By Omar Bah
Lamin Yabou, a building contractor who was jailed on charges of trying to steal money from former President Yahya Jammeh, and was set free by the Barrow government, has been explaining the story of how he got contracted by Jammeh who ended up jailing him when he asked for unpaid dues.
Speaking to The Standard newspaper Yabou, recalled that in 2013 he wrote a congratulatory letter to President Jammeh on the country’s 48th independence anniversary celebration.
He said upon receiving the letter former President Jammeh wrote back to inform him that he has received his letter and that he will like to offer him a contract and he if performs well, more opportunities will be opened for him.
“The first and only contract he gave me was a D1 Million project to construct a mosque for him in Brufut. He (Jammeh) gave me an advance payment of D750,000 to start the work,” Yabou told The Standard.
According to the contractor halfway into the project, he requested for the balance money of D250,000 but even after several request letters there was no reply from State House. “Instead an additional contract offer came from State House through one Malang Jammeh which was in the amount of D200,000. I did that job too and made a request for payment of a total of D450,000, the amount due to me for both jobs. A letter came from President Jammeh asking why I did not request for my money and I replied that I have been sending letters that were not replied,” Yabou said.
Soon after that on 28 October 2013 Yabou explained that he was called by the NIA for questioning. “Upon arrival at the NIA I met one OC Jallow who told me he was instructed to keep me there until the following day. But I ended up spending 15 days at the NIA before I was even questioned or told why I was called.
“During the interrogation they told me the money I was requesting is more than what the president owed me. I told them there was an additional work of D200, 000,” Yabou said.
The contractor said the NIA personnel again asked him to name the person who introduced him to President Jammeh since the President did not know him and if he failed to do that, they [the NIA] would show him their “other side”.
“I knew what their other side could mean but I was not bothered and I decided to stand for the truth and continued to demand for my unpaid dues. The next thing, they dragged me to court and charged me with trying to steal from the President by false pretence,” Yabou lamented.
“I spent few days at the police headquarters before I was later transferred to Brusubi police station for one night and then to court. I was later sentenced to one year imprisonment by Magistrate Omar Cham on 2 February 2016 and a fine of one million dalasis,” Yabou said.
“All I want now is to be compensated for the suffering I endured at the hands of the former regime. I am demanding the sum of D450,000 and a compensation for the one-year unlawful imprisonment.”