By Awa B. Bah

Deputies at the National Assembly on Tuesday 26th June 2018 considered and approved an additional remuneration of three hundred thousand dalasi for each Commissioner, for the extension of the ‘Janneh’ Commission of enquiry, for another period of three months.

The Minister of Justice tabled a motion for the assembly to consider and approve the remuneration of Commissioners appointed by the President of the Republic, to inquire into the financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh, with an amount of D300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dalasi)  for each Commissioner, following a further extension of the Commission to three months.

It could be recall that this is the third time the Commission’s operation has been extended.

The Justice Minister went on to explain the reasons behind this decision. He reminded members that the President of the Republic Adama Barrow, established the said Commission on 12th July last year, pursuant to Section 200 of the 1997 Constitution; that based on this, that President appointed Surahata Janneh as Chairman, Bai Mass Saine as Member and Abiosseh George as another Member

The Minister said the Commission’s mandate was extended to an additional six months, which term expired for a further period of three months based on the following:

the continued emergence of new evidence, which warrants the calling of more witnesses to testify; the numerous public enterprises, bodies and offices that are the subject of inquiry and the time frame of the investigations covering a period of over 22 years, from 22nd July 1994, to 21st January 2017.

He called on the members to consider and approve the remuneration amount of D300,000 (Three Hundred Thousand Dalasi) for each of the said commissioners.

He noted that the Commissioners have suspended their professional careers to devote more time to the work of the Commission for an additional three months; that considering the usual fees and charges of such profession for comparative work in the private sector, the request is made pursuant to Section 16 (1) of the Commission of Inquiry Act, Cap 30, Volume 5 of the Laws of the Gambia which states: ‘Subject to subsection (2) of this Section, Commissioners appointed under this Act are not entitled to any remuneration beyond the actual expenses incurred in holding the inquiry, unless such remuneration is specifically voted for by the National Assembly.’

Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, questioned the minister on the dealings of former President Jammeh that warrants his appearance before them for the third time, to request for additional remuneration and extension of their mandate, and how much it is costing the state to maintain the services of Counsels working for the Commission.

Other members informed the minister that they expected him to come with a report of the Commission on what they have achieved for consideration, before talking about the renewal of their mandate.

Halifa Sallah, in his intervention, indicated that the Commission was established and they are informed of the need under Section 16 subsection 1 of the Commission of inquiry Act, for the assembly to approve the remuneration for the Commissioners, because they are only entitled to what they actually spend.

Sallah emphasized that this sum must be paid from the general revenue; that it is coming from the consolidation fund, and it is important for them to know the benefits for the exercise; that it important for the minister to sum up what have been achieved so far, the assets that have been frozen and the state of those assets.

The AG and Justice Minister in response, said Mrs Amie Bensouda is being maintained at a much discounted rate.

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