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Monday, September 25, 2023

NYC reacts to alleged cover-up of corruption

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Press release

The National Youth Council (NYC) and the National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) are aware of a newspaper publication accusing NYC, NEDI of covering corruption scandals.

Contrary to the information provided by Mr Ismaila Sambou to the newspapers, the NYC and NEDI spearheaded the establishment of the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) in 2016 and appointed Mr Ismaila Sambou as Board President and six others to serve as an interim board and provide oversight function to the GYCC Secretariat. One of the key tasks of the interim board was to formalise GYCC and go to AGM to conduct an elective congress and have a full-fledged Board answerable to its members where NYC and NEDI will serve in an advisory role.

In December 2022, a member of the interim board brought a case against Baboucarr Kebbeh (CEO) of GYCC, alleging misconduct and refusal to adhere to instructions, and brought it to the attention of Mr Sambou. Mr Sambou sermon the board to an emergency meeting and both sides narrated their side of the story. After the said meeting, the majority of the board members in attendance noted that the said allegations or claims against the CEO were found to be not worthy of suspension. 

Mr Sambou was not happy with the outcome of the meeting and went ahead to dismiss the board members that did not agree with the proposal to suspend the CEO. One might want to ask were does a board president singlehandedly have the power to suspend other board members just through an email. He eventually suspended the CEO without a board meeting. Another of his excesses is to write to the vice president of the interim board, Adama Beyai and serve him a warning letter for requesting a copy of the GYCC constitution through the then legal adviser of the board, Patience H Foster.

Mr Kebbeh brought these complaints against Ismaila Sambou to NYC and NEDI and the ministry of trade. The council set up a normalisation committee comprising MOTIE, NEDI, NYSS, and the International Trade Center (ITC). 

At our first meeting, the following resolutions were agreed upon; to write a letter to the CEO and rescinded his decision and recalled all the Board members to the Board, conduct regional Congresses in all the existing structures (LRR, NBR, CRR, and URR regional chapters) of GYCC, conduct an Audit exercise all of the past Six (6) years, conduct a National AGM and Congress to elect a new Board, the decision to suspend the CEO was thus rescinded, the Regional Congresses were held although with a late attempt by Sambou to cancel them unsuccessfully.

An Audit Firm was also hired by the GYCC without any outside interference. Whilst all these processes are ongoing, to our dismay Mr Sambou went ahead and constituted a board on his own instead of continuing with the existing board.

Mr Sambou was also delaying the audit process by holding on to the 2018 files containing supporting documents of financial transactions for that year. We made several attempts to stop the illegal composition of the new Board and to return the files in his possession for the Audit exercise to progress smoothly but to no avail. At that point, we have no option but to dissolve the GYCC Board as dictated by the NYC Act of 2000.

Our dissolution of the GYCC board is within our mandate as the body mandated by law to register and coordinate all youth activities in the country. Covering corruption

The claim of covering up corruption is unfounded and untrue. The audit exercise conducted never indicated any of such allegation/claim.

The Audit exercise is not complete, as the final report is yet to be submitted by the auditor. The audit draft report was presented by the auditor and secretariat has provided a Management Response. The final report is yet to be signed and submitted by the Audit Firm.

We are willing to share the draft report of the Audit and the contact details of the auditor to media houses upon request for further verification.

The draft report never mentioned any mismanagement of any fund, as alleged by Mr Sambou, not to talk of the D4.4 million he highlighted. Therefore, Ismaila should come and substantiate these claims in the Audit Report. The Audit exercise is accompanied by a Management letter which provides explanations of all queries on the management, and the alleged 4.4 million claimed was nowhere to be seen.

NYC, NEDI, and Stakeholders have consulted with partners of GYCC who provide funding for the management to implement project activities, and none of them complained of project failure, misuse of the fund, or default in the retirement.

NYC and NEDI wishes to assure the general public and all stakeholders that we will never condone or cover-up any form of corruption or malpractice by any of our structures or organizations that we coordinate. 

Signed: executive director

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