Commodore Senghore: It was a setup for me to fail

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Commodore Madani Senghore yesterday told the Janneh Commission that it was a setup for him to fail, when he was asked whether the navy should carry out fishing.

Commodore Senghore said he had served in the Navy for 29 years but was dismissed in February 2016 and reinstated in March, 2017; adding that he also served in Sierra Leone as deputy head of Mission.

According to him, the former president instructed him to negotiate for the buildings of fourteen boats which he said are at a standstill. However, he said out of the six that were built; three were with the State Guard while the other three were handed over to Ousman Jatta of Bakau alias Rambo.  He said three boats are currently parked at Tanji and secured by naval personnel while one is being secured in Banjul by the same type of officers.

He said in May 2014, when the former president embarked on nationwide tour, they came across with a boat which attracted the president and he ordered him to find out the constructor which he did.  He added that one Alhaji Jass Sam was the builder of the boat whom he invited to his office and after asking him the prices, he forwarded it to the president as instructed and later he received an email from the Ministry of Defence regarding the constructions of the boats.

Commodore Senghore further explained that there was directive from the former president for Lawyer Ida Drameh to be involved in the drafting of a contract agreement for building of the boats and after everything was finalized, the agreement was signed on the 6th of June, 2014.  According to the navy chief, the contract was signed by himself, Yusupha Dibba, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence on behalf of The Gambia government.

He disclosed that the cost of the first two boats was D350, 000 each, while the second one was D375, 000 each. The third consignment was D400,000 each. “I am not aware of the source of the fund as I only received instructions to collect monies from the Ministry of Defence and hand over to the contractor. I also received instructions to handover three boats to Rambo Jatta in Bakau,” said the witness.

At that juncture, the commission’s counsel, Amie Bensouda inquired from him whether Mr. Jatta was ever a military officer, he responded in the negative and added that Rambo never served in the Armed Forces but was told that he is a youth leader and supporter of APRC. The witness explained that he was further tasked to find out the equipment for the boats after the completion of the construction and took quotations for the provision of engines and fishing nets which he acquired both in The Gambia and Senegal respectively.

Responding to counsel as to whether fishing was part of their mandates as navy officers, he responded in the negative noting that their functions was to regulate the marine resources and to regulate the activities of the fishermen but not to compete with them in the field.  He revealed that there was a management comprising of senior military men to monitor the revenue of the boats, maintenance in order to ensure that there was transparency and accountability. He said 26 naval men were assigned to the boat for fishing, noting that the boats were running at a lost.

According to him, after his dismissal, Commodore Sillah Kujabi took over as the naval chief who also handed over to General Ansouman Tamba and since then he did not make a follow-up regarding the equipment and the boats. On the proposed 14 boats, the sum of D1.9 Million dalasi was the initial payment issued to the contractor and the total cost of the boats was D3, 220,000. 

Documents relating to the constructions of boats and correspondences from Ministry of Defence and State House were admitted as exhibits.

Earlier Mr. Ebrima Sallah, managing director of Trust Bank Gambia Ltd. who was summoned to produce statements of accounts from the Taiwanese Embassy as well as transactions documents relating to the same account and Kanilai International Festival, Tribute to Michel Jackson Account.

According him, the said account was opened on the 8th February, 2006 and there was an inflow of $1,000,000 dollars and the last transaction on the account was on the 17 of January, 2013, in the sum of $1,999,899.79 and the account is at Zero. He added that the account was a transit account as funds go in and out of the account and was operated for almost 7 years during which dollars from this account were transferred or deposited into the former president’s personal account, PEGEP.

He said on the 16th of February, 2006, there was an inflow of $100,000 to Jammeh Foundation for Peace Account while on the 22 of February 2006 another $100,000 was deposited into the same account. On the 18 of April, 2006, D700,000 was deposited into PEGEP while on the 20th of April the same year there was another inflow of $500,000.

According to him, the sum of $1,780,000 was paid to Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and on the 1st of August, 2006, 2, $210,000 while on the 7th September, 2007, there was an inflow of $300,000 and on the 29th of November, 2006, there was another $300,000 while on the 29th November, 2007 $100,000 was transferred to Yahya Jamme’s account and 17th January 2008, almost $2,000,000 was paid into Jammeh’s account.

Mr. Sallah further disclosed several other payments made from the Taiwanese Embassy Account to the account of the former president and HIV treatments. Transactions and statements of accounts were tendered as exhibits.

Responding to questions from Commissioner Bai Mass Saine, the witness said the account holder never explained the purpose of the account; adding that he wouldn’t know that their bank was used by the former president to transfer funds destine for the public at his own discretion. He said despite the account being a transit account, it was profitable to the bank hence there were charges on every transactions.

Hearing continues today.

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: The Janneh Commission Members