PEGEP former executive director appears before Janneh Commission

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dominic Peter Jammeh, the former executive director of President Empowerment for Girls’ Education Project (PEGEP), yesterday appeared before the Janneh Commission to shed light on the project.

He told the commission that they stopped the operation when the accounts were closed, noting that he took over on the 21st June, 2011, and that he was appointed by the office of the former president through a directive.

Mr. Jammeh disclosed that he did not have the constitutional document as to how PEGEP was established when asked by Counsel Bensouda.  He stated that they did not have a board, and he was answerable to the secretary general.

According to him, he was overseeing the Jammeh Foundation for Peace which was also overseeing PEGEP. He testified further that PEGEP has a bank account, and that the former president was funding the project. He adduced that the Taiwanese embassy later came in to fund the project, noting that whenever they needed money, the former president would provide it.

He told the commission that they did not have a budget, and that the office of the former president had to approve the expenditures. He further testified that he got paid from the treasury department, stating that they had D150, 000 as subvention.

He adduced that no one was paid since the office was closed, and that PEGEP was set up in 2004. He said the project was to address girls’ education. He stated that the office of the former president would determine who should go for overseas studies, and also those who would go to the University of The Gambia.

Mr. Jammeh testified that he had a summary of three cheques he received from the Taiwanese embassy from 2011 to 2013. He said the cheque he received in 2011 was for the sum of $7000, and in 2012, the sum was $28, 000 and the sum of $7000 was received in 2013. He disclosed that they sponsored girls until 2016.

At this juncture, documents relating to PEGEP were tendered and admitted.

The next witness to testify under cross-examination was Abdoulie Cham, the director of Geological department. He was cross-examined by Counsel Victoria Andrews at the instance of Muhammed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi.

Counsel Andrews reminded the witness that the Geology department was selling sand in 2011. In response, Cham said he could not recall it. He stated that there was a request sent by General Badgie for Tony Ghatas to do sand mining but Cham said he was not present. He further stated that the letter allowing Mr. Ghatas was not from Gamico, a mining company.

At this juncture, he was shown some receipts by Counsel Andrews to go through it, which he did. He told the commission that the receipts were not from his department, noting that they were drawn by the Ministry of Local Government and Lands from 2013 to 2015.

At this juncture, Counsel Andrews applied to tender the said receipts, but Counsel Bensouda objected because they did not emanate from the geology department.

In his ruling, commission chairman, Surahata Janneh, said he had a letter signed by Muhammed Bazzi and the rest were the receipts from the Ministry of Local Government and Lands. He said that none of the receipts related to the department of geology. He then rejected the documents, and asked the counsel to tender them through the proper witness.

Still testifying under cross-examination, the witness told the commission that if General Badjie was working with Mr. Ghatas, it would be difficult to monitor the operation.

Counsel Andrews also tendered some documents relating to the geology department. Counsel Bensouda said she had no objection.

The documents were subsequently admitted in evidence.

The commission resumes on Monday.

Author: Dawda Faye