By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Dominic Mendy, the former Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the main idea of getting Crude Oil from Nigeria, was to generate income and support the former Government of the AFPRC.
Mr. Mendy was summoned in connection to the lifting of Oil from the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the time he was Trade Minister. He said hence there was no additional budget support, the former president deemed it prudent to approach the former Nigerian President Sani Abacha for the provision of Crude Oil.
He however told the Commission that mechanisms were supposed to be put in place and that an agent should have been appointed for the dispensation of the fuel; but that the former president said he would discuss about that.
Prior to dwelling on the subject matter, he gave a synopsis of portfolios he held under the public service up to his dismissal in 1999.
According to him, it was for this reason, the former president issued him a Power of Attorney to the said country when Maba Jobe was the Gambia’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, at the time; that he signed the agreement between the two countries.
“I think I signed for about 200,000 metric tons of Crude Oil and when I came back, a committee was formed to see how the country would benefit from it,” he disclosed.
He further testified that the agreement he signed was not submitted to Cabinet at the time he was Minster and was not aware of any revenue generated after the lifting of the Crude Oil.
He explained that the former Government was supposed to put mechanism in place and to also appoint an agent for the dispensation of the fuel. He recollected that on the 22nd of July, 1999, his services were terminated and Mr. Foday Barry of the NIA then, went to his house and informed him that the former president wanted him to represent him in an arbitration in London, which he said he did not know about; that Mr. Barry told him that the matter was about Crude Oil; that he responded to him that he knew nothing about the matter, further stating that because the former president refused to discuss about the appointment of an agent.
The former Minister now consultant, explained to Commissioners that the main idea of having Crude Oil was to generate income and support the former Government of the AFPRC.
At this juncture, Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, asked him about the agreement but he responded that he was arrested and detained for five days by officers of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), whom he said conducted a search in his house and carried away some documents.
He however said he could not remember the person that headed the NIA team that conducted the search in his house; that the agreement was signed at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). “I cannot recall signing any Corporation agreement,” he expounded.
On whether he knew one Samuel Sarr, he responded in the affirmative; that Mr. Sarr used to have social relationship with many Government Officials but he did not know whether he worked for Government.
He finally testified that he did not know how Mr. Sarr got involved in the Crude Oil matter.
Earlier, the Managing Director and the Deputy of the Gambia Ports Authority Abdoulie Tambadou and Ousman Jobarteh, yesterday reappeared before the Commission with regard to the construction of a Hostel at the Regional Maritime University in Ghana, which the GPA also contributed to.
According to Mr. Jobarteh, in 2008, the Board of Governors of the Regional Maritime University in Ghana, produced a report on the University and opted for the construction of the hostel for students including Gambians.
He said the Board comprises of members from Anglophone countries within West Africa, and The Gambia pledged to support the funding; that the total cost for the project was $750,000 out of which the GPA contributed over $278,000, while the former Government of The Gambia, contributed over $100,000.
According to him, a letter was addressed to GPA from the office of the former president asking them to pay 40,000 Ghana Cedis as their contribution for the construction of the Hostel.
At this juncture, Mr. Tambadou made it clear to the Commission that he was not the MD at the time; that this matter was executed by the then MD of the Ports. Mr. Jobarteh also confirmed the payment of over $1.7 million, by the then Taiwanese Embassy for the maintenance of ferries.
Correspondences together with other relevant information and documents were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Sitting continues today.