By Baba Sillah
A visit by the Janneh Commission on Thursday laid bare former President Yahya Jammeh’s residence in Kanilai, revealing the former dictator’s taste in buildings, furniture and wildlife including even amphibians.
The tour, which is part of the Commission’s mandate also inspected Jammeh’s many hundreds of cattle, his Sindola Safari Lodge, warehouses and furniture among others.
The delegation, headed by the Chairman Sourahata Janneh, was received by officials of the Gambia Armed Forces.
The first place inspected was the cattle ranch situated at the far east of the former president’s residence connected from the main entrance by a fence fitted with electrical installations.
At the cattle ranch, the herdsman under the Gambia Armed Forces explained to the Commissioners that the cattle are both Brazilian and Malian breeds and the former president used to feed them with animal feeds locally known as ‘Ripass’ but now they are usually taken out for grazing.
Major Lamin D Sanyang of the Gambia Armed Forces who is entrusted to take care of the frozen assets in Kanilai disclosed that at the last head-counting of the cattle, there were 689 of them but said the number has increased as some cattle have produced calves since then.
He further disclosed that when any of the cows died, they would be fed to the wild life such as Hyenas, adding that they also provide food for the crocodiles.
The Commission also inspected a depreciating fish pond populated by crocodiles. The Commission was informed that the pond used to generate water through an electrical system which in turn supplied water to the women’s garden but that system has been condemned resulting in the lack of water in the pond and the gardens beyond it.
According to officials, there were 97 caterpillar plants, some roadworthy and some not. They further said there were plans by the former president to construct a water factory but that never materialized.
Farm implements such as sowing machines, tires, cars, plumbing and electrical materials were also seen in containers and in a warehouse, respectively.
The Commission also inspected the former president’s personal residence where termites had already made their way into some of the furniture which prompted commission counsel to urge Major Sanyang and team to keep the place well.
However Sanyang responded that once he gets the authority and recommendation, people will be hired to keep the place well and to avoid it from ruining.
Alieu Jallow, Registrar General, Ministry of Justice who was also part of the delegation escorted commissioners to various places within the palatial villa including the private residence of the former president and a spot he used to relax.
Apart from the residences of the former president, unfinished buildings were also visited, including a deep basement under one of the buildings while the other side of the building laid rotten bags of groundnut.
At the Sindola Safari lodge, the delegation was shown another fish pond. From the lodge, the delegation drove to an estate situated at the outskirts of the village which is now used by ECOMIG soldiers as their base.
However the delegation could not inspect the buildings as the commanding officer, Commander Gueye, said he did not receive instruction from his superiors in Fajara and therefore could not allow the delegation to inspect the site.