By Mamadou Dem
In the Crude Oil saga, the former Minister of Justice Mrs. Hawa Sisay- Sabally, yesterday reappeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission to explain circumstances surrounding the lifting of Crude Oil from the Federal Republic of Nigeria to The Gambia.
Mrs. Sabally was testifying in connection to an arbitration in England filed by Chantrial Commercial CSA, against the former Government, regarding the lifting of Crude Oil by the Gambia, from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to her, the said suit was filed against the former Government in 1998 at the time she was serving in the said portfolio; that they came to know about the case through a letter from the British High Commission in Banjul which was copied to the then Secretary General, Alieu Ngum.
At this juncture, she informed Commissioners that she prepared a folder for the Commission, showing correspondences regarding the Crude Oil case which was spearheaded by the Chantrial Commercial Company.
Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda at that point, applied to tender the folder produced by the witness which was upheld by the Commission. Documents such as writ of summons from the High Court in England and correspondence concerning the said suit, were admitted as evidence.
Mrs. Sabally further explained that when she received the letter from the Department of State for External Affairs, she got in touch with Mr. Ngum, and requested for him to make an arrangement for her to have an audience with the former president; that when she met the former president about the matter which was then before the High Court in England, the former president told her that he had no idea about the deal; that the former president told her to travel to the UK; that she insisted that she told him that things should not work like that because a Barrister should represent the former Government in Court.
On the outstanding balance for the Crude Oil, she responded that it was over $651,000; that she was misled by the former president regarding the Crude Oil but he later confessed and said to her that it was a support given to him by the former Nigerian President, Sanni Abarcha, for his (Jammeh’s) political career.
Commissioner Saine however told Mrs. Sabally that it was no more bilateral support but president to president support and the witness responded that it was confirmed that the Accountant General did not receive any proceeds from the Crude Oil.
It was further observed that in the second contract for the lifting of Crude Oil, it was signed on behalf of the former Government by one Abdoulie Sarr also known as Samuel Sarr, on the instructions of the former president while one Mr. David Ford, signed on behalf of the Company.
She further told the Commission that Mr. Sarr was an emissary of the former president who was issued with a Gambian diplomatic passport.
Mrs. Sisay-Sabally disclosed that the former president told her the Ministry of Trade confirmed to him the Crude Oil contracts between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and The Gambia and asked her to travel to England; that her trip to England, including per diem, was funded by State House as promised by the former president.
According to her, when she embarked on the trip, she met the former Government’s Attorney and upon her return, she attempted to meet the former president for the third time on the same matter, but to no avail; that on the 27th of July 1998, she wrote him a letter and insisted to see him on the 30th of the same month because the Lawyer wanted something to rely on; that when she met the former president this time, she explained to him that she should obtain an affidavit from Mr. Dominic Mendy, former Trade Minister. However, she said the former president asked her to do that but she insisted for something to be put in writing before she approaches Mr. Mendy.
According to her, when she left State House to her office, she was called to go back and upon arrival, the former president congratulated her for her efforts and told her that they were parting company and served her with a termination letter.
She explained to the Commission that she was succeeded by the current ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bom Bensouda, and the Crude Oil file was handed over to her.
Earlier, Mr. Karamo Jawara, Principal Banking Officer at the Central Bank of The Gambia, reappeared in connection to the Japanese grant accounts. He told the Commission that he had the list of summary and transaction of fifteen accounts which he said if added to the eleven that were presented, it would give a total of 25 accounts of Japanese grant; that the 2KR 2009 account had a balance of D5,589,000 and was opened on the 26th of May 2012, and the last transaction on this account was done on the 16th May, 2012. On the Japanese Grant 2KR 1999, he stated that the first transaction on this account was done on the 2nd of December 2002, while the last transaction was done on the 9th of November 2012.
Mr. Jawara adduced that the Japanese Grant 2KR 2000 account had a balance of D6,437,072.13 and that the last transaction on the account was done on the 18th of June 2004; that on the Japanese Food Aid 2007 account, the balance was D734,890 and the last transaction on the account was done on the 10th of December 2009.
On the Japanese Food Aid Sale of wheat flour account, he said there was a balance of D728,073 and the last transaction on the account was done on the 22nd of May 2012; that on the Japanese Food Aid KR 2010 account, there was a balance of D25, 992, 711.11 and the last transaction was done in December 2013.
Testifying further, he revealed that the Japanese Grant RSS account had zero balance and the last transaction was done in February 2000, whilst on the Japanese Grant RSS Dollar account, there was no balance found. He said there was no transaction on the Japanese Grant SG for Education Project account.
On the Japanese Non Grant Aid RYG, Jawara said the balance was D1,000,000 and the last transaction on the account was done on the 2nd of October 1999, whilst the KR 2004 Rice Food Aid account had a balance of D957,000 and the last transaction on it was done on the 10th of December 2009.
Jawara testified that there was another account called KR 2009 that had a balance of D71,520,625.63 and the last transaction done on this account was on the 17th of May 2012; that the Sale of Japanese Rice account had a balance of D44,753,200 and the last transaction on the account was done on the 8th of September, 2014.
According to Jawara, the Sale of Fertilizer 2KR 2007 account had a balance of D24, 235,532 and that the last transaction was done on the 19th October 2010
At this juncture, the 14 accounts in connection to the Japanese grants and other relevant documents, were tendered and admitted as evidence.
Hearing continues on Monday 7th May, 2018.