Kanilai Institute of Technology costs over D47M - Ex-Deputy Speaker reveals

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mrs. Fatou  Mbaye, former deputy speaker of the National Assembly, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the Kanilai Institute of Technology costs the sum of D47, 398,749.75.

She was testifying in connection to Kanilai Institute of Technology which was initiated by the former president.

According to her, the said institute was initiated by the former president purposely to improve the teaching of maths, science and technology in the country. However, she said the name of the institute was initially changed by the former president.

She testified that the former president was invited by Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and GTTI was to oversee the construction which was awarded to a contractor in 2007.

She added that the contract was signed by GTTI on behalf of the former president, and it was awarded by the former president to one Abdoulie Jaiteh but she was not privy to the said contract; adding that she was not in possession of the bill of quantities and that they could not find any copies at their office, noting that the institute was built at Kanilai.

According to her, the total cost of the contract was D47, 398,749.75. She disclosed that the sum of D37, 189,146 was received from the Taiwanese Embassy in a form of cheques. She said this amount was converted to dollars and there was a shortfall of D10, 000,000.

She disclosed that the cheques received went into the GTTI account and the project did not complete because the contract stopped, noting that the D37, 189,146 did not include the external works, notwithstanding, they continued paying the salary of the night watchman.

Documents relating to the institute together with other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.

She finally testified that apart from the extra funding from GTTI, all the funds were from Taiwan and they wrote several letters to the government requesting for the outstanding balance of the contract but to no avail. They refused to build the auditorium because of the incomplete payments owed to them. 

Testifying earlier, the managing director of Swami India International Ltd., Khimiji Patel, appeared in connection to the construction of dormitories at Kanilai. He said the cost for the contract was D9.2 million which was funded by Kanilai Family Farms (KFF) but the money was received from Amadou Samba.

At this juncture, he revealed that he had all the payments that went into their account; however, he said he could not remember where all the monies came from and apart from the said contract; they did not do any contract at Kanilai.

According to him, Kanilai International Group bought two storey buildings from his company at Paradise Estate; adding that the storey buildings at the Paradise Estate are called the Toronto Houses. He confirmed that General Saul Badjie did not buy any houses from him neither did the former first lady.

At this juncture, a copy of the sale agreement, a bill of quantities and other relevant documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits. Chairman Sourahata Janneh asked him whether the company was registered and he answered in the positive.

Mrs. Bensouda then asked him to produce the certificate of incorporation of the company. However, Chairman Sourahata Janneh put it to him that the name on the contract was Pigil Patel. In response, he said Patel is the name of his tribe.

Mr. Patel was, however, asked to furnish the commission with the Memorandum and Article of Association, Business Registration Certificate and Tax Clearance respectively.

Augustus Prom Junior, Louise Prom, earlier testified that they did not come across any report that KGI received the Japanese rice. After looking at an audit report, he said it was indicated that KGI owed D26, 462,000 to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Contract agreement between KFF and his company and other relevant documents relating to the contract were admitted in evidence.

Next to testify was Fatou Sinyang Mbergan, sectary general of the Banjul Breweries ltd., who was summoned in connection to Green Industries Company Ltd.

She said the company was engaged in manufacturing clothes among others, and the materials were initially imported. She said she was not privy to the shareholders of the said company, noting that she was appointed as the chairperson of the board of the company.

According to her, she received a letter from former secretary general, Njogou Bah, indicating that she was appointed by the former president to serve as the board chairperson in March, 2009.

She said she did not get the Memorandum of Article of Association, noting that she did not know the owner of the said company but assumed that it was a government company which was a limited liability company.

Mrs. Mbergan further told the commission that the members of the board of the company were one Mustapha Colley, Morr Jobe, Madam Jeg Cham and Antony Carvalho, and Njogou Bah served as secretary to the board.

She testified that they were not officially informed that the company was closed and that all the machineries of the company were dismantled, further noting that they were operating from the July 22nd Park at the airport and had an outlet at Kairaba Avenue.

She disclosed that the said office was allocated to them by the former president and they were not paying rent, stating that they used to receive monies from the office of the former president by transfers into their accounts at Trust Bank.

She said the industries started in 2008 but came on board in 2009, disclosing that they opened an account and the signatories were herself, Mr. Carvalho and Mustapha Colley, noting that the activities of the industry were anchored at GEIPA office.

She further told the commission that the manager, Elizabeth Dambel, was asked to handover to the accountant, Alagie Jaiteh, noting that they had four members as part of the management and the office of the former president was financing the company and funds were from the said office which opened the account.

According to her, they were sending reports to the office of the former president as to how the funds were spent, and that they were not audited but were keeping some minutes of meetings. She said there was some cash at the bank when the company was folded.

She revealed that the sales of the company was D2.3 million from uniforms and contracts, further stating that they were not making payments to the office of the former president.

Mrs. Mbergan finally testified that initially they had 131 employees but it later rose to140 staff before it was folded. 

Lamin Camara, permanent secretary No. 2, Ministry of Finance, was summoned in connection to Japanese Food Aid, and testified that his findings revealed that his ministry played a little role in the project and most of the arrangements were between the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture.

According to him, his ministry was not involved in the Taiwanese grants and this was not normal; adding that resources coming into the country should be well documented. He told the commission that he was not aware that KGI was selling rice from grants given by Japan.

PS Camara, however, testified that despite the fact that his ministry was not involved in the said grants, correspondences between the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and the Prison Department were copied to his ministry. He said it was a challenge for not involving the Finance Ministry in the management or implementation of the bilateral grants from Japan and Taiwan respectively.

He added that their ministry was more engaged in the multilateral funds given by either the World Bank, IMF among others; adding that  he was in possession of 20 accounts and the balance in this accounts was D260,000,000 and the sum of D120,000,000 came from the Japanese grant.

At this juncture, documents produced by the witness, such as agreements on the food aid and correspondences between the two ministries and prison department together with list of the 20 accounts were admitted in evidence.

The chief of protocol, office of the former president, Alagie Ousman Ceesay, reappeared in connection to the sum of $4,000,000 he received from Trust Bank on behalf of the former president.

Dwelling on this transaction, he confirmed receiving the said sum and testified that the former president instructed him to receive the money which he said was handed to him. He further confirmed that on the 9th of February, 2009, he received $2,000,000 from the said bank while on the 24th of January, 2011, he received an additional sum of $2,000,000, making it a total of $4,000,000.

Dr. Njogu Bah also reappeared and testified that it was correct that monies from Taiwan were used to renovate the former Taiwanese Embassy at Kanifing South purposely to be used as APRC Political Bureau. He also confirmed the disbursement of $1,000,000 to the Central Bank and over $900,000 to T.K Motors relating to the supply of government vehicles.

Mrs. Bensouda put it to him that at the beginning, the former president was trying to pay back some monies but subsequently withdrew.

Sitting continues today.

Author: Dawda Faye