By Baba Sillah
Edward Singhatey former member of the military junta, yesterday finally appeared before the Janneh Commission to explain loan awarded to the government of The Gambia by the Republic of China on Taiwan among other related matters.
Singhatey who is currently the vice president of the Ecowas Commission in Abuja, Nigeria gave brief synopsis of his career from 1994 to 2007 and explained the various positions he held before he fell out with the regime in 2011.
According to him, when they took power in 1994, there was a transition programme to restore constitutional rule and to improve the infrastructure of the country.
Mr Singhatey explained that there was a suggestion for the negotiation of a loan from Taiwan and restoration of diplomatic relations with the country and a fact-finding mission was sent to Taipei to work on the proposition.
“We weighed whether to take a loan or grant and upon arrival in Taiwan, the Taiwanese authorities said they will give $35million as loan and not a grant. US$30 million was sent into an account at the central bank but later $5million was brought in cash by Ebou Jallow,” Mr Singhatey revealed.
According to him the chairman of the council at the time said they needed cash in order to improve the infrastructure of the country and called the governor of CBG for it to be deposited there.
He further told the commission that he has never held the sum of $2.2 million in cash with him and did not deposit the money in cash at the CBG but he ensured that it was deposited at the bank.
He continued: “I would not know how the official at the Ministry of Finance knew how the money was deposited at the bank. The Minister of Finance at the time was part of the delegation that went to Taiwan to facilitate the loan and also to ensure that it is captured in the books of the government. Ebou Jallow and I were the signatories to the account in order to ensure that there is transparency and accountability and to ensure that the money is disbursed in the correct manner.”
Mr Singhatey who was practicing as a private lawyer prior to his current appointment, said he later removed his name as signatory to the account on the ground that the Ministry of Finance should be responsible for the management of the funds but was not aware how Baba Jobe became a signatory to the account.
He said Ebou Jallow later became the sole signatory to the account and resigned from the council and left the jurisdiction with $3 million which he transferred into a bank in Switzerland for his use and that Jammeh had nothing to do with it at the time.
“I believe we were accountable to the people of The Gambia and there were institutions to audit to ensure that there was proper accountability, transparency and probity since we cannot account ourselves and the AFPRC at the time was accountable like all other governments,” Mr Singhatey said.
Further testifying, he claimed that the governor of CBG at the time would not have allowed any single member of the council to withdraw monies but added that the chairman of the council was in contact with the governor.
Mr Singhatey also highlighted some of the achievements of the council in term of infrastructural development such as the construction of over two hundred schools, hospitals, roads among others but did acknowledge some of the failures of the council.
Mr Singhatey also told the commission that they were not aware of some of the things Jammeh was doing and if they were aware of it, they would have stopped him.
He finally disclosed that he understood the situation of some of the officers, noting that Jammeh could be ruthless sometimes used some people to enrich himself down the line when he developed appetite for money.