By Amie Sanneh

Alhamdullilah Petroleum Mining Company (APAM), which is believed to be associated with former President Yahya Jammeh, owes government millions of Dalasi. The company has not been paying royalty to government. Alieu Jawo Assistant Director of Geological Department, the eighth witness said so during yesterday’s sitting of the Commission of Inquiry into the assets and financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh (the Janneh Commission). The Commission is being chaired by Senior Lawyer Surahata Janneh.

Mr. Jawo said APAM is supposed to pay D364,650 for surface rental, D3400,000 for institutional training and HMC operation. Jawo said 63 containers were shipped in December, 2016 totaling 1707metric tons, at $30 per metric ton this amounts to $51,210, which was also not paid by the company. They also owed government two years surface rental amounting to $37,700 and two years training and institution development amounting to $200,000.

He added that 27 containers were shipped in early 2017, but the bill of lading was not delivered to the department.

On the Sand quarrying licence which was issued to them on 7thJanuary 2016, he said the company did not pay the license fee of D10,000 and application fee of D5,000. Royalty on Sand excavation from 4th August to 31st November 2015 amounted to D2,973, 800. There is still a balance for the last payment on sand he said.

Mr. Jawo said in March 2016, they asked them to effect payment of royalty. On 4th November, 2016 he said they again wrote to them to effect payment of royalty and in January 2017, they wrote another letter reminding them of their royalty payment from 1st May to 31st December 2016. Mr. Jawo added that in 2017, they wrote to them for the company to give them an update of their export dealings and they responded that 63 containers were shipped. The first one he said was in December 2016 and 40 containers were shipped. The second one he added was done in January 2017 for 23 containers. Another 27 are at the port waiting for shipment, he said. Mr. Jawo told the commission that they have records of 63 containers. He said APAM was also operating without registration and there is penalty for that. If it is an individual, he said the penalty is 50,000 and company attracts 100,000.

In terms of training, he said the department did not benefit much from it and he was asked to present a list of those who benefitted from the training.

In March 2017, he said they wrote a letter to the minister responsible for mineral resources advising him that APAM have not been paying royalties and HMC did not pay a single dalasi. He added that they wrote to the Minister requesting for the termination of license and they got a response. The company’s license was terminated on 3rd May 2017, he said. They were also not submitting records of shipments, he added.

Continuing his testimony, he said they have made a series of calls and follow ups on APAM for them to pay but to no avail.

Recalling activities of Carnegie Minerals Company, Mr. Jawo said they issued license of operations to Gambia Africa Mining Company in 2005 which was operating until 15th January, 2008; that his department received a letter signed by Njogu L. Bah from the office of the President for them to write to the company to stop operation and explain fully what they are into.  He added that on that same day, his department wrote a letter to Carnergie Minerals Company who within two days replied to them. Narrating further, he said on the 12th February 2008, they received another directive from the office of the president to cancel the operations of the company.

On 12th April, the department received a letter of application for a mining license from GAMICO which was copied to the office of the former president. To that effect, he said government established a team which was tasked to look into their application. Mr. Jawo further explained that the new company came with their own model which they wanted to use but government rejected it and wanted them to use government’s own. He noted that the equipment belonging to Carnergie Minerals Company were later been used by GAMICO. He said according to Carnergie, by the time of their termination of operation, there were 35,000 Metric Tons waiting for shipment but they at the Geological Department did not verify whether that was the right figure or not. He said the stock was exported but they didn’t know where the proceeds went to. He stated that during negotiations between GAMICO and government, government side wanted them to mine in the same area where Carnergie was mining and use the same equipment. On 12thNovember 2008, he said his department received a letter from government threatening to revoke the license of GAMICO as they refused to fulfill certain obligations such as a program of mining operations, surface rental, and business registration. Further testifying before the commission Mr. Jawo said government requested GAMICO to do further concentration as they were only doing the primary one but the company instead proposed to government for them to pay 30 Dollars instead of the 20 Dollars per metric ton in order to cover up for that.

On the 15th September, 2014 he said they received directives from the former President’s office for GAMICO to fully handover the company to the Permanent Secretary, Office of the President, Ismaila Sanneh, which should be supervised by the then National Intelligent Agency. The mining site was visited by the Mr. Abdoulie Cham of Geological Department and the Director of NIA at the time after the directives were given. During the process of handing over, government indicated that the shares of GAMICO belonging to one Mohammed Bass be given to APAM and government. In April 2015, the license of GAMICO was terminated and handed over to APAM.

The Commission urged the Geological department to give a list of outstanding payments from APAM that were to be made.

See page for 11 further report on yesterday’s sitting of the commission.

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