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Saturday, September 19, 2020

PMO boss quizzed on Jammeh’s ‘scholarships’

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By Baba Sillah

Pateh Jah, the Permanent Secretary at the Personnel Management Office was yesterday summoned by the Janneh Commission in connection to scholarships awarded by the office of the former President, Yahya Jammeh from the Carnegie Mineral Account.

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Mr Jah made a lengthy testimony of the nature and state of scholarships awarded by government and President Jammeh himself but said only his former boss at PMO Dawda Fadera, who is currently the head of the civil service, can shed more light on some aspects of the scholarship. Mr Fadera himself has been summoned to appear before the commission.

Jah revealed that when former Office of the President awards scholarships to students, awardees would normally go to the PMO for bonding, but he cannot tell the Commission whether scholarships from the Office of the President were part of government scholarships as some of the scholarships were from institutions such as Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Basic and Secondary and PMO respectively.
“So it will be difficult for me to justify whether scholarships awarded by OP were part of government scholarships,” Jah said.

With regard to centralised scholarships, Mr Jah said those scholarships are approved by PMO after consultation with other stakeholders as there is committee responsible for approvals.
According to Mr Jah, the Office of the then President has awarded scholarships to 18 students and out of that 3 are attending the University of The Gambia while the rest were sponsored outside.
He further disclosed that in order to know the real number of students sponsored by the then president, the Office of the President needs to be contacted. At this point the Commission’s counsel Olimatou Danso applied to tender the list of students sponsored by the then President Yahya Jammeh as well as the supporting documents as exhibits.

Continuing, Jah said: “I cannot determine whether proper procedures were followed with regard to the scholarships awarded by the then Office of the President or whether the scholarships awarded by Office of the then President was sponsored by Jammeh himself or the government”.
Mr Jah further intimated to the Commission that only the Secretary General [current SG] could know whether the scholarships from the Office of the then President were sponsored by the then President Yahya Jammeh or the government.

Commission’s counsel Bensouda then intimated that the Secretary General was summoned in order to shed light on that.
Mr Jah added that the list of students he presented were the only list of students referred to PMO for bonding.
At that point, the list of the 18 students and covering letters from then OP were tendered and admitted as exhibit MS35.
Meanwhile the commission also heard from the director of geology and businessman Tony Ghattas.

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