By Mamadou Dem
The Managing Director of Euro Africa Group, Mr. Fadia George Mazagi and former Secretary Generals and Heads of the Civil Service and Presidential Affairs Ministers, Messrs’. Momodou Sabally and Njogu Bah respectively, yesterday testified before the Janneh Commission of Inquiry setup by the state to probe into the assets and financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh, his close associates and family. For Messrs’ Sabally and Mazagi, this was a continuation from their previous testimonies whilst for Mr. Njogu Bah, this is his first time of testifying before the commission.
Mr. Mazagi in continuation of his testimony, told commission members that Global Trading Group was registered in 2015 as a Company incorporated outside the Gambia. At this juncture, lead counsel Amie Bensouda applied to tender certificate of business registration, memorandum of Article and Tin Number, as exhibits which were admitted and marked accordingly by the chairman of the Commission.
According to the witness, there were two projects awarded to Water Resources and Development by Global Trading Group for the electrification of West Coast Region and the Supply of Electrical Materials and refurbishment of electricity within the Greater Banjul Area. He further testified that Water Resource and Development Limited was registered in the Gambia in 2009. The certificate of business registration, memorandum of article, Tin number as well as Certificate of incorporation of this company, were also admitted as exhibits. “Is Water Resources and Development Limited still operating?” counsel quizzed.
Responding, Mr. Mazagi said: “No it is not operating now,” noting that there was a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Global Trading and Water Resources Development Limited. He added that Muhammed Bazi worked for Euro Africa Group as Commercial Manager while Bilal Bazi owns a company in the Gambia …… Petroleum.
“Global Trading assigned Water Resources to execute the said projects on its behalf for the supervision and management of the projects. Bilal signed on behalf of Water Resources and Development Limited while I signed on behalf of Global Trading Company. I do not have the original copy of the MOU but I will provide it to the Commission,” he clarified.
Upon perusal of a document, counsel discovered that the Agreement between the two companies were in three clauses and the terms and conditions between Global Trading and Water Resources were not specific and stipulated in the agreement.
When questioned, the witness responded that the two companies are sister companies and they felt that there was no need to have such. The said agreement was also admitted and marked accordingly.
Counsel further asked the witness whether Global Trading had a contract with the National Water and Electricity Company Limited (NAWEC) because Global Trading in 2001-2002, supplied NAWEC with 300 and 600 Megawatt generators. The witness replied in the negative adding that in 2009, Global Trading was not registered in the Gambia.
“We would like you to provide a comprehensive list of all the contracts you had with NAWEC, prior to 2009,” Counsel solicited.
At that point, Counsel informed the witness that there were 32 vehicles shipped and supplied to the Office of the President. The witness responded in the affirmative. The bill of laden and notice of delivery of the said vehicles, dated 12 November 2013, were also admitted as evidence before the Commission. Mr. Bazi confirmed that the supply of vehicles was a contract between Global Trading and Office of the former President, noting that Euro Africa Group pays directly to the supplier in Banjul. “At Global Trading Company, Muhammed Bazi has 75% and I have 25%. For Gam petroleum, Muhammed Bazi has 31% and I have 10.5%, SSHFC 31%, GPA 14%, GNPC 10% and MoFEA 10%. Amadou Samba use to have 10% and out of that 10% GPA has 4%, GNPC 3% and MoFEA 3%”.
Meanwhile the MOU, Article of Association and Certificate of Business Registrations dated 27th January 2010, together with other relevant documents of Multi Shipping Agency, were admitted as exhibits.
Counsel further enquired from the witness about Global Management Services System (GMSS). The witness disclosed that the said company provides services and experts to NAWEC. “Fedigy is my off shore company and I have 99% share while my cousin owns 1%. He added that Lang Conteh is the Managing Director of Petro Gas Company but acknowledges that he was the Executive Director of Euro Africa Group which deals with the importation of petroleum amongst others.
“What is the status of Euro Africa Group, is it still functional?” asked counsel. “Yes,” replied the witness. “NAWEC owes Euro Africa Group $65,000.000. We owed the local banks, namely Standard Charted, Trust, Eco and Access Banks respectively, $40,000.000 and Total Company $25,000.000,” said the witness. “When NAWEC owes us sixty-five million dollars, we told them that we are no longer in position to supply them and that was the time the Ministry of Finance intervened. There was a bond that NAWEC sent to the local banks,” he revealed.
