By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Abdoulie Cham, Director at the Geology Department on15thFebruary 2018, before the ‘Janneh’ Commission. Mr Cham disclosed that their Department knew that the excavation being carried out at the said site would stop, because the former president was not paying the workers.
Mr. Cham was summoned in connection with the mining site at Badari village in the Upper Ruver Region that was recently visited by the Commission. The site is part of the activities of the former president was involved in. Cham testified that the said mining site came about when certain people told them at his department that they came with some samples; that this was in 2012; that he told them they could not depend on information but would visit the site, further stating that they had an appointment but they failed. He adduced that the current Government wrote to them to provide them with samples.
Mr. Cham told the Commission that they visited the site and they came back and prepared a report, noting that there was a sample given to the current Government but he did not know where it came from.
He further stated that they recommended for investors to come and invest. At this juncture, samples were shown to him but he said they were similar to the ones he had seen before; that they needed to be supported to test the samples.
He informed the Commission that he could not tell how much it would cost for the testing, further revealing that there was no due process at the Badari Mining Site.
Mr. Cham told the Commission that ‘Touray and Brothers’ told him that they wanted a permit to enter the site, and as a result, were issued with a permit; that soldiers were deployed at the site. He testified that they worked in partnership with individuals to do the testing of the stones.
However, it was put to him that the stones are gem stones used for jewelry, which he confirmed.
At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him whether the country had lost money on the said mining site and in response, he said it would be difficult to tell whether the country had lost money. According to Mr. Cham, one had to investigate the quality and value and whether the minerals were marketable; that they have the means to detect crystal stones. It was again put to him by Mrs. Bensouda that the former president spent many years to excavate stones at the Badari Mining Site. One Mr. Jawo, who assisted the witness, told the Commission that people thought they were precious stones and the former president sent some soldiers to take care of the site, who knew nothing about the said mining site.
Mr. Jawo added that they could not tell whether those who were mining at the site reached the stones, but that they had prepared their report on the matter.
At this juncture, documents relating to the mining site were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Continuing, Mr. Cham testified that they wanted the workers at the site to benefit and to be protected, but that there was this attitude of the former president; that the Geology Department wanted things to go strictly with their Act. He said it did not help when the former president was using his powers regarding the mining site; that they knew that the excavation would stop because the workers were not paid by the former president.
Mr. Cham posited that the former president was given a license but it did not mean that the mining site belonged to him; that they were not put in the picture regarding the excavation of stones at the said site.
At this juncture, a document was shown to him which he said was the application for the ‘Touray Brothers’ to be issued a license. But the Chairman of the Commission Sourahata Janneh, brought to his attention that on the reverse of the said document was written APAM and KGI.
In response, he stated that it was a mistake and that he handed the wrong document to the Commission and promised to produce the correct one.
Sittings continues on Monday, 19th of February 2018.