By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Musa Bittaye, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ayodele Bolaji, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, as well as Mr. Mousa Mousa, the Managing Direstor of TKMotors, yesterday appeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission, to explain a wide range of issues surrounding the former president’s financial activities.
According to Bolaji, the MD for Guarantee Trust Bank, the former president owned four accounts at the said bank, in Dalasi, Euro, Dollar and Pound Sterling respectively; that all accounts were opened in 2015; that the dalasi account was opened on the 7th February 2015 and closed on the 30th June 2017; that it was frozen and the last transaction was on the 23rd of January 2017; that the total deposit into the account was D5, 780,725 which he said was Jammeh’s salary account, further stating that his monthly salary was D170,000. He said the balance was D4, 207,889.63 further adding that there were two withdrawals.
According to him, there was a total deposit of $22,000 in 2015, and it was withdrawn on the 8th January, 2017; that the Euro account was opened on 8th January 2015 with a deposit of €15, 833.03 and the pound sterling account was opened in 2015 with a deposit of £12, 500.
At this juncture, the transfer information, statements of accounts on the dalasi, Dollar, Pound Sterling and Euro, were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
With regard the office of the former First Lady’s account, the witness revealed that there were four accounts opened on the 10th October, 2016 in Dalasi, Euro and Dollar respectively; that there was no Sterling account. On the dalasi account, he said the former First Lady Zainab Jammeh and Alagie Ousman Ceesay, were the signatories and the first transaction was done on the same day the account was opened whilst the last transaction was done on the 13th January 2017; that the total deposit into the account, was D126, 844.20.
He added that this account was classified as a Government account because it was opened based on the letter the bank received from the office of the First Lady and the balance in the account was D15. On the Dollar account, Bolaji stated that it was opened on the 10thOctober 2016 and the last transaction was done on the 13th January 2017; that there was a total deposit of $287,451 leaving a balance of $8,691; that all the payments were done in cash, deposited by Alagie Ousman Ceesay, the then Chief Protocol Officer at the office of the former president. He however disclosed that there were various transfers to the United States of America, France and Morocco and there were twenty-six transfers in three months.
On the Euro account, the banker testified that there was a deposit of €33,896.52 into the account and the first transaction was done on the 10th of January 2017, while the last transaction was done on the 13th January 2017; that there were five deposits made by Alagie Ousman Ceesay. Mr. Bolaji further disclosed that all the transfers were sent to the US to different payees and the balance left in the account was €0.31; that there was no pound sterling account.
At this juncture, the witness agreed with Counsel Bensouda that the accounts were used for the First Lady’s personal business. Documents relating to all these accounts were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
On Operation Save the Children Account, Mr. Bolaji said the account was both in Dalasi and Dollar and the signatories were the former First Lady and the former Vice President, Isatou Njie Saidy; that the accounts were opened on the 29th January 2016 and there was a letter from the office of the former First Lady, signed by Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie.
According to him, the first transaction was done on the 28th September 2016, whilst the last transaction was done on the 8th March 2017; that the account was frozen. He said the total deposit in this account was $506, 865,160 and the sum of $25,000 was transferred to Israel; that there were two cheques amounting to $68,250 and another $88,000 which were all transferred; that there was a balance of $597,165 and the sum of $4,190 was transferred to T.K Motors; that there was no transfer of dollars to hospitals.
On the dalasi account, Mr. Bolaji revealed that the sum of D21, 237,877.60 was deposited while the balance was D1, 494,261.58 and that the first transaction was done on the 16thFebruary 2016 whilst the last transaction was done on the 28th November 2017; that the sources of these funds were from donor agencies and the Republic of China on Taiwan, donated over $400,000 into the dollar account.
He disclosed that Jah Oil Company donated D1, 000,000 while NAWEC donated D400, 000; that the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Gambia International Airline (GIA) and Gambia Food Safety, all donated significant amounts to ‘Save the Children’ dalasi account, through the buying of dinner tables during gala dinners.
Mr. Mousa Mousa, Managing Director of T.K Motors, said that he has been the MD since 2004; that the company was incorporated by Tarik Mousa in 1997. He however craved the indulgence of the Commission to give him time to get prepared; that the proprietor of T.K Motors, Tarik Mousa, also owns T.K Exports and the shareholders of T.K Exports are the witnesses, Tarik Mousa and Mrs. Aisha Balla Gaye.
Next to testify was Mr. Edrisa Njie, the Managing Director of Gambia Engineering and Consultancy Services (GAMECS), who was summoned in connection with the construction of slipways for two ferries, Aljamdou and Kansala. Mr. Njie said in 2011, he conducted a consultancy for the construction of slipways for the said ferries; that he was aware that the ferries were not operational. According to him, their assignment was to design slipways for the ferries which was based on the information they had from Gallia Holding and GPA respectively; that he saw the ferries when they arrived in Banjul and they supervised the construction of the slipways; that prior to constructing the slipways, they made recommendation for the geological situation to be identified but later realized that the ferries could not dock and advised GPA for the landing site to be relocated which was done. He said while Aljamdou was on sea trial, the ram fell into the sea while Kansala was able to dock on the slipway constructed in Banjul. He however said they were later asked to vacate the place and soldiers were deployed to guard the place; that since then, he did not know what transpired.
Mr. Njie however said had it been there were dredges, Kansala could have continued to operate or ply on the slipways constructed; that he did not know why Aljamdu’s ram fell neither did he know why they were asked out, even though there was another project being carried out which he said requested their services in conducting a geological survey; that nobody was allowed to go and see the new project which was supervised by Global Trading, and that he had been in the field for 60 years. Mr. Njie finally testified that there was no adequate information available to them before the arrival of the ferries. Meanwhile, the GAMECS report prepared by the witness in relation to the construction of the slipways was tendered and admitted as exhibit.
Musa Bittaye, a Senior Legal Practitioner, also testified in connection with the recovery of $3,000,000 transferred by Captain Ebou Jallow. He recalled that he was appointed on the 15th of January 1996 as Attorney General and Minister of Justice and dismissed on the 23rdApril, 1996.
According to him, sometime in 1996, the then Chairman of the AFPRC, Yahya Jammeh, asked him on the phone to see him at State House and told him that Captain Ebou Jallow had transferred $3,000,000 and solicited his advice as to what to do; that he told the former president he had to go to Switzerland; but that prior to his travel to Geneva, he contacted the Gambian Consul to make arrangements for him to appear before a judge which he did; that when he appeared, the judge requested for evidence and he then contacted the Ministry of Defence and Central Bank, to provide him with some documents which he used to persuade the judge and subsequently Captain Jallow’s account in Switzerland was blocked.
According to him, because of the legal implications, he engaged a local Swiss lawyer to freeze Captain Jallow’s account but he was relieved of his duties when he returned; that those who took over from him could have proceeded with the matter in Switzerland and he could not remember the bank where Captain Jallow transferred the said sum.
Mr. Bittaye further testified that the money transferred by Captain Jallow belonged to the former government, and that to the best of his knowledge, Captain Jallow was given a Power of Attorney to open the account in Switzerland; that he was also given a Power of Attorney to represent the former government in the matter. He said he did not ask for the purpose of opening the account in Switzerland and Captain Jallow was not authorized to withdraw the money, as he never consulted his colleagues.
He said he never knew whether the money was retrieved, and that Captain Jallow was a member of AFPRC together with him, Yankuba Touray and Edward Singhateh.