Police urged to produce PS Banja investigation report

Feb 23, 2021, 12:35 PM | Article By: Alagie Baba

Top political analyst, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, who also is the leader of the opposition Citizen Alliance Party (CA) has urged The Gambia Police Force (GPF) to produce the investigation report on Dr. Bamba Banja, erstwhile permanent secretary at the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources.

The PS is currently on administrative leave (suspended) after his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal. The scandal was unravelled by Malagen Online Newspaper with an audio alleged to be the voice of the embattled permanent secretary who was recorded as saying: “this one I’ll share with my minister.” Dr. Banja has since denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson, Ebrima Sankareh, once confirmed that police have completed investigation into the alleged corruption involving Dr. Banja.

Dr. Ceesay, who was speaking to reporters on Friday during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Kanifing, also recalled: “NAWEC gave notification in September 2020 of their intention to award a multi-million dollar project TBEA, a Chinese company under its Gambia Electricity Restoration and Modernisation Project. However, coincidentally, the same company deposited $35 million into the First Lady's account and a couple of months later, the same company won the contract with NAWEC."

He added: “In October last year, an audio was circulating around the social media on how the money was being received by officials at the Ministry of Fisheries. Therefore, the police need to produce the report of their investigation.”

The political scientist said funds were disbursed in the fight against Covid-19 but there was no “transparency in the whole process”. “The government has refused to transparently reveal the breakdown of the expenditures," he said, adding; “The government needs to provide the public with the breakdown of the expenditures instead of the bulk expenditures. Even with this bulk expenditure there are discrepancies in the report. It made us think the government is hiding something.”

Dr. Ceesay maintained that the purpose of the transition was to reform public institutions in order to make them more transparent, to make them more accountable and to fight corruption.

“But what we have seen so far, instead of reforming institutions, people are busy reforming themselves and that is the tragedy. There is high level corruption in this country. We want the government to expedite the Anti-Corruption Bill so that the country has an Anti-Corruption Commission as soon as possible.”

He called on government to expedite the Access to Information Bill so that people including journalists and politicians could access information without hindrance. Ceesay opined that the government should “appoint prosecuting officers for corruption whose principal function is to do prosecution as it regards to corruption cases.”