By Kemeseng (Kexx) Sanneh
The Minister of Justice on Thursday furnished the National Assembly members with information on the forfeited properties of former President Jammeh which are sold while some are retained by the government.
This came when the member of Bakau constituency Assan Touray asked the minister to explain to the assembly how the properties of former President Jammeh were disposed of or administered.
In response, the minister of Justice Dawda Jallow indicated that following the submission, in March 2019 of the report of the Janneh Commission, President Adama Barrow, in line with Section 203 of the 1997 Constitution, published in September 2019, his comments on the report in the form of a Government white paper accepting almost all of the recommendations of the Commission and the government white Paper was also Gazetted.
He continued to disclose that President Barrow established a Ministerial Taskforce comprising the Ministers of Justice, Local Government and Lands, Tourism and Culture, and Agriculture to determine what actions to be taken in respect of the forfeited properties of former President Jammeh and his close associates as recommended by the Commission, and to decide on what properties were to be disposed by sale or retained for Government use or to generally handle pending third party claims against properties.
“Another inter-ministerial task force was simultaneously established at the technical level to advise the ministers on their decisions. It comprised the Solicitor General, and the Permanent Secretaries at the Ministries of Finance, Local Government and Lands, Tourism and Culture, and Agriculture,” he added.
He added that the ministries constituting the task force were selected based on relevance starting with the Ministry of Justice which has overall responsibility for the assets recovery process; the Ministry of Local Government and Lands which naturally deals with land matters in the country and a substantial number of the properties forfeited were State lands; while other properties are situated in the TDA or are agricultural land hence the inclusion of the Ministries of Tourism and Agriculture.
Minister Jallow said in July 2019, based on the recommendation of the Commission, Alpha Kapital Advisory, a local chartered accountancy firm, was appointed to take over from Augustus Prom. He said a latter was the Receiver my predecessor appointed when the said assets were frozen by the High Court pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2012. Alpha Kapital Advisory was thereafter instructed to liquidate the properties identified for sale by the inter-ministerial taskforce.
“The Ministerial Taskforce (Justice, Lands, Tourism, and Agriculture) had initially identified for sale 44 properties belonging to former President Jammeh, 15 properties that belonged to Baba K. Jobe which were forfeited to the State after his conviction in 2004, but taken over by President Jammeh, and 7 properties that belonged to General Saul Badjie, all mainly in the Greater Banjul Area and the West Coast Region. 11 properties were identified for possible Government use. The Taskforce did not decide on some other properties pending an inspection of the properties,” Minister Jallow explained further.
He further informed the member that the list of properties to be sold, together with the valuations for each of the properties commissioned by the Janneh Commission, was shared by the Ministry of Justice with Alpha Kapital for the initiation of the sale process, adding that all the said properties were inspected, identified and pictures taken of them and the properties were to be sold by way of closed bids, which guide prices were then established through a revised valuation of these properties.
“This was conducted by an independent professional valuer with support from representatives of the Department of Lands and the Sheriff’s Division of the High Court, who had prepared the initial valuations at the instance of the Commission,” he points out.
He said the Services of a web design company were engaged to create a website (www.trustee.gm) which was used to advertise the assets to be sold and information was uploaded including pictures of the assets, their descriptions, dimensions, and guide price, adding that bidding forms and copies of the newspaper advertisements were also uploaded on the website.
“Due to the large number of properties identified for sale, the properties were sold in phases and the properties were also advertised in the local newspapers,”. He explained.
He said the first phase was from the 4th of September with a deadline of 18th September 2019 at 4 pm, while the second phase started on the 7th of October with a deadline of 25th October 2019 at noon and the third phase was on the 18th November with a deadline of 2nd December 2019 at 2 pm.
He went on to say to attract a wider range of bidders, especially for international participation, the advertisements were uploaded on the website (www.trustee.gm) and bidding forms were also available at the reception of a designated address for potential buyers to submit their bids at the said office.
According to him, a formal letter is sent to the successful bidder which detailed the property, bid amount, and a seven (7) day deadline for payment, but was quick to say delays and/or challenges encountered by the purchasers were always brought to the attention of the Attorney General, adding that in some instances, purchases were canceled and refunds were made to some purchasers.
