was negotiated but denied signing any agreement on behalf of the government, saying it was signed by then Finance minister Balla Garba Jahumpa.
He claimed that Edward Singhatey and Yankuba Touray lied to the commission when hey said the money was a grant and not a loan because he brought the MoU which clearly spelt it was a loan.
Jallow also denied transferring US$3 million to a bank in Geneva, Switzerland claiming that it was transferred by Jammeh from CBG to Citibank.
He also claimed that there was nothing mysterious about the transfer of the said sum as Jammeh and the then governor of CBG, Momodou Clark Bajo knew about it. He said when the said sum was transferred, Jammeh gave him a power of attorney to travel to Geneva to Philip Bedawi to give him the US$3 million. He recalled that upon his arrival, Mr Bedawi contacted Jammeh and the money was given to him in cash.
Mr Jallow said out of the US$3 million, he gave US$1 million to a French national who was accompanied by Alieu Conteh under the directive of the former president. He revealed that he boarded a special jet from Geneva to Banjul and upon arrival he handed over the remaining cash to the former president.
He claimed Jammeh told him that they will counterfeit US dollars as machine will be provided for that.
He said knowing the type of person Jammeh was and the atrocities being committed by the AFPRC at the time, he had no choice but to leave the country and resigned from the Council in October 1995. He said he sent his resignation letter to all the Embassies in The Gambia and media houses.
He said the death of Ousman ‘Koro’ Ceesay was known to everybody and everybody, including Jammeh, knew who did it.
Captain Jallow finally testified that the government of The Gambia initiated criminal proceedings against him when Jammeh’s account was blocked in Geneva. He said the AFPRC was a criminal syndicate he could not continue with them.
Sitting continues today.