By Mamadou Dem
The ‘Janneh Commission’ last Thursday embarked on a site visit to the former President’s residence in Kanilai, to inspect his assets such as his cattle ranch, safari lodge, warehouse, wildlife, crocodile and fish ponds, completed and incomplete presidential buildings and furniture amongst others.
The inspection by Commissioners at the former President’s village, is part of their mandate of inquiring into the assets and financial dealings of Yahya Jammeh and his close associates.
The delegation headed by the Chairman of the Commission Sourahata Janneh, was received by officials of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF). The first place visited was the cattle ranch situated at the far east of the former president’s residence. There is a road that connects the main entrance of the residence to the cattle ranch, which was all fenced with electrical installations.
At the cattle ranch, the herdsman who is a member of GAF, explained to Commissioners that the cattle are of Brazilian and Malian breeds and the former president fed them with animal feed; that now they graze outside.
Major Lamin D Sanyang of GAF who is entrusted to take care of the frozen assets in Kanilai, disclosed to the delegation that at the last head counting, there were 639 cows, but was quick to add that the number has increased because some have delivered.
Dwelling on the mode of living of wildlife such as hyenas, Major Sanyang explained that when some of the cattle die, they provide them the carcass for them to feed on; that without this, they are isolated. He also explained how they provide feed to the crocodiles.
A depreciating fish pond embedded with crocodiles was also inspected and according to the GAF official, the joint-crocodile fish pond, used to generate water through an electrical system which in turn supplies water to the women’s garden; that the system has now been condemned and replaced with cash power. He said the pond is gradually drying up due to the disconnection and inconsistent supply of water; that this has also affected the gardeners.
According to the GAF official, there were 97 Caterpillars that are both road and un-roadworthy; that there were plans by the former president to construct a water factory but it never materialized. Farm implements such as showing machines, tires, cars, plumbing and electrical materials were also seen in containers and in warehouses respectively.
Fanciful buildings and luxury furniture were inspected at the former president’s residence and it was observed that termites have already made up their way in some of the furniture. This prompted Commission Counsel to urge Major Sanyang and team, for people to be contracted to upkeep the place. Sanyang responded that once he gets the authority and recommendation, this will be done with immediate effect to avoid the place from ruin.
Alieu Jallow, Registrar General at the Ministry of Justice who escorted the delegation of Commissioners to various places within the villa including the private residence of the former president, stated that it was the place where the former president used for relaxation.
Apart from the residences of the former president, unfinished buildings were also visited and it was observed that there was a bunker built by the former president. On the other side of the building, were bags of rotten groundnuts. Upon visiting the Sindola Safari lodge, members were shown another fish pond of cat fish only, covered with water lilies. Other areas within the lodge have been well taken care of as the Bahama grass and the flowers caught the eyes of the delegation.
From the lodge, the delegation drove to an estate now used as a Military Camp for the ECOMIG Soldiers, situated on the outskirts of the village.
Upon arrival, the Commission wanted to inspect the buildings and materials left by the former president. However the Commanding Officer at the Camp, Commander Gaye intimated that he did not receive instructions from his superiors in Fajara and therefore could not allow the Commissioners to carry out their job as expected.