By Mamadou Dem
Gambian Business Mogul Amadou Samba while continuing his testimony before the ‘Janneh’ Commission yesterday, disclosed that he only acted as a ‘‘middle man’’ for ex-president Jammeh, in the acquisitions of his properties among others.
He said his role to the former president cannot be described as representation for the former president, whom he described as a Dictator, Mad and Greedy person who spent money like “no one’s business”.
Reacting to allegations meted against him by Lang Conteh, former Foreign Exchange Manager at the Central Bank of the Gambia, Samba vehemently denied at any point in time having a conversation at State House with the former president together with Lang Conteh and Baba Jobe respectively, in connection to Kairaba Beach Hotel. He described Mr. Conteh as a ‘pathological liar’ and his testimony that the management of Kairaba Beach Hotel was transferred to him, was totally incorrect; that Mr. Conteh can’t show anything to the Commission justifying his allegations except if he fabricates a letter and submit it.
“I have nothing to do with Lang Conteh and Baba Jobe and there was no occasion where I sat with Lang Conteh, Baba Jobe and the ex-President, to discuss the issue of Kairaba Hotel. Mr. Baba Jobe appointed me as Chairman which was even symbolic and I have nothing to do with Kairaba except when Mr. Robert Aswandi contacted me on the sale of the hotel,” he said.
Further reacting, Mr. Samba testified that the only encounter he had with Lang Conteh was when he (Conteh), contacted him for the acquisition of Sun Beach Hotel; that he called him to say that he was going to offer $3,000,000 but that he just laughed because he knew Mr. Conteh was going to take that money from CBG, since he was at the nerve centre of the bank and even overshadowing the governor at the time. “I have never dealt with Lang Conteh when he was foreign exchange Manager,” he added.
Samba further said he has never represented the former president in the acquisition of his properties; that rather he only acted as a middle man and negotiated prices for him; that these were his roles and not otherwise as indicated by Pa Harry Jammeh; that he has no vested interest in Jammeh’s properties.
Samba however informed Commissioners that he introduced the late Baba Jobe to Peter Smith and that could be the reason of Baba appointing him as Chairman of the Hotel. “From the beginning, I knew that everything about the hotel was meant for ex-President Jammeh because after all, Baba Jobe was working for Yahya Jammeh and at the time Baba appointed me, he was the ‘de facto’ operator.”
Mr. Samba testified that it was based on suspicion that Baba took the sum of $2,000,000 from CBG, to complete the payments for the purchase of Kairaba and considering his relationship with him, he couldn’t reject his appointment as Chairman of the Hotel.
“I won’t agree with Mr. Pa Harry Jammeh’s allegation on the acquisition of the former president’s properties because my only role was to negotiate prices for him and Jammeh will always counter offer and asked me to send those selling their properties to his lawyer and the money for the purchase is usually delivered to his solicitor,” Samba expounded. He said among the solicitors of the former president were Ida Drammeh and Salieu Taal
Testifying further, the witness disclosed that the former president contacted him to negotiate for the Mahoney Estate. “I have never attended and would never attend auction sales. I was just acting like a middle man for the ex-president and I would not call that a representation for the former president.”
He said he voluntarily submitted 47 properties acquired by the former president to the investigators in the name of Kanilai Family Farm (KFF) and KGI which were admitted and marked as exhibits. However, Mr. Samba said he wouldn’t know the source of funds for the acquisition of these properties but he at times pays in cash.
At that point, Commissioner Saine puts it to him that since Jammeh borrows money from him occasionally, this shows that Jammeh cannot acquire those properties on his own. Mr. Samba responded that Jammeh spent money like no one’s business; that he never received rental fees on behalf of the former president.
On the issue of loans taken from Social Security for the acquisition of a Water Tank for KFF amounting to D6, 4032,700, he confirmed receiving the said sum after he took a quotation on behalf of the President for the purchase of a 1000 cubic metre tank which, he said was installed in Kanilai Village.
Responding to Commissioner George on whether he wasn’t concerned that money was being taken from SSHFC, he responded in the negative; that there were consequences if one attempts to refuse Jammeh’s proposals.
At that juncture Commission Counsel Bensouda applied to tender documents relating to the shipment of the water tank as exhibit. Mr. Samba couldn’t explain clearly to the Commission how monies relating to the Tank were paid but he said after the engineers received the full payments, the tank was delivered.
On Mariam Yahya Jammeh Trust, the witness said he came to know about it through one Muhammed, who got married to the former First Lady’s cousin.
Highlighting on some of his achievements, Mr. Samba outlined that when he ventured into cement business, he helped to bring the price down and also invited lots of investors in the country and provided employment to many Gambians as well. He however accused the former president as a dictator and greedy person. “I was suffering in silence,” he told the Commission.
On why he allowed the former president to use his properties without paying him rent, he said he accepted it out of fear while recollecting that when he wrote a letter to Jammeh telling him to step down, he sent the then Director of the NIA to go after him but they couldn’t find him.
He finally disclosed that he owns Standard Chartered House at Traffic Light and acknowledged that he was involved in some of the properties purchased by the former president. Meanwhile, Mr. Sheriff Sawaneh, Contractor and Proprietor of Competent Company, reappeared with a bunch of documents which were admitted as exhibits.
Hearing continues on Monday 20th of November, 2017.