By Mamadou Dem
Messers Abdoulie Tambadou and Momodou Jallow, Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority and former Managing Director of NAWEC respectively, yesterday reappeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission for cross-examination at the instance of Muhammed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi, by Counsel Victoria Andrews.
Jallow was asked whether they paid for Heavy Fuel Oil storage or HFO, and he answered that he was not aware; that he was the MD most of the time and Abdou Jobe and Sanyang were his predecessors.
According to him, at the beginning of the contract, there was no transmission and distribution director; that Nani Juwara was the Commercial Director while Sira Wally-Njie was the Human Resource Manager. He testified that the positions he mentioned were held by NAWEC staff.
It was put to him by Counsel Andrews that the taskforce overshadowed these positions. In response, Jallow said they used to work together with the taskforce; that he could not remember seeing the letter written by the taskforce for the increment of the electricity tariff, further stating that it was not his decision to increase the tariff.
He further testified that he could not remember reducing the tariff. At this juncture, he confirmed a letter given to him which he said he signed.
Counsel Andrews applied to tender the said letter, which was not objected to by Counsel Bensouda. It was therefore admitted in evidence.
The witness said NAWEC had a Board of Directors but could not remember whether the matter went to the board; that the letter was copied to the office of the former president. He testified that he signed all contracts as MD, noting that he did not make all decisions; that he took over from Abdou Jobe in August 2006, and they continued with their operations.
A letter dated May 17th 2006 and written by Abdou Jobe, was shown to him, and he said he could not remember seeing the said letter.
Jallow told Commissioners that they issued cheques to GTG for electricity supply;that he had to know the full circumstances as to whether NAWEC and GTG shared the debts owed by GTG. He disclosed that they had ongoing projects during his time, such as the Brikama Power Plant, Greater Banjul Area Electricity Supply and the Street Lights.
He narrated that the Rural Electrification Project was done by different contractors; that the said projects were all tendered and all the contracts went through due process; that the award of contract was based on the evaluation by NAWEC, noting that Dabananeh Company is owned by Alagie Conteh.
According to Jallow, he could recall Conteh being awarded some contracts; that all contracts went through due process, noting that Conteh never advised him neither was he given special treatment.
Dwelling on the Venuzela contract, he said it was for the transmission and distribution for the Greater Banjul Area, further stating that when he came back, the project was ongoing but stopped because he was removed.
Counsel Andrews put it to him that according to Abdou Jobe, they were relying on the goodwill of GTG for the supply of oil. Jallow responded that Jobe was entitled to his opinion.
A letter dated July 7th 2010, was given to him and he said he could not remember the said letter; that GTG was there as their partners; that he was not aware of the reason for terminating Conteh’s contract.
It was further put to him that Fadi Mazegi got involved in the invoices and he answered in the positive. It was again put to him that Muhamed Bazzi cajoled NAWEC to pay him what the Company owed him. He responded in the negative.
“I am putting it to you that Bazzi requested for the sum of $20,000 because the former president wanted to go to the Hajj,” said Counsel Andrews. In response, he told the Commission that the former president needed the money for the Hajj.
The former NAWEC boss explained that there was no need for Bazzi to put pressure on them to be paid, noting that anytime GTG got invoices for NAWEC to pay them, they were paid. He said the management contract was in place and that transactions were ongoing. He adduced that the taskforce could not pay themselves, noting that Bazzi would call them to pay the taskforce whenever they demanded cheques.
Jallow testified that they were told NAWEC should buy two sets of generators and SSHFC would provide the funds.
At this point, another document was given to him regarding the supply of the two generators contract which he signed. He confirmed that the generators were supplied.
On the Fajara Booster Station occupied by GTG, he said he could not remember the details of the contract but were told that they could build any structure they wanted; that this was why he did not sign the contract. The witness further adduced that GTG did some renovation on the structure at the Booster Station.
It was again put to him that a storage facility at the said place was rehabilitated, and he answered in the positive. He was shown a draft contract and upon perusal, he said the draft contract was ten years ago.
On Global Power System (GPS), Jallow told Commissioners that they supplied oil to NAWEC and that he knows the Company; that they had an arrangement with NAWEC to service their generators but he does not know the shareholders of the said Company.
Counsel Andrews put it to him that GPS took GTG to Court for not paying bills. It was further put to him that GEG and GTG had nothing to do with GPS. To all the points, Jallow responded that as far as he knows, they used to work together in the country.
According to him, GEG was controlling the power supply in the country; that he could not remember whether GTG bided for the contract for spare parts. “Could Gambians have afforded to do without the supply of HFO?” inquired Counsel Andrews. He answered that Gambians needed HFO, noting that in business, the economy is never stagnant.
At this juncture, he was asked whether NAWEC enjoyed unlimited supply of oil on credit, and he responded in the positive; that in 2006, two managing directors were eliminated and subsequently, his finance director was also eliminated; that it was correct he rented his property to Manhat in 2004 up to 2013-2014.
He however said he did not know Manhat was an employee of Bazzi, prior to renting him the place, further stating that he had problems with Bazzi when he felt that he could not do what he wanted from him without clearance.
Counsel Bensouda asked him to go through a letter and explain the circumstances surrounding the it but before the witness answered, Counsel Andrews objected to the question.
Consequently, Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh, said t the said letter was admitted through the witness, and the Commission did not see why a question from the Commission Counsel should not be allowed. He overruled the objection and allowed the witness to answer the said question.
Jallow then responded that following a meeting between PURA and the Ministry of Finance, they were trying to increase the tariff but they were asked by the authorities to reduce it, because they felt that what NAWEC was requesting was too high.
Next to testify was Abdoulie Tambedou, the Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA). Tambadou was asked what position he held between 2010 and 2013 respectively and he reiterated that from 2010-2011, he was Finance Director. He told the Commission that as far as he knows, GPA did not accede to give a land to Gambia Milling Corporation (GMC), for the flour mill project; that they were directed by the office of the former president to surrender the land to the said Company.
According to him, as Director of Finance then, he was part of the management to meet the Bazzi group; that during his tenure, it was not agreed for GPA to surrender the land to GMC; that a letter before him did not state that the land should be acceded to GMC. He however said the author of the letter, Ousman Jobarteh, and the Managing Director at the time, Momodou Lamin Gibba, are both around and they would be in a better position to explain the circumstances surrounding the land.
It was put to him by Counsel Andrews that the land surrendered to GMC was not valued at D18,000,000. In response, Tambedou revealed that the office of the former president in collaboration with the GPA, valued the said land when there was a push and pull over it.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Adesina Adebesin, was reminded by Counsel Bensouda that he was supposed to verify a summary prepared by him; that Mobicell Blue Ocean had Dollar, Euro and Dalasi accounts respectively.
He told the Commission that the debit on the Euro account was €6,001,939.33 while the credit was €6,002,279.10. He revealed that he had the debit and credit advices for all the accounts.
At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda applied for a stand down for 30 minutes for the witness to verify some documents and her application was granted.
Sittings continue today.