Former NAWEC MD: You have to negotiate in fear

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Momodou Jallow, former managing director of NAWEC, yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission and revealed that they had to negotiate in fear.

He was testifying under cross-examination at the instance of Muhammed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi by Counsel Victoria Andrews. 

He was asked whether they paid for Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) storage, and he said he was not aware; adding that he was the MD most of the time and that Mr. Abdou Jobe and Mr. Sanyang were managing directors before him.

According to him, at the beginning of the contract, there was no transmission and distribution director, noting that Nani Juwara was the Commercial director while Sira Wally-Njie was the Human Resource manager. He testified that the positions he mentioned were held by NAWEC staff.

It was put to him by Counsel Andrews that the taskforce overshadowed these positions. In response, he said they used to work together with the taskforce. He adduced that he could not remember seeing the letter written by the taskforce for the increment of the tariff of electricity, further stating that it was not his decision to increase the tariff.

He further testified that he could not remember reducing the tariff. At this juncture, he confirmed a letter given to him which he said he signed.

 Counsel Andrews then applied to tender the said letter, which was not objected by Mrs. Bensouda. It was therefore admitted in evidence.

The witness said NAWEC had a board of directors and that he could not remember whether the matter went to the board; adding that the letter was copied to the office of the former president. He testified that he signed all contracts as MD, noting that he did not make all decisions and he took over from Abdou Jobe in August 2006, and they continued with their operation.

At this juncture, a letter dated 17th of May, 2006, written by Mr. Abdou Jobe, was shown to him, and he said he could not remember seeing the said letter.

Mr. Jallow told the commission that they issued cheques to GTG for electricity supply, further stating that he had to know the full circumstances as to whether NAWEC and GTG had shared the debts owed by GTG. He disclosed that they had ongoing projects during his time, such as the Brikama Power Plant, Greater Banjul Area Electricity Supply and the Street Lights.

He narrated that the Rural Electrification Project was done by different contractors; adding that the said projects were all tendered and all the contracts went through due process. He indicated that the award of contract was based on the evaluation by NAWEC, noting that Dabananeh Company is owned by Mr. Alagie Conteh.

According to Mr. Jallow, he could recall Mr. Conteh being awarded some contracts and it went through due process, noting that Mr. Conteh never advised him neither was he given special treatment.

Dwelling on the Venuzela contract, he said it was for the transmission and distribution for the Greater Banjul Area, further stating that when he came back, the project was ongoing but stopped because he was removed.

At this juncture, Counsel Andrews put it to him that according to Mr. Jobe, they were relying on the goodwill of GTG for the supply of oil. He responded that Mr. Jobe was entitled to his opinion.

A letter dated 7th of July, 2010, was given to him and he said he could not remember the said letter, noting that GTG was there as their partners. He adduced that he was not aware of the reason for terminating Mr. Conteh’s contract.

It was further put to him that Mr. Fadi Mazegi got involved in the invoices and he answered in the positive. It was again put to him that Mr. Muhamed Bazzi cajoled NAWEC to pay him what the company owed him. He responded in the negative.

“I am putting it to you that Mr. Bazzi requested for the sum of $20,000 because the former president wanted to go to the Hajj,” said Counsel Andrews. In response, he told the commission that the former president needed the money for the Hajj.

The former NAWEC boss explained that there was no need for Mr. Bazzi to put pressure on them to be paid, noting that anytime GTG got invoices for NAWEC to pay them, they were paid. He said the management contract was in place and that transactions were going. He adduced that the taskforce could not pay themselves, noting that Mr. Bazzi would call them to pay the taskforce whenever they demanded cheques.

Mr. Jallow testified that they were told that NAWEC should buy two sets of generators and SSHFC would provide the funds. At this point, another document was given to him regarding the supply of the two generators contract which he signed. He confirmed that the generators were supplied.

On Fajara Booster Station occupied by GTG, he said he could not remember the details of the contract but they were told that they could build any structure they wanted. He added that this was why he did not sign the contract. The witness further adduced that GTG did some renovation on the structure at the Booster Station.

It was again put to him that a storage facility at the said place was rehabilitated, and he answered in the positive. He was shown a drafted contract and upon perusal, he said the draft contract was about 10 years ago.

On Global Power System (GPS), Mr. Jallow told the commission that they supplied oil to NAWEC and that he knows the company, noting that they had arrangement with NAWEC to service their generators but he does not know the shareholders of the said company.

However, Counsel Andrews put it to him that GPS took GTG to court for not paying bills. It was further put to him that GEG and GTG had nothing to do with GPS, and he responded that as far as he knows, they used to work together in the country.

According to him, GEG was controlling power supply in the country; adding that he could not remember whether GTG had bided for contract for spare parts. “Could Gambians have afforded to do without the supply of HFO?” inquired Counsel Andrews. He answered that Gambians needed HFO, noting that in business, the economy is never stagnant.

At this juncture, he was asked whether NAWEC enjoyed unlimited supply of oil on credit, and he responded in the positive. He said in 2006, two managing directors were eliminated and subsequently, his finance director was also eliminated. He said it was correct that he rented his property to Mr. Manhat in 2004 up to 2013-2014.

However, he said he did not know that Mr. Manhat was an employee of Mr. Bazzi prior to renting him the place, further stating that he had problems with Mr. Bazzi when he felt that he could not do what he wanted from him without any clearance.

At this juncture, Mrs. Bensouda asked him to go through a letter and explain the circumstances surrounding the said letter but before the witness answered, Counsel Andrews objected to the question.

Consequently, Commission Chairman, Sourahata Janneh, said that the said letter was admitted through the witness, and the commission did not see why a question from the commission counsel should not be allowed. He then overruled the objection and allowed the witness to answer the said question.

Mr. Jallow then responded that following a meeting between PURA and the Ministry of Finance, they were trying to increase the tariff but they were asked by the authorities to reduce it, because they felt that what NAWEC was requesting was too high.

Next to testify was Mr. Abdoulie Tambedou, managing director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA). He was asked what position he held between 2010 and 2013 respectively, in response, he reiterated that from 2010-2011, April, he was Finance director. He told the commission that as far as he knows; GPA did not accede to give a land to Gambia Milling Corporation (GMC) for the flour mill project. He said they were directed by the office of the former president to surrender the land to the said company.

According to him, as director of Finance then, he was part of the management to meet the Bazzi group; adding that during his tenure, it was not agreed for GPA to surrender the land to GMC. He said a letter before him did not state that the land should be acceded to GMC. However, he said the author of the letter, Mr. Ousman Jobarteh, and the managing director at the time, Momodou Lamin Gibba, are both around and they would be in a better position to explain the circumstances surrounding the land.

It was put to him by Counsel Andrews that the land surrendered to GMC was not valued at D18, 000,000. In response, Mr. Tambedou revealed that the office of the former president in collaboration with GPA valued the said land when there was a push and pull over it.

Earlier, the managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Adesina Adebesin, was reminded by Counsel Bensouda that he was supposed to verify a summary prepared by him. He said Mobicell Blue Ocean had a Dollar, Euro and Dalasi accounts respectively.

He told the commission that the debit on the Euro account was €6,001,939.33 while the credit was €6,002,279.10. He revealed that he had the debit and credit advices for all the accounts.

At this juncture, Mrs. Bensouda applied for a stand down for 30 minutes for the witness to verify some documents and her application was granted.             

The commission resumes today.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, July 21, Amadou Samba testified that the villagers of Mandinary made a lot of request, such as the building of a road which he said cost over US$400,000, and they were also asked to refurbish the mosque.

Author: Dawda Faye