#National News

Mam Sait Njie describes Jammeh as monster, fraudster

May 31, 2021, 12:00 PM

Mam Sait Njie, on Wednesday appeared before the TRRC and described former President Yahya Jammeh as a monster and fraudster after his intersection with Jammeh in connection with a land transaction he was involved in with the Social Security Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC).
Njie said Yahya Jammeh demanded 300 plots from him, with the pretext that he was going to give them to Gambian footballers and APRC party militants. According to Mr Njie, Jammeh later compelled Social Security Housing Finance Cooperation to buy the 300 plots at a total of D30,000,000.
He added that the monies were later collected by General Sulayman Badjie to Yahya Jammeh in D15,000,000 installments, saying surprisingly, that the last D15,000,000 was disbursed in a hurry as Yahya Jammeh’s wife Zainab urgently wanted to travel.
Njie, an entrepreneur and an engineer testified that after his studies in Drammen Polytechnic in Norway, he was opportune to work for the company that built the biggest hospital in Drammen. 
In his intention to establish a cement plant in The Gambia, he told the Commission that he was asked to produce a letter of intent from the government of The Gambia. Njie met with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Planning, Dr Langley (late)who instructed the former Principal Economist, Mr Alieu Ngum and Mr Amadou Taal to prepare the letter of intent.
Mr Njie recollected that at that time, The Gambia was importing 50 metric tons of cement per year. He said the cement plant he worked for in Norway, Norcem, had cement plants in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo, adding that this was why he wanted it for his country.
“The Norwegian Development Aid opted to give The Gambia Government the sum of $35,000,000 for the project. When the project went public, the domestic cement importers lobbied to ensure that this project doesn’t exist in The Gambia. The project which was approved by Cabinet did not take off the ground. I was really frustrated and and even thought of returning to Norway and not coming back. I was consoled by my mother. 
The cement plant was not the only project I intended for The Gambia, explained Njie. He recollected that someone working at the International Trade Centre in Geneva, ITC, suggested that The Gambia would be good  for flower farms and suggested doing a feasibility study and this was done. The flower farm materialized in a leased land in Makumbaya village.
Witness Njie said the farm used to export 20 tons of flowers per week to the British market, employing 350 workers.
In 1994,when Yahya Jammeh took over through a coup, all the support staff of the Flower Farm were repatriated to their respective countries.
According to him, a few years after the coup, the Agriculture Minister under the Jammeh regime asked him whether the irrigation system on the farm was for sale, he replied in the negative because even though they no longer produce flowers, they have planned to produce onions and other vegetables by British investors. The investors were constantly harassed,arrested and held at the notorious NIA in an attempt to get information about the lease agreement between Njie and the investors.  This continued for some time with even at times being asked for money. Eventually after the three year contract expired, it was not renewed. The British went back home.
Witness Njie continued, that another project he had for the country was with the Danish, a diary plant called the Lamin Diary Plant. The Chief of Kombo North, Mr Dodou Touray , (late)felt good about this project and land was made available for the Diary Plant. Unfortunately this did not come to fruition either. Next, 
Witness Njie thought about a low cost housing project for low income earners eg teachers, health workers security personnel, and contacted SSHFC for discussions. SSHFC were interested as they had already done it at the Bakoteh Housing Estate.
All necessary documents were submitted to SSHFC and during the course of reviewing the documents, he said,the attorney for SSHFC, Amie Bensouda confirmed that all his documents were genuine. The total sum for the project was D470,000,000.
In the agreement, he added SSHFC will have 70% , while he(witness) will have 30%. Based on these agreements, he said, SSHFC was supposed to provide all the development in the land, including water and electricity.
Mr Njie testified that he acquired his lands in 1989 but was forced to participate in a Land Commission with a jurisdiction from 2005 to 2010. The Commission ordered him to return the lands to the villagers. According to Njie, 
SSHFC later wrote to him in 2019 asking him to pay back the D30,000,000 but Njie replied that he was willing to pay the money but the Cooperation must give him back the virgin land in it’s original state that witness Njie handed to them in 2009.
Subsequently , Njie explained that he was charged for Economic Crime for failing to pay Capital Gains Tax, was arrested and detained at the Kairaba Police Station for two months before being taken to Mile 2 Prisons. 
Subsequently, he said the court convicted and sentenced him to 9 years imprisonment. He was later pardoned after serving 6 months in prison.
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