3 former governors, ministers face commission

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Three former governors: Omar A. Khan, former governor of the Upper River Region, Sompo Ceesay of URR and Aminata Siffae Hydara of West Coast Region, yesterday appeared before the Commission of Inquiry that looks into the assets and financial transactions of former President Yahya Jammeh.

Testifying before the commission, Omar A. Khan said that he is now retired. He was reminded that he was summoned in relation to a sum of D600,000 given to him from the Carnegie Minerals account.

He said he was called by Nuha Touray and Sanna Jarju to sell bulls for the Ramadan, stating further that it was an instruction from the former president.

He stated that he was to sell the bulls and return D500, 000 to the Central Bank, which was his first time to sell bulls for the Ramadan.

He adduced that five bulls were sold at cheap prices, adding that he had received D100, 000 for the purchase of the bulls and sold them at a loss.

Mr. Khan further testified that he started working for the civil service in 1966, adding that he had served as a governor for 21 years in URR and CRR.

He posited that it was not his role to sell bulls, further noting that if he had declined to sell the bulls, he would have been arrested and punished on the orders of the former president.

He testified that he did not write to the secretary-general that it was not proper to sell the bulls as a governor, adding that he did not participate in the distribution of tractors in his region.

He said there were six regions then, and each chief got a tractor and some women.

Mr. Khan stated that the tractors were gifts for farming, adding that there were two APRC vehicle in his region.

He maintained that D100, 000 was paid to him from the Carnegie Minerals account, and he returned D500, 000.

According to him, he is in possession of a receipt to show that he had returned the D500, 000.

Sampo Ceesay also testified concerning the D600,000 withdrawn from the Carnegie Minerals account.

He said he was a governor of URR and that he is doing farming, stating further that he was appointed governor from 2013 to 2017.

He said he was elected Basse Area Council as chairman, prior to his appointment as governor.

He testified that he was called at the Central Bank and was given D600, 000 to buy bulls to support the poor during the Ramadan, and that it was Nuha Touray, who asked him to go to the bank to receive the D600, 000 from the Carnegie Minerals account.

Mr. Ceesay posited that Nuha Touray has disclosed it to them at a gathering when the former president was distributing sugar. He said when they were asked to pay back D500, 000; they only spent D100, 000 to buy bulls and sold the meat at a cheaper price.

He said he was just supervising those selling the meat, further stating that there was no local government act that states that he should sell meat.

He adduced that he only received two tractors and he did not distribute any tractors to farmers, adding that he did not receive any vehicle to be kept by his office.

He said he would look for documents to show how he spent the D100,000.

Next to testify was Aminata Siffae Hydara, a resident of Brikama. Aminata said she is now unemployed, adding that she was the governor of West Coast Region from 2013 to 2015.

She adduced that she received D600, 000 from the Carnegie Minerals account to buy bulls for the Ramadan, and that she returned D500, 000.

She said they only spent D100,000 on the sale of the bulls at a loss.

Mrs Hydara stated that she had given the bulls to another businesswoman to sell the meat, further noting that her people were going to benefit from the gesture.

She revealed that four tractors were allocated to her to help farmers, and that her office had handed over the tractors to her successor with some money when she was no longer the governor.

At this juncture, she was told that she was required to account for the D100,000 given to her.

According to her, she could not account for the money when they sold the bulls at a loss. But she was told that she should produce documents to show how they spent the D100, 000.

Fatou Mass Jobe in summary told the commission that she was appointed as Minister of Tourism and Culture from 4 February 2010 to 2014.

She said she was a signatory to the mobilisation account into which D8.1 was paid on 10 April 2012.

She testified that her connection to Dunes Hotel dated back to 2005, further stating that the hotel is a licenced leased-hold for ten years.

She stated that she was not involved in the sale of the hotel to former president to the tune of $650,000.

Supporting documents relating to the said hotel were tendered and admitted.

 She stated that the owners of the hotel had decided to sell the hotel in 2008.

At this juncture, she briefed the commission about the history of the hotel, adding that the hotel was in her trusteeship.

She adduced that directives came from the Office of the former President for the solicitor-general to witness the agreement of the sale of the hotel, further noting that she was not aware of the source of money for the purchase of the hotel, and that the sale was effected on 26 September 2013.
Author: Dawda Faye