The Gambia Government spokesman has issued a press statement refuting claims by opposition UDP leader Ousainu Darboe that The Gambia secretly lifted millions of barrels of crude oil from Nigeria.
In the statement released last evening Ebrima Sankareh wrote: “Following widespread allegations orchestrated and bandied about by the leader of the UDP, Ousainu Darboe, President Adama Barrow wishes to make it abundantly clear to all citizens, members of the diplomatic and consular corps, that his government has not lifted a single barrel of crude oil from Nigeria.
“The allegation … is fatally false, malicious and without a scintilla of truth. In actuality, negotiations for The Gambia Government to resume benefitting from Nigerian crude oil began in June 2018 while Mr Darboe was foreign minister and later, vice president. The Nigeria government granted approval in June, 2019 barely two months after Mr Darboe’s exit from the corridors of power.
“Between August and September 2021, The Gambia government embarked on a thorough examination of… costs, benefits and ramifications. When cabinet convened on 6th October, 2021, this matter was discussed under ‘Any Other Business’ and not even as a major cabinet paper. Following exhaustive evaluation, cabinet concluded that while the opportunity represented goodwill and generosity on the part of Nigeria government, it was costly. Cabinet therefore, quashed the entire programme and not a single barrel of crude oil was ever lifted either directly or indirectly by the Barrow government.
“President Barrow therefore, finds it puzzling that a malicious story premised on falsehood and cheap political propaganda is what some politicians and their media apologists use to caricature and allege corruption and lack of transparency in his government.
“In fact, the on-going court cases over the diplomatic passport saga and the recent arrest, remand and trial of the former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries shows the seriousness with which the Barrow government takes issues of corruption in all places regardless of status or position.
“However, judicial processes could be long and cumbersome and as a true believer in the rule of law, the principle of separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, President Barrow does not interfere with judicial processes.”