Ex- President Jammeh feels nobody can do better than he can -Former SG Ousman Jammeh Testifies

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ousman Jammeh, former secretary general and head of the Civil Service, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that Ex-President Yahya Jammeh felt that nobody could do better than he could. 

He reappeared in relation to Gamtel/Gamcel and Spectrum sale of shares. He said from March 2007, to May, 2008, he was the secretary general. He served in the said portfolio from May, 2011, to December, 2011, as well.

Mr. Jammeh, however, testified that he was present when the so-called investors made their presentation to the former president. He said Spectrum heard that Gamtel was among the best companies in Africa and this was the reason they came to invest.

He testified that the first time he met them was at the office of the former president and was told how to improve the performance of Gamtel; adding that at the time of their presentation to the former president, Mr. Bazzi was present but he (the witness) was just watching. He added that Spectrum officials told them that they would take over the management of Gamtel.

The former secretary general revealed that they signed a contract but there was no formal contract document presented before him as the secretary general neither did he see a copy of the contract prior to the signing ceremony. The presentation indicated their intention to invest in Gamtel, he stated. He said he advised the former president on the said contract with Spectrum and the former president must have told the investors to go ahead with the signing of the contract.

He alleged that the former president was not fair to him, further noting that the signing ceremony was held at the office of the finance minister and he made some efforts to ensure that the contract would go through the right channel and Spectrum was supposed to present financial performance and also to reflect on the contract document.

Mr. Jammeh confirmed to the commission that it was correct that neither the Ministry of Finance, nor Communication or the Attorney General Chambers were privy to the Spectrum contracts for managing the Gamtel gateway; adding that the normal channel was not followed and the management of Gamtel were not put in the picture as well.

Responding on when exactly investors started visiting the former president, he said it had always been the practice prior to him becoming secretary general but could not pinpoint the exact year it started. He said the office of the former president was very busy and there was transfer of portfolios to his office.

The president, he said, was somebody who felt that nobody could do better than he could; adding that he (witness) did not play any part in the termination of Spectrum neither did he have any idea of the outstanding money for the sale shares in Gamtel/Gamcel.

He finally testified that he was not aware that the outstanding sum was paid to the Central Bank of The Gambia.     

Fadi Mazegi, managing director, Euro Africa Group, reappeared before the Janneh Commission in connection to Gam Petroleum and Mariam Yahya Jammeh Family Trust Account.

Prior to his testimony, the commission’s counsel, Amie Bensouda, told him that he submitted flash drive containing accounting software and accounting records for Gam Petroleum which was also submitted to Excel. However, he was required to produce all accounting information in respect of the said company and Euro Africa Group respectively.

At this juncture, the flash drive was tendered by counsel but the chairman of the commission, Sourahata Janneh, indicated that the content of the flash drive should be printed. However, the witness was also urged to produce the information showing payments from the accounting system.

According to Mr. Mazegi, contracts were awarded to Global Trading Group but there were subcontracts to Global Power System (GPS) and over $7,000,000 were put into a Trust Bank account opened by Global Trading. He added that the contractor was paid the sum of €1,840,600 which was to be paid into a foreign bank.

He said it was his choice to subcontract the works and he believed that the total amount was paid. At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that the company was liable to pay taxes and other liabilities for their staff.

In response, Mazegi promised to find out and confirm to the commission whether taxes were paid in relation to this contract as well as income tax returns.

With regard to the MYJ Account, he testified that Mr. Ahemed Hodrog is an in-law to business mogul, Muhammed Bazzi, and was appointed on six–month probation as general manager for Euro Africa Group because he (Mazegi) was busy in another project in Benin and did not have time for The Gambia. He said when he came back, he found that Mr. Hodrog was working for Kanilai International Group.

On whether Mr. Hodrog was receiving payments, he responded in the affirmative. He said there was an overdraft of $4,000 from MYJ account and over $4,000,000 was paid in cash into this account at Trust Bank. However, Mazegi responded that he was not aware of these payments but Hodrog was reporting to Mr. Bazzi and he was of the belief that Hodrog is in the United States.

Mr. Mazegi further responded that deposits into the MYJ account were not linked to Euro Africa Group. A letter authored by former secretary general, Dr. Njogu Bah, dated 12 January, 2012, to Global Trading in connection to the purchase of State Aircraft was tendered and admitted as exhibit.

He testified that it was not to his knowledge whether his company contributed to this account; adding that he could not recall whether they made a payment to the account and that they did not have any relation with Kanilai International Group (KGI). He said he believed Mr. Hodrog was brought into the country by Bazzi and he used to go to state house to meet the former president.

At this juncture, counsel reminded the witness that he was to produce contract documents for Global Trading in connection to constructions, engineering made by the company as well as hard copies of accounting information from the system he presented in a flash drive.

Sarjo Ceesay, director of Corporate Affairs and company secretary at Gamtel, was required to produce the statutory documents for Gamtel/Gamcel. He said Gamtel was incorporated in 1984 but was not in possession of the Certificate of Incorporation but was in possession of the Memorandum and Articles of Association.

He further testified that the Memorandum of Article of Association was amended twice, further stating that the first amendment was in 2007 while the second one was in 2014 when Spectrum contract was terminated.

According to him, there was an instruction by the former president to regularise the status of Gamtel/ Gamcel, noting that he could not trace out the original copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association because the former company secretary died and did not know where to get the originals.

Documents relating to the Memorandum and Articles and Memorandum of Association, as well as a letter from the office of the former president to regularise the status of Gamtel/Gamcel were all tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Mr. Ceesay further revealed to the commission that the regularisation of Gamtel/Gamcelwas triggered by PAC/PEC of the National Assembly when they presented a report on Gamtel/Gamcel; adding that Gamcel was incorporated on the 17th of November, 2000, and the general manager owned 1% while 99% share was for the company.

The Corporate Affairs director further stated that there were amendments when Spectrum came in 2000 and 2014. Documents relating to Gamtel/Gamcel partnership with Spectrum, a letter and other certificates were admitted as exhibits. 

He testified when they were asked to regularise Gamtel status, they were asked to look for partnership, and as a result, they engaged The Gambia Ports Authority.

Legal practitioner and current director general of Gambia Maritime Administration, Mustapha Marrong, who was also onetime attorney general at the Ministry of Justice from 1995-1996, testified in connection to a loan amounting to $35,000,000 taken by the AFPRC from the Republic of China on Taiwan.

According to Mr. Marrong, the spokesperson of the junta at the time, Ebou Jallow, brought out some documents to him to raise a loan and expressed urgency because he told him that he (Jallow) was travelling to Taiwan that evening in respect of the loan.

He said he told Jallow that he was going to discuss it with the solicitor general but Captain Jallow said to him that there was no time and the former president was anxious, and that there was a loan from ROC but Jallow did not tell him the amount. Therefore he did not have time to read the documents but signed, he said.

The legal luminary informed commissioners that he was not part of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) that negotiated the loan but was told that Ebou Jallow stole some money, further stating that the loan was never an agenda for the council. He said no one can tell from the Ministry of Justice as to how this money was spent.

Hearing continues today at Djembe Hotel.

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: Former SG Ousman Jammeh