Mr Mazagi further told the Commission that their companies are tax compliant but was informed that the Commission will look into that. The Commission then urged him to provide tax clearance certificates when next he appears before the Commission.
At this point, Counsel Bensouda asked him to provide all the documents regarding the transaction between his company and the Office of the former president through the Central Bank as well as the tax clearance certificates, before the Commission.
Next to continue with his testimony, was Momodou Sablly. Mr. Sabally was first reminded about the transaction and withdrawal of funds from Carnaige Minerals’ Account. Prior to his testimony, counsel indicated to him that there was a withdrawal by one Makam Bah, amounting to D2,000,000 which he confirmed to the Commission adding that Mr. Bah was the orderly and he at times delegate him to withdraw money on his behalf because of his busy schedules. According to Sabally, the transactions are by narrative and were kept in record which were all directives from the office of the former president. He remarked, “The president will give verbal directive, endorsed it and we will record it”. Regarding withdrawals of $5,400, 000.00 amongst others, he informed the Commission that all these transactions are backed by narratives from the former President.
In relation to the payment of 12 million dalasis to one Sering Touba Ndure, Sabally testified that Mr. Ndure was one of the contractors to the former President but he never met Mr. Ndure and may not be able to recognize him. According to counsel, the said sum was from the Tax Recovery Account.
Mr. Sabally disclosed that some of the payments are made without going through an accounting officer or system while others go through that process. “I would like to go through the files to know the project Ndure was assigned to. If the President did not give directive, there is no way I will execute or purchase anything given my background as economist. The President gives directives when he felt necessary,” Sabally said. “I felt that certain students need to be sponsored but there was nothing I could do about it as the President sponsors anyone he feels like as I was also sponsored by him,” he added.
The former Civil Servant said he would say there was no budget at the office of the President allocated to students and even if there was, it has gone beyond the budget. He confirmed that there was a transaction of six hundred and seventy thousand Euros for the purchase of 32 cars by Euro Africa when Gambia hosted the Organization of Islamic Conference (IOC). He said after the conference, some of the vehicles were donated to the team of Syrian doctors.
Next to continue with his evidence was Ansumana Jammeh, former Ambassador to Qatar who provided the Commission with the bank statements of Patriot Company Limited, dated from December 2015 to December 2016 noting that the company was incorporated in 2015 to Royal Africa holding Company. “The bank refused to give me bank statements because I am a minor share holder unless the Commission asked them,” he disclosed. “I resigned from Royal Africa Company in 2016 because I was not happy the way they were doing business. Nor do I have the bank statements,” said the witness. “MALIGAM was under investigation since 2013 by the defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Police. MALIGAM stopped operating in 2013-2014. My annual budget for the Gambia Embassy in Qatar was two to three million,” he expounded.
Mr. Jammeh finally testified that his company, Patriot Insurance Company, was in the same office with APAM but was quick to add that the company was an insurance brokerage and not a full time insurance company.
Mr. Njogu Bah, former Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Presidential Affairs Minister, gave a synopsis of the offices and positions he held under the former administration of Jammeh. He said basically he served as Secretary General on five occasions.
“I was appointed SG on January 8th 2010, and I did not know the circumstances that led to the termination of Carnagie Minerals contract; but the reference number in the file will help me to know whether it was given as a directive or given during a meeting.”
He said he could not say much about APAM as they only react based on the directives sent to them from the Geological Department and has no idea about how APAM came into existence. “I can recalled the account of National Security, Tax Recovery and Carnagie Minerals but I cannot recall whether I was signatory to Carnagie Minerals’ account neither do I know the purpose of the National Security Account,” said Bah.
Mr. Bah further testified that he could recalled what APAM does; that he was not aware that APAM was involved in mining in Upper River Region (URR).
“Whom did you consider the social associates of Jammeh?” quizzed Commission Chairman Janneh.
At that juncture Mr. Bah was silent for some time and later informed the Commission that he needed time to come back with answers.
On the issue of the Taiwanese grant, he said Taiwan has bilateral relations with the office of the President and would request from the government to identify projects and final approval will be done by the President and budget will be allocated. He said he does not know whether there was a specific file for the Taiwanese grant neither does he know whether there was any grant from Qatar when he was Secretary General.
Mr. Bah was finally asked by counsel to make himself available today to the Secretary of the commission in respect of those files.