By Mamadou Dem
Dr. Njogu Bah, the erstwhile Secretary General in charge of former presidential affairs and former head of the civil service and Colonel Paul Atta Gomez of the Gambia Armed Forces, yesterday re-appeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission to answer to questions regarding the construction of a line house at the Farafenni Army Barracks, by the Army Engineering Company.
Prior to his testimony, Mr. Bah was given a document showing payment of 50% of the contract sum. It was then put to him that this was received before the signing of the contract. In response, Dr Bah said he had instructions that the contract should be given to the Army Engineering Company but was instead given to Value Engineering Company.
Barrister Anna Njie further put it to him that over $250,000 was received from the Taiwanese Embassy for the said contract, to which he confirmed receiving a cheque for the payment of the construction of the line house; that a cheque dated 6th December 2012, was signed on his behalf.
He was again asked why the Ministry of Works did not sign the contract. Dr Bah responded that he had a boss who instructed him to sign the said contract; that the Ministry of Works was involved when things were normal.
Counsel Anna Njie asked him whether all monies paid were kept in the office of the Secretary General but he responded that he could not remember when the money was in the office of the Secretary General. It was again put to him that over $250,000 from the Taiwanese Embassy for the construction of the line house was more than the cost of the contract, which was D3, 840,582.72. Mr. Bah responded that the Army Engineering Company was paid three times and that the office of the former president was responsible for the project.
At this juncture, another document was shown to him indicating payments for fertilizer, to which he responded that it was the former president, who was responsible.
Two documents were shown to him indicating payments of $800,000 and $600,000 respectively. The witness stated that the monies were for the rendering of services to the former Government by two Companies. He however could not recall whether the Companies had contracts with the former Government. Dr Bah informed Commissioners that the said Companies had training with the army. The documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Earlier testifying, Colonel Paul Atta Gomez of the Gambia Armed Forces, shed light on the construction of the same line house at Farfenni. He said he started work in the army in 1988 and was a private soldier who was later promoted to the rank of Cadet.
According to him, the construction of the line house started on the 6th of November 2012; that he was instructed by former CDS Ousman Badjie, together with the finance secretary; that they signed a contract and there was a design prepared by somebody else; that they were given a document and the bill of quantities amounting to of D3, 840,582.72. Colonel Gomez disclosed that this was the first project to do a contract with the former president. Counsel Njie asked whether it was normal for the Army Engineering Company to do a contract with the former Government, and he responded in the affirmative; that they worked directly with other Ministries but not with the Ministry of Works. He confirmed that the contract was signed by him, Dr Njogu Bah and the former CDS.
At this juncture, a contract dated 6th November 2012, between the State House and the Gambia Armed Forces, and a bill of quantities dated 30th October 2012, and signed by GAF, were tendered and admitted as exhibits, along with a sketch plan.
Col. Gomez revealed that he was asked to prepare a bill of quantities for a line house which he signed; that he went to the Director of Finance and 40% of the contract sum amounting to D1, 521,833.08, was paid by Dr Njogu Bah, to the Director of Finance at GAF, in cash.
Further testifying, he told Commissioners that they wrote a letter to the office of the former president when they completed the construction.
At this juncture, two letters dated 24th April 2013, and 30th of May 2013, respectively indicating the inspection of the construction of the line house and their handing over, were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
He was also asked whether it was usual to be receiving monies from the office of the former president and in response, Col. Gomez stated that they were part of the construction team; that if the CDS gave them instructions to do some construction, they would go by it.
A voucher dated 7th December 2012, indicating the payment of D1, 521,833.08 which represents 40% of the contract sum, was also admitted as exhibits.
Hearing continues today.