‘The attitude of the former president confused the community’

Friday, February 16, 2018

Abdoulie Cham, director at the Geology Department, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the former president confused the community of Badari village.

He was testifying in connection to the mining site at Badari village which involved the former president. He testified that the said mining site was triggered by certain people in 2012, who told his department that they came with some samples.

He said that he told them that they could not depend on information but would visit the site, further stating that they had an appointment but they failed.  He adduced that the current government had written to them to provide them with samples.

Mr. Cham told the commission that they visited the site and when they came back, they prepared a report, noting that there was a sample given to the current government but he did not know where it came from.

He further stated that they recommended that investors could come and invest.  At this junction, samples were shown to him but he said that they were similar to the ones he had seen before, noting that they needed to be supported to test the samples.

He informed the commission that he could not tell how much it would cost for the testing, further revealing that there was no due process at the Badari Mining Site.

Mr. Cham told the commission that Touray and Brothers told him that they wanted a permit to enter the site, and as a result, they issued them with a permit.  He said that soldiers were deployed at the site.

He testified that they worked in partnership with individuals to do the testing of stones.  However, it was put to him that gem stones are used for jewelry, which he confirmed.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him whether the country had lost money on the said mining site. In response, he said it would be difficult to tell whether the country had lost money.

According to Mr. Cham, one had to investigate the quality, value and whether the minerals were marketable; adding that they have the means to detect crystal stones. It was again put to him by Mrs. Bensouda that the former president spent many years to excavate at the Badari Mining Site.

One Mr. Jawo, who assisted the witness, told the commission that people thought that there were precious stones and that the former president sent some soldiers to take care of the site, who knew nothing about the said mining site.

Mr. Jawo added that they could not tell whether those who were mining at the site reached the stones, but they had prepared their report on the matter.

At this juncture, documents relating to the mining site were tendered and admitted in evidence.

Continuing his testimony, Mr. Cham testified that they wanted the workers at the site to benefit and to be protected, but there was this attitude of the former president; adding that the Geology Department wanted things to go strictly with their Act. He said it did not help when the former president was using power regarding the mining site, noting that they knew that the excavation would stop because the workers were not paid by the former president.

Mr. Cham posited that the former president was given a license but it did not mean that the mining site belonged to him, further testifying that they were not put in the picture regarding the excavation at the said site.

At this juncture, a document was shown to him who he said was the application for the Touray Brothers to be issued a license. But the chairman of the commission, Sourahata Janneh, brought to his attention that on the reverse of the said document was written APAM and KGI.

In response, he stated that it was a mistake and that he handed the wrong document to the commission, and promised to produce the correct one.

Sittings continue on Monday 19th of this month, 2018.

Author: Dawda Faye