By Mafugi Ceesay
Demba Dem, a former APRC National Assembly Member who fled the country after he was arrested and tortured yesterday told the TRRC that former junta member and minister Yankuba Touray threatened to throw grenades at APRC NAMs asking about the crude oil scandal.
The scandal broke out in early 2001 implicating the junta in the diversion of funds derived from a crude oil concession given to The Gambia by the Nigeria government.
According to Mr Dem, Yankuba Touray made threat to the APRC members at the party’s bureau while he was serving as Lands minister.
Dem said President Jammeh did “everything possible” to control the the National Assembly and he would talk to the Minister Responsible for National Assembly Matters or his former powerful aide Baba Jobe who would gather APRC members and relay certain information that Jammeh would want them to do.
Dem told the commission that they were once called and told that Jammeh wanted to increase the salaries of ministers to D25, 000 and telephone allowances to D7, 000.
He said before then he, Dem, had posted a parliamentary question to the then Finance minister Famara Jatta asking him whether the government is intending to increase civil servant salaries and if yes by what percentage.
He continued that the minister’s response was that the budget situation was not good that they could not increase salaries by more than 6 percent.
He also recalled that a few months later, Jammeh sent a supplementary bill after they already approved D98 million for the Office of the President which was exhausted within six months.
“The National Assembly Members wanted to reject the bill, and when Jammeh was told about that, he called the NAMs to meet him at State House.
When we got seated, he asked all journalists and security to go out and started insulting us asking where we were when he was taking over his government and that some of us were under our beds.
He angrily told us if we did not approve his bill the next day, some of us will be in the street looking for jobs and we all went back to the Assembly to approve his bill unanimously,” Dem said.
He said the executive always undermined the work of the assembly.
He added that some of them who always raised their voices against bills were perceived to be opposition and were invited to the NIA.
Mr Dem recalled that he was taken to the NIA with the late Mahawa Cham for not taking part in the passing of the Indemnity Bill.
“The NIA took part in all activities of the National Assembly proceedings and will record every activity and whosoever did not take part in any bill will be taken to their headquarters for questioning on why he or she refused to take part.
It was as if the Assembly was an annex of the NIA”.