He gave instances like the purchaser of Hamza Barracks was refunded his money after a decision was made to retain the property for Government use, the purchaser of No.26 Buckle street was also refunded his money after withdrawing his offer based on financial constraints, the purchaser of Yundum Citro Products was refunded his money due to the delay in facilitating their confirmation of the land’s dimension, adding that the land is being partially used by the Gambia National Army.
“For properties sold but with occupants, adequate eviction notices of at least six months were issued to the occupants to vacate the properties so that the purchasers can take vacant possession,” he said.
He further told the member that the first sale of the 32 properties was conducted in three separate phases.
In phase one from the 4th of September to a deadline of 18 September 2019 at 4 pm 14 properties were sold and are as follows:
1. No. 78A & 78B Daniel Goddard street (Hagan Street)
2. No. 13 Davidson Carrol Street (Picton Street)
3. No. 15 Dobson Street
4. No. 73A OAU Boulevard (Leman Street
5. No. 64 OAU Boulevard (Leman Street)
6. No. 3 Daniel Goddard (Hagan Street)
7. No. 57A Daniel Goddard (Hagan Street)
8. No. 18A Davidson Carrol Street (Picton Street)
9. No. 61 Daniel Goddard Street No. (Hagan Street)
10. No. 60 Daniel Goddard street (Hagan Street)
11. No. 2 Fitzgerald street
12. No.72 Gloucester Street
13. No. 13 William Cole (Grant Street)
The Second Phase was from 07th October to the deadline of 25th October 2019 at 12 noon and 6 properties were sold.
1. 16 Kairaba Avenue
2. Bakau CFAO
3. 85 Yarambamba Estate
4. 300 Brufut Gardens
5. 381 Brufut Gardens
6. Paradise Estate Plot 211.
While the third Phase was on 18th November to a deadline of 2nd December 2019 at 2 pm, 12 properties were sold. They are:
1. 34 Liberation Avenue, Banjul
2. Brufut Heights B
3. Kanifing Industrial Estate Garage
4. Kerr Sering -located on the Senegambia Junction
5. Kerr Sering -located off Kerr Sering/Sanchaba road
6. Kololi Village located off Bertil Harding Highway.
7. Bakau New Town
8. 421 Kotu West Layout
9. Kotu Extension Layout -on the main Palma Rima/Kololi road
10. Sinchu Alhagie Garden on the Kombo Coastal road
11. Yundum – Jabang Strip -at the rear of Paradise estate
Other properties disposed of are as follows:
1. The Futurelec Building at Kotu;
2. Jammeh’s shares at Comium; and
3. Shares at Gam Petroleum
The Properties and other assets being managed by the Receiver / Trustee are:
1. The Sindola Resort at Kanilai;
2. Kanilai bakery at kairaba traffic light;
3. The Green Industries at Yundun International Airport,
4. The Jammeh leisure Boat station at Denton Bridge; and
5. Jammeh shares at GT Bank.
The Minister concluded that the answer to the question of Bakau NAM saying that’s the current state of affairs as regards how Jammeh properties were managed.
In a follow-up question, the member indicated to the minister that the sale of the properties wasn’t advertised publicly, and the minister responded by saying that was false and that the sale of the properties was advertised publicly.
In a supplementary question posed by the member for Foni Kansala about the status of the Warda garden saying the place is the subject of an argument between an individual and soldiers with the individual claiming ownership. The Minister responded that the land is part of the properties forfeited from Jammeh and now occupied by soldiers.
The member for Foni Jarrol then asked about the Abuko Abattoir which he claimed was Jammeh’s property which was seized by the government. The minister responded that the place is now owned by Government under the Ministry of livestock.
The member for Brikama North Alhagie Darboe asked if the minister can provide the Assembly which a list of properties that are not sold, and in response the minister revealed that he didn’t have the list but will endeavor to do so, but was quick to inform the member that the commission recommended for further investigation which is ongoing and the investigation revealed new properties so far.