By Baba Sillah
Two former secretary generals Momodou Sabbaly and Njogou Bah were among those who faced the Janneh Commission yesterday.
Others included the managing director of Euro Africa Group, Fadia George Mazagi and Yahya Jammeh’s brother Ansumana Jammeh who was appearing for the second time.
Momodou Sabally was questioned on the transaction and withdrawal of funds from Carnegie Mineral Account. Commission counsel Amie Bensouda first asked Sabally to confirm a withdrawal by one Makam Bah amounting to D2, 000 000. Sabally responded by saying that Mr Bah was his orderly and he at times delegated him to withdraw money on his behalf because of his busy schedules. According to Mr Sabally, who was also appearing for the second time, the transactions are by narrative and were kept in records, which were all directives from the office of the president.
“The president will give verbal directive, endorse it and we will record it,” Sbally said. He further stated that the withdrawal of $5,000 000 among others were all backed by narratives from the former President; adding that the former President at times gave only verbal instructions.
In relation to the payment of 12 million dalasi to one Sering Touba Ndure, Sabally said Mr Ndure was one of the contractors of the President but he never met him and may not be able to recognise him. According to counsel Bensouda, the said sum was from the Tax Recovery Account.
Mr Sabally also disclosed that some of the payments are made without going through an accounting officer or system while others went through that process. “I would like to go through the files to know the project Ndure was assigned to. If the President did not give directives there was no way I will execute or purchase anything given my background as an economist. The President gave directives when he felt necessary,” Mr Sabally added.
“I felt that certain students need to be sponsored but there was nothing I could do about it as the President sponsored anyone he felt like as I was also sponsored by him,” he added.
For SG Sabally further said he could not say whether there was no budget at the office of the President allocated to students and even if there was, it has gone beyond the budget.
He confirmed that there was a transaction of six hundred and seventy thousand Euros for the purchase of 32 cars by Euro Africa when Gambia hosted the Organization of Islamic Conference (IOC). He said after the conference some of the vehicles were donated to a team of Syrian doctors.
Ansumana Jammeh, former Ambassador to Qatar and brother of former president Jammeh, continued his testimony by providing the commission with the bank statements of Patriot Company Limited dated December 2015 to December 2016, noting the company was incorporated in 2015 to Royal Africa Holding Company. “The bank refused to give me bank statements because I am a minor share holder unless the Commission ask them,” he disclosed.
“I resigned from Royal Africa Company in 2016 because I was not happy the way they were doing business,” Mr Jammeh said.
Mr Jammeh further disclosed that MALIGAM was under investigations since 2013 by the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Police.
The company stopped operations in 2013-2014. “My annual budget for the Gambia Embassy in Qatar was two to three million,” he expounded.
Mr Jammeh finally testified that his company (Patriot Insurance Company) was in the same office with APAM but was quick to add that the company was an insurance broker and not a full time insurance company.
Next to come was Mr Njogu L Bah, another former Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Presidential Affairs Minister.
Mr Bah began by giving synopsis of the offices and positions he held under the Jammeh administration. He said basically he served as Secretary General on five occasions.
“I was appointed SG on January 8th, 2010 and I did not know the circumstances that led to the termination of Carnegie Minerals but the reference number in the file will help to know whether it was a directive or in a meeting,” Bah said.
He said he could not say much about APAM as they only act base on the directives sent to them from the Geological Department and has no idea as to how APAM came into existence.
“I can recall the account of National Security, Tax Recovery and Carnegie Mineral accounts but I cannot recall whether I was signatory to Carnegie Mineral account neither do I know the purpose of the National Security Account,” said Bah.
Mr Bah further testified that he was not aware that APAM was involved in mining in Upper River Region (URR).
“Whom did you consider the Social associates of Jammeh?” the chairman of the Commission, Sourahata Janneh inquired from Bah who broke into laughter but was quick to say he was laughing because of the dilemma he found himself and did not see the commission as a joking matter.
At that juncture, Mr Bah was silent for a while and later informed the commission that he needed time to come back with answers.
On the issue of Taiwanese grant, Bah said Taiwan had bilateral relations with the office of the President and would request from the government to identify project and final approval will be done by the President and a budget will be allocated.
He said he does not know whether there was a specific file for Taiwanese grants neither did he know whether there was any grant from Qatar when he was Secretary General.
Mr Bah was finally asked by the counsel to make himself available to the Secretary in respect to those files today Tuesday.