By Baba Sillah
Two soldiers, two Central Bank staff as well as a former National Assembly member were among the witnesses summoned by the Commission of Inquiry yesterday regarding the withdrawal of cash from the Vision 2016 and State Aircraft accounts at the Central Bank of the Gambia, under the directive of General Sulayman Badjie and former President Jammeh.
The soldiers are Lt Nuha Williams Jammeh and Lt Col Momodou Lamin Mendy. While another one Edward Mendy is a State Intelligence Service officer formerly NIA.
In his evidence Edward Mendy confirmed to the commission that he was instructed by General Saul Badjie to receive the sum of $300,000 from the Central Bank which he did but he was not informed about the purpose of the money after handing it over to General Badjie.
Lieutenant Nuha Williams Jammeh was the next to testify and according to him he was instructed by General Badjie to collect the sums of $500,000, $600,000, D21,000,000, $1,000,000 , $1,000,000,$250,000, $200,000 , D21,000,000 and $500,000 respectively, from the Central Bank on different occasions and upon arrival at the bank, documentation will be done, singed and approved by the governor and will be escorted by the securities at the bank on some occasions.
He said he only acted on the instructions of General Badjie and at that moment, he could not object to the instruction but from the legal aspect, he could have told the governor that he was instructed by General Badjie and not former President Jammeh.
Lieutenant Colonel Momodou Lamin Mendy was the next military officer to be questioned by the commission on the withdrawals he made under the instruction of General Saul Badjie and testified that from July 1994 to November 2016 he was stationed at State House as operational commander and second in command.
On the withdrawal of $100,000 when asked by the commission counsel, the senior military officer said he was instructed by General Sulayman Badjie to collect the money from the central bank and after collecting the money, he handed over the money to General Badjie but no third party was present at the time of handing over the money.
“I did not know whether the order was from Jammeh but I was instructed by General Badjie to collect from central bank. I cannot tell whether General Badje handed over the money to Jammeh or not,” Lt Col Mendy told the Commission.
Mrs Njoba Sankareh Sarr, former principal currency officer at the central bank also testified in respect of payments made in euros after banking hours.
Earlier, she told the Commission that she has worked at the CBG for 37years until his retirement in December 2015. She said she and Mr Koita were in charge of vaults at the bank.
At that juncture, Commission Counsel showed her documents regarding transactions back in 2011 amounting to €1.5 Million and she confirmed effecting payments on this amount after banking hours on behalf of the treasurer who was sick at the time.
The retired banking officer acknowledged that the transaction was done after the banking hours because it was authorised by her superiors to effect the payment and were told that vouchers will be provided later. She said that was not the first time they effected payments after working hours. She said it is correct that the said transactions were made on the 23rd and 30th of November, 2011 respectively.
Next to testify was Ousainou Corr, former director of finance of the said bank who also confirmed to the commission that the sum of €1.5 Million was transacted from the account of the state aircraft but did not know exactly when the transaction was conducted. He said normally they do make payment after banking hours whenever they receive instructions from office of the president and the Accountant General.
“All government accounts particularly Office of the President were collated and confirmed by the tax force,” he disclosed.
Mr Corr informed Commissioners that in terms of the office of the President they effect payment after the governor approved an instruction. He said he has never conducted any payment without authority from the governor or deputy governor.
He continued: “I will sign the leaguer to authenticate the payment and minute it for the authorization to my juniors for them to take action.”
Next was former National Assembly Member for Foni Jarrol Constituency, Borry LS Colley. Borry was expelled from the APRC thereby automatically lost his sit in 2014.
He said he worked at State House as Chief of Protocol from the 15 June, 2015 to July 2016 but was later redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as senior protocol officer but returned at State House and held the same portfolio.
He said he was also onetime Deputy Ambassador to Guinea Bissau.
He was then shown documents containing transactions amounting €100,000 from the Vision 2016 Account at the central bank which he said was an instruction from Jammeh to receive on his behalf. He said he signed after receiving the cash but handed over the money to Jammeh.
According to him the instructions he received were verbal and at time of handing over the money, no third party was present except God.