Ousman Jammeh appears before commission

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ousman Jammeh, former secretary-general, yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission.

He told the commission that he is retired from public service and had worked as secretary-general at the Office of the former President.

He also said that he was appointed as permanent secretary at the Office of the former President, adding that he also served as a minister in different portfolios and that in December 2011, he was wrongly charged and sentenced.

He adduced that he was later pardoned by the former president.

He was referred to Carnegie and Gamico mining companies and told that he was the secretary-general when Carnegie licence was terminated.

Mr Jammeh adduced that the former president told him that Carnegie Minerals was not doing the right thing, further stating that the former president was influenced by somebody that Carnegie was not living up to expectations.

Jammeh explained that he told the managing director of Carnegie about the concern raised by the former president.

Mr Jammeh stated that the managing director of Carnegie told him that they were just processing the mining, because the public needed the funds.

He added that Carnegie stopped operation, further noting that there was a group that came to The Gambia, who were introduced to the former president by Muhammed Bazzi.

He said the group had a meeting with the former president.

At this juncture, a letter dated 6 May 2011, from the Office of the former President for a payment of $500,000 was shown to him from the SSHFC account to the government of Japan for the Tsunami they suffered in the past. And he confirmed signing the said letter.

He posited that the former president visited Qatar where he met a group of investors, adding that the group was going to invest on agricultural products and create a market for rice cultivated in the country.

Mr Jammeh testified that the Carnegie Minerals had sued the former government at the court for wrongfully terminating its licence, further noting that he did not contact Mr Bazzi when Carnegie licence was terminated.

It was put to him that the investors from Qatar had Canadian passports, but he said they later knew that they were Lebanese nationals.

He was shown a document indicating that there was a payment to Amadou Samba to purchase a water tank, which he signed.

In response, he said, these were challenges from the Office of the former President, adding that it was difficult to turn down directives from the Office of the former President, and that such directives were not proper.

When put to him that the directives from the former president to withdraw money from SSHFC account were personal, Mr Jammeh said “it was not normal and was unconstitutional.”

He adduced that the former president had associates at SSHFC and Amadou Samba was the chairman of the board of the corporation, whom he said should have advised the former president on the legality of the matter.

Jammeh said he used to advise the former president, but he wouldn’t listen to him.

He confirmed that he was the secretary-general when NAWEC was given a loan of $7,931,000 for servicing their equipment, adding that the loan was from the SSHFC account.

Mr Jammeh testified that he had the impression that NAWEC would pay the loan.

When put to him that there was a right way to disburse loans to the Office of the former President, he replied that SSHFC had given the impression that funds were available, adding that this was why the Office of the former President kept on taking loans from the corporation.

In her turn, Mrs Ada Gaye told the commission that she was the permanent secretary at the agriculture ministry.

She was shown a document with relation to John Deere tractors seeking clearance for some farming equipment.

Mrs Gaye adduced that the agriculture ministry was asked to work with John Deere delegation, further stating that the former president wanted to mechanise agriculture.

She testified that she did not know how the John Deere delegation came to The Gambia, adding that there was no budget for the payment of the tractors.

She posited that the Office of the former President was supposed to pay for the tractors, but asked the SSHFC to pay for the tractors.

Fatou Njie was the next perform to testify. Njie said she is a public servant and is the deputy head of mission at The Gambia Embassy in Abuja.

She posited that she was at the Office of the former President and elaborated on her role as protocol officer.

When asked whether it was part of her duties to deal with cash, she replied that sometimes they were given cash to do some transactions.

Mrs Njie stated that the former First Lady had nobody to take care of her money when she travelled out of the country, adding that she (Njie) never received per diem.

There were documents she was referred to indicating that she had been directed to withdraw some money from the state aircraft account, and that she signed the documents.

She confirmed signing the documents, further noting that the total sum of money given to the former First Lady was D61, 000,000. Njie said this was the total sum of money she withdrew from the state aircraft account.

However, Mrs Njie said that there were directives from the Office of the former President to withdraw the money.

Fatou Njie said she used to send money to Eygpt, adding that she once sent her the sum of $469,961.98, while the former First Lady was in Morocco.

Author: Dawda Faye
Source: Picture: Ousman Jammeh,