By Omar bah
The Government of the Gambia yesterday launched a five-person expert commission of inquiry to look into the frozen assets of the former President Jammeh.
Veteran Gambian civil servant Sourahata Semega-Janneh is the head of the commission while a senior private lawyer Amie Bensouda will serve as counsel to the commission.
The other three members of the commission set up to investigate numerous allegations of abuse of office, mismanagement of public funds and willful violation of the Constitution by President Jammeh are Mamadi Kurang, Aboisseh George, an accountant and Bai Mass Saine, a banker.
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, President Adama Barrow said the launching of the commission is a great milestone for his government towards the consolidation of democracy, human rights and development.
“This commission is mandated to look into the management of some public enterprises as well as assets and financial transaction of the former President Yahya Jammeh and some of his associates,” he said.
The President said it is important to note that the commission is formed based on non-partisan consideration, “but it has rather been carefully vetted and guided by competence, integrity and qualification”.
He said although the task before the commission members was huge, his government was confident that the members are experienced enough to shed light on the allegations against the former president and his associates.
“Given the sensitive nature of this task at hand and the high expectation of the public, I encourage all commission members to deliver efficiently and effectively with a high sense of discipline and honesty,” he added.
He said his government will continue to stand firm to defend truth and justice no matter who it is for or against. “We are committed to the restoration of human rights, fair play and justice for all.”
The minister of Justice, Aboubacarr Tambadou said the commission is not established to witch-hunt anybody, rather it marks another chapter in the efforts of the government to establish accountability in government.
He said the commission, which is established under the Constitution, is tasked to report back to his ministry in three months starting from this month.
He said the commission is mandated to summon anybody before it, if necessary.
Meanwhile, the chair of the commission Sourahata Janneh, said the commission is both quasi-judicial as well as investigative.
“It must be clearly understood that the commission of inquiry into the assets of former President Jammeh and into activities and properties of his family and close associates so far as they are connected, is not a law court and has no jurisdiction to hold a criminal trial,” he said.
He said the commission is empowered by law to make orders, adverse findings and recommendations that may impinge on individual rights and privileges, “therefore, certain characteristics of the commission cannot be over-emphasised.”
“Firstly we are independent and our attitude will be devoid of bias or prejudice. Every subject of our enquiry shall have the right to instruct counsel to protect their interests before the commission including the cross-examination of witnesses to test their veracity,” he concluded.