Abdoulai G. Dibba
The Former Permanent Secretary, Office of the President, Isatou Auber Faal, appeared before the Commission of Inquiry chaired by Senior Lawyer Suraha Semega Janneh. The Commission is probing into the assets and financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh.
In testifying before the Commission on Tuesday 22 August, Madam Auber-Faal informed the Commission that she is a civil servant working as the current secretary to cabinet.
She told the commission that before her current appointment, she was Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs from March 25 2011, and then promoted to Permanent Secretary Office of the President on the 14th of December 2012 but later dismissed around August 2016.
She informed the Commission that she started working with government in 1994 at the PMO (Personnel Management Office).
Isatou Auber-Faal told the Commission that as Permanent Secretary Office of the President, they do not have specific term of reference; that what they do basically is to minute issues to the former president and then convey directives as assigned.
She acknowledged being a signatory to various accounts as permanent secretary and one of them is the sand mining account.
At this stage, she was shown exhibit CD5 and she confirmed this by recognizing her signature. She also confirmed being a signatory of the Tax Recovery and Heavy Minerals Account (TRA and HMA), at the Guarantee Trust Bank and account.
Asked how she became a signatory to these accounts when she was not an accounting officer, she responded that it was the former president who decides who should be the signatory to what account.
She acknowledged that she has never objected to being a signatory.
Continuing with her testimony, former PS OP Auber-Faal, said she mostly signs cheques on the Special Security Account (SSA); that for all the other accounts, there were no cheques but written requests for payment to either the Central Bank or the other Commercial Banks.
She informed the Commission that as she was assigned as one of the signatories, if she minutes anything to the former president regarding payment and he approved it, the former president will demand for it to be paid from one of the accounts.
Otherwise, she said, if someone else minutes it and he ask for the payment and she is one of the signatories and available, she will sign the request for payment based on directives from the former president.
“In such instances, you decide where payment should be made because you need to find out which account has enough funds to effect the payment,” concluded Isatou Auber-Faal.