I did not sign the constitution that established the foundation Says Fatou Mass Jobe

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, former minister of Tourism, who was also one time executive director of Save the Children Foundation, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that she did not sign the constitution that established the said foundation. She reappeared in connection to the said foundation’s accounts.

She testified that the foundation was constituted in November, 2014, and was setup as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and confirmed that she signed documents for the secretary and all correspondences which were dispatched by her office should be seen by the secretary general.

According to her, the former first lady was the chairperson of the foundation; adding that she took over as executive director from the permanent secretary, office of the former first lady, who was also handling the affairs of the foundation.

When asked by Counsel Bensouda regarding the connection of the foundation with the office of the former president, she responded that there were no connections between the foundation and the office of the former president. However, she told the commission that the foundation was operated at State House where she had her office.

Mrs. Njie testified that this was the practice she inherited from the permanent secretary, office of the former first lady and she was part of the executive board, and there was a constitution that established the foundation. She said the foundation had a purpose and there was nothing put in place to achieve its objective. She said she did not know whether the foundation was registered.

She further stated that the board was informed about the activities of the foundation and the first lady together with the former Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, were signatories to the account.

She informed the commission that she did not know whether the constitution was amended, further stating that the foundation was a private organisation to complement the effort of the former government.

However, Mrs.Njie stated that the said foundation had two bank accounts which were at the Trust Bank and GuarantyTrust Bank respectively, noting that the Trust Bank account was opened on the 11 May, 2015, during her time.

She told the commission that she was using the letterhead of the office of the former president as the executive director, adding that she did not need to see the sectary general to make payments.

 “The accounts were funded through donations,” she testified.

She disclosed that she was guided by a five-year strategic development plan, noting that there was no guideline as to who can give out money to the foundation

It was put to her by Counsel Bensouda that the public enterprise donated to the organisation, and asked her to name them.

In response, she said AMRC, GRA, PURA and Gam Petroleum donated monies to the foundation, further stating that they would write to these institutions to make pledges when they had gala dinner. She said they made D10, 000,000 from fund raising activities out of which they donated the sum of D7, 700,000. She revealed that all funds that were deposited to GT Bank were from donations and the dollar account was credited with $20,000 and the sum of $10,000 was donated during the breakfast meeting.

According to her, the first lady of Turkey also donated the sum of $75,000 at the breakfast meeting and the sum of $130,000 was transferred to a Moroccan company for leasing of equipment for the event.  However, she agreed with the counsel that there were subsequent transfers made to the same company in Morocco which she said was all in line with the event.

She said the total sum of money paid out for the event was $400,000; adding that she did not do any due diligence and what she saw was an invoice requesting for payment but she could not pay further, as there were no funds and she only paid the sum of $130,000 and $60,000 respectively.

Further buttressing on the leasing of equipment, she disclosed that she paid 48,174 Dinar which was equivalent to $80,000, as they made two different payments to the tune of $38,000 and $42,000 respectively. She testified that she did not prepare any financial statement of the foundation.

She confirmed applying for a land on behalf of the foundation at The Gambia Tourism Board under the directive of the former president which was granted; further stating that the land issue came about after a meeting was held and the purpose was to build a shopping complex.

Mrs. Njie said The Gambia Tourism Board was not forced to give out the land which they applied for because it was not a directive from the former president and she had returned the lease to them in December, 2017.

She said they were advised by a Tunisian architect to apply for a land to enable them generate enough income for the implementation of their activities. The witness further confirmed that over $800,000 was paid to Online Verbal Video.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda asked her if she would be able to provide the commission with a total income of the foundation to which she responded in the affirmative.

However, it was observed by the counsel that out of $300,000 generated by the foundation, only $25,000 was spent in the name of a child. On whether the foundation was registered, she said she would not know, as she was not in town; adding that their accounts were not audited.

Mrs. Njie testified that the first inaugural meeting of the board was held on the 16 July, 2015, which she attended, noting that she usually sent the report to the board via email and that the signature in the constitution was not hers but rather someone signed on her behalf. She said she only saw her name when the constitution was given to her.

Documents produced by the witness including her acceptance letter for the position of executive director of the foundation were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

Next to testify was Mariama Ceesay-Mboob, principal registrar of the High Court. She was summoned to produce two High Court case files involving the late Baba Jobe and Ansoumana Jammeh respectively.

According to her, on the 11th of October, 2003, a case was brought against the late Baba Jobe, Babucarr Kanteh and Youth Development Enterprise which was a criminal case, further stating that she had two affidavits of service and warrant to forfeit property to the Sheriff of the High Court.  She told the commission that she also had the judge’s proceedings.

She revealed to the commission that the late Mr. Jobe was convicted in 2005 and was also liable to pay Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) the sum of D24,000,000 in default his properties would to be forfeited to the state.

At this juncture, commission’s counsel, Amie Bensouda asked her to find out whether there was an appeal in this case. In the case of Ansoumana Jammeh, she testified that it was a criminal matter which involved the state versus Ansoumana Jammeh, Sanna Bah and Assan Badjie. She said she also had the proceedings and judgement and that they were sentence with a fine.

According to her, it was also ordered by the judge for the forfeiture of property located at Bijilo, Coastal Layout and a vehicle purchased over D1, 000,000 and he was further ordered to pay to the state the sum of D24, 000,000 within a period of 36 months starting from the date of judgement.

Mrs. Mboob is also expected to find out whether there was execution in Ansoumana Jammeh’s case. She finally told the commission that CONAPRO was also introduced in the country by Mr. Jammeh and it was through that the Animal Feed was established. Documents relating to the two files were tendered and admitted in evidence.

Bull Dibba, permanent secretary, Ministry of the Interior, appeared in connection to citizenship programme and told the commission that he heard about the said programme, and was informed that it was a capital investment programme. He said he became aware of this programme in May, 2017 through a private citizen. He said he received an email from the private citizen with an attachment of Hong Kong Visa hand book and a capital investment.

He said he also received a form signed by the former director general of Immigration, presided over by Pa Mboob on behalf of the director. He said there was no indication as to who published the said hand book.

According to him, the hand book was about application for entrance programmes and so on; adding that he later forwarded the said email to the former Interior minister, Mai Ahmed Fatty, as he thought the email was more of intelligence issue and he informed the director of the National Intelligence Agency, now SIS to make findings about the sender and to interrogate him.

He said he did not get any feedback from the director of the intelligence service but was later told by the immigration department that the process was going on since Jawara’s time.

Mr. Dibba testified that he prepared a closed file which showed that an agreement was made between Mainland China and the Ministry of the Interior for ID programmes.

Documents produced by the witness in connection to citizenship programme were tendered and admitted in evidence.

Hearing continues today.

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture:Fatou Mass Jobe