By Mamadou Dem
Mrs. Njoba Sankareh Sarr, former Principal Currency Officer and Ousainou Corr, former Director of Finance, all former workers of the Central Bank of the Gambia; Lieutenant Colonel Momodou Lamin Mendy, former Operational Commander at State House and Second in Command (2IC) of the State Guard Battalion and Nuha Willaims Jammeh, former Commander of the Military Police, all testified yesterday before the Janneh Commission of enquiry, in respect of monetary transactions in Dollars and Euro, at the bankers bank.
Earlier, Mrs. Sarr told Commissioners that she lives in Wellingara, Kombo North and is a retired banker; that she has worked at the bank for 37 years. “I started work at the Central Bank in 1978 until my retirement in December, 2015. I and Mr. Koita were in charge of the vaults of the bank,” said the witness.
At that juncture, Commission Counsel Mrs. Amie Bensouda, showed her documents regarding transactions back in 2011, amounting to €1.5 Million. She confirmed effecting the payment of the amount after banking hours; that she acted on behalf of the treasurer who was sick at the time.
According to her, the transaction was done after banking hours, because their superiors authorized them to effect the payment and they were told that vouchers will be provided later. She said that was not the first time they effected payment after working hours. She admitted that it is correct that the said transactions were made on the 23rd and 30th of November 2011, respectively.
Next to testify was Ousainou Corr, former Director of Finance of the said Bank. The resident of Kololi said the sum of €1.5 Million was a transaction on the State Aircraft but did not know exactly when the transaction was conducted. He noted that they do effect payment after banking hours whenever they received instructions from the Office of the former President and the Accountant General, which he said was normal. He said Office of the former President demands money even after 6pm and they always attend to them. “All government accounts particularly that of the Office of the former President were collated and confirmed by the tax force,” he disclosed.
Mr. Corr informed Commissioners that in terms of the office of the former President, they effected payment after an instruction was approved by the governor. He said he has never conducted any payment without authority from the governor or deputy governor. “I signed the ledger to authenticate the payment. I minute the authorization to my juniors for them to take action,” he added. He confirmed in the affirmative to the Commission, when documents dealing with this transaction was shown to him.
Lieutenant Colonel Momodou Lamin Mendy living in Sanchba Sulay Jobe, testified that from July 1994 to 2016, he was stationed at State House as Operational Commander and was also second in Command of the State Guards Battalion
On the withdrawal of $100,000.00 when asked by the Commission Counsel, the senior military officer said he was instructed by General Sulayman Badjie to collect the money from the central bank and hand it over to him (General Badjie); that no third party was present at the time of handing over the money.
“I did not know whether the order was from Jammeh but I was instructed by General Badjie to collect the sum from the Central Bank. I cannot tell whether General Badje handed over the money to Jammeh or not,” Lt Col Mendy told the Commission.
Next to give evidence was former National Assembly Member of Foni Jarrol Constituency, Borry LS Colley. Mr. Colley told the Commission that he was an elected member of parliament but was expelled from the APRC Party and automatically lost his seat. “I was Member of Parliament from 2002-2014.”
He said he worked at State House as Deputy Chief of Protocol from 15th of June 2015, to July 2016; that he was later redeployed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as senior protocol officer but bounced back to state house in the same portfolio. Colley said he was onetime Deputy Ambassador to Guinea Bissau.
According to him, during his tenure at state house as deputy protocol officer, he assisted the former president with his activities and also made arrangements for visitors. “I have run errands for the former president,” he admitted.
At that juncture when shown documents containing transactions amounting to €100,000.00 from the Vision 2016 Account at the central bank, Colley said he was instructed by the former president to receive the money on his behalf, which he did; that he appended his signature after receiving the said sum. He revealed that he handed over the money to the former president.
According to him, the instructions he received were verbal and at the time of handing over the money, no third party was present. “Between me and God I gave him the money,” he emphasised.
Edward Mendy an agent of the State Intelligence Service attached to the Office of the former President, also confirmed to the commission that he was instructed by General Saul Badjie to receive the sum of $300,000.00 from the Central Bank, which he did; that he was not informed of the purpose of the money after handing over the cash to General Badjie.
The next military officer to appear before the Commission was Lieutenant Nuha Williams Jammeh. He testified that he was enrolled in the army in 2006 but he is currently pursuing a degree at the University of The Gambia.
Lt. Jammeh confirmed that he was instructed by General Badjie to collect the sums of $500,000.00, $600,000.00, D21,000,000.00, $1,000,000.00, $1,000,000.00,$250,000.00, $200,000.00, D21,000,000.00 and $500,000.00 respectively, from the Central Bank on different occasions and upon arrival at the bank, documentation will be done; that he will sign and the governor will approve the payment, adding he was escorted by the securities at the bank on certain occasion. He testified that he was acting based on the instructions he received from General Badjie and at that moment he couldn’t object to the instruction but from a legal point of view, he could have told the governor that he was instructed by General Badjie and not former President Jammeh.
“Whenever I receive money, I always make sure that it’s taken to General Badje’s office. I decided to use a vehicle to transport the money to General Badjie’s office at State House for safety reasons,” said the former Military Police Commander.
Commission Chairman: “How do you actually deliver the money to General Badjie?”
Witness: ‘‘I transport the bags of money to General Badjie’s office and he will count no matter how huge the amount was.’’
Commission Chairman: ‘‘Was there a counting machine in General Badjie’s office?’’
Witness: I have no idea but Badjie counted the sum of 21 million dalasi, using his hands.
More testimonies continue today.