By Baba Sillah
Abdoulie Tambadou, the managing director of Gambia Ports Authority yesterday gave evidence on the debts owed to the GPA by Youth Development Enterprise, Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, Kanilai Family Farm among other institutions and companies.
On the Youth Development Enterprise (YDE), he confirmed that they used to have vessels in the name of YDE which was headed or chaired by the late Baba Jobe and the connection between the Enterprise and the then President was that they used to receive letters in the name of Baba Jobe, State House.
He said at the time of the dissolution of the enterprise as well as the legal tussle against it, the total debt YDE owed to GPA was D16, 000,000.
He further informed the Commission that there was a directive from the office of the president for GPA to transport items belonging to GNPC and Barajali Ferry was used for the services during which the ferry got damaged but the company failed to compensate a claim by the GPA for the damage at the tune of D16, 500,000.
When asked whether GPA took any legal action against GNPC for failure to compensate them, he responded that the managing director at the time did not take any legal action. He revealed that there was also transfer of properties own by GPA to three companies; namely Gamveg, Shyben A Madi & Sons and Euro Africa Group.
According to the GPA boss, Gamveg is related to Euro Africa Group and directives from the office of the president ordered them to handover GPA tank firm to Gamveg which he said was in November, 2005 and the negotiation was led by Amadou Samba.
He further disclosed that Gamveg Company was involved in the processing of groundnut oil and the company was using GPA’s tank firm at the time of operation and the leased agreement was signed by one Amadou Samba.
Mr Tambadou recalled that at the time of his return as managing director in March 2017, several letters were written to Gamveg Company regarding the agreement but the company never responded to their letters necessitating them to write to the Ministry of Justice for legal advice.
With regard to Shyben A Madi & Sons, Mr Tambadou said in 2011, they received a letter from the Ministry of Lands requesting for the handing over of their land to Shyben A Madi & Sons for a rent-free period of 4 years.
He added that the office of the president was importing sugar and the land occupied by the company was used for storage of that sugar.
According to Mr Tambadou, a claim was made against the Kanilai Family Farm for failure to pay the rent on that land amounting to D2, 700,000 for the period of 4years.
The claim against the Euro Africa Group, according to the managing director of GPA was that the said company failed to honour the lease agreement from 2008-2016 after they were asked by the office of the president to lease one of their properties and share to the Euro Africa Group which is amounting to D10, 420,103.28.
Further claim by the GPA, he said was the sum of D383, 365 owned by the companies of the former president for the crossing services at Barra-Banjul terminal.
Commission counsel, Amie Bensouda applied to tender all the debts owed to the GPA which were accordingly admitted and marked as exhibits by the commission.
Next to appear was the managing director of Gambia Milling Corporation, Christophe Bardy.
Mr Bardy told the commission that the registered name of the company is Gambia Milliing Corporation and the directors of the company are Muhammad Bazzi, Fadia George Mazagi and David Dannov. According to Mr Bardy, Premium Investment Group has 50% share in the company while the other 50% is owned by a company in the USA.
He said the land occupied at the Navy land belongs to the GMC after a lease agreement between the government which was in May 2013 and the parties were Ministry of Lands and his company.
Mr Bardy recalled that because of the market potential, they decided to invest in The Gambia as in Sierra Leone and other countries and the amount of money proposed for the investment at the time was D1, 000,000.
He said the government promised to protect them and allocate them land which is called Navy land after his company promised to invest billion dalasi again.
Mr Bardy however said he did not have any documents at that point to show to the commission how his company acquired the land as well as who was the mediator for the land acquisition.
However he requested for time to enable him to go through their archives to know how the company acquired the said land as well as other relevant documents related to the company with regard to the notice of summon.
Mr Bolaji Yusuuf of Guaranty Trust Bank, who steeped in for the managing director gave evidence on the mobilization account.
He said D422, 000,000 was deposited into the account and out of the total deposit, D42, 200, 000 was deposited by the central bank. He said the first withdrawal was D5, 000,000 while the second withdrawal was D50, 000,000.
Next to testify was Fadia George Mazagi, managing director of Euro Africa Group and he confirmed to the Commission that Global Trading Limited received from Central Bank of the Gambia the sum of €1,000,000 and €720,000 respectively.
According to him the sum of one million Euros paid to their company by CBG was the purchase of an aircraft, 757 for Gambia Government. He said prior to ending negotiations for the purchase of the aircraft it was already sold.
Mr Mazagi disclosed that Kanilai Family Farm owed Global trading the sum of €1,354,000 which was in respect to supply of avian water, Hyundai vehicles and coach buses and there was a letter authored by Njogu L Bah, former Secretary General instructing them to set off the one million euro which was meant for the purchase of the aircraft to Kanilai Family farm.
However, he said that he did not have the said letter with him. “How could you set off debts owed by a private company to public funds?,” Commission Counsel Bensouda inquired, but Mr Mazagi said that was the instruction they received and did not investigate where the money was coming from.
At that juncture commercial invoices from Global Trading showing payments of the one million euros from State Aircraft Account as well as bill of landing of the said vehicles were admitted as exhibits.
Other witnesses that reappeared before the Commission were the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance Abdoulie Jallow and Accountant General Momodou Lamin Bah, respectively whose testimonies centred on the opening of accounts especially by the office of the former president.