By Baba Sillah
Former ministers of Local Government and Lands, Ismaila Sambou and Momodou Colley, yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission to explain how lands were leased to former president Yahya Jammeh during their tenures as ministers.
In his testimony, Sambou told the enquiry that he was minister of lands from 2005 to 2010 and also served as ambassador under the previous government. He further recalled that he also served in the first republic for 25 years, stating that he worked at the cooperative union and International Labour Organisation.
Commission counsel, Amie Bensouda told him he was summoned in connection with 28 properties leased to Jammeh during his tenure as minister.
Sambou denied allocating land to anyone but acknowledged that he approved the allocation of lands based on the recommendation of his technical team and board.
He said it was not proper to allocate 28 lands to the former president and he had never allocated more than one land to anybody for any reasons.
When reminded by Counsel Bensouda that there were no applications from KFF or Jammeh for the allocation of lands, he responded that it was the board, not him, which was responsible for scrutinising allocation of lands.
When put to him that a layout was created at Cape Point, Bakau, he responded that one of the properties was allocated to his wife, Lamarana Bah, stating that he did not know whether others were allocated lands at the layout.
Testifying earlier, Momodou Colley told the enquiry that he was fully aware of four files that were taken to his office for approval of leased lands to Jammeh. He claimed that he objected upon verifying the files and advised his permanent secretary to follow due procedures.
When put to him that there was no minute in the files, he responded that was the negligence of the staff under him.
However, he stressed that he expressed his dissatisfaction in the way things were going and at certain point he challenged Jammeh and that was the reason he was removed from his position as minister.
He further claimed that the situation in the country at the time was “unfortunate”.
Sittings continue today.