By Mamadou Dem
Lawyer Mary Samba, Counsel for Amadou Samba, yesterday appealed to the ‘Janneh’ Commission to rescind the interim order to freeze his client’s assets saying the Commission has gone beyond its Constitutional mandate and has no authority to freeze the assets of Mr. Samba.
Moving her motion before the Commission yesterday, Lawyer Samba argued that the order which was published in local newspapers, has affected her client and was not also served on her client, despite being affected.
She argued that her client has enjoyed certain immunity as enshrined in the Constitution, noting that Mr. Samba, has no benefit of the doubt of the testimonies adduced by the witnesses who identified him as a close associate of former president Yahya Jammeh, and did not have the opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses.
Lawyer Samba further submitted that her client should be given the benefit of the doubt to hear from his own side while citing Section 24 of the Constitution, to strengthen her submission which she said, guarantees free and fair hearing.
Counsel Samba at that point referred the Commission to its terms and mandates as dictated by the Constitution saying the Commission has gone beyond its mandate; that what the Commission should have made was to recommend and not to make an order at this point and appealed to them to withdraw the interim order.
Responding to the application, Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda submitted that the interpretation of the order was misconstrued by counsel; that the powers of the Commission is clearly stipulated in the Constitution as the same power vested in the Judges of the High Court.
Counsel Bensouda submitted that the interim order made by the Commission is a threshold order which she said was not unconstitutional.
According to Counsel Bensouda, what the Commission needs to look at was whether enough material was placed before the Commission and not the issue of fair hearing as submitted by her learned friend.
Counsel Bensouda also referred the Commission to its terms of reference in order to give weight to her argument adding that any person that has appeared before the Commission is considered a witness and the witnesses called, have identified Mr. Samba as a close associate of former president Jammeh.
She further submitted that the Commission cannot be constrained by the order it has made against the witness who has appeared before the Commission and such order cannot be reversed.
According to Counsel Bensouda, the Commission has sufficient reasons to make the interim order arguing that there was no sufficient reason before the commission to set aside the order it has made.
After hearing from both parties, Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh said the Commission will rule on the matter on 30th October 2017 and ordered the witness Amadou Samba, to give his evidence.
Testifying before the Commission Mr. Samba said he came to know former president Jammeh in 1994 through Pierre Kujabi, a Senegalese; that when Jammeh went to Senegal, he happened to meet Mr. Kujabi who said he can make designs.
He recalled that when Mr. Kujabi visited Banjul, he called him to inform him that he had a good recommendation for him from his president and he recommended him as his partner in The Gambia.
According to Mr. Samba, the airport was designed by Mr. Kujabi and the Arch 22; that after the construction which included Bwiam hospital, he started business with Jammeh.
Mr. Samba testified that he built the Serrekunda Hospital and Supreme Court and none of his contracts went through tender.
The Gambian business tycoon told Commissioners that he owned 50% shares in Gacem Company but later sold some and remained with 20% shares; that since the building of the Company, shares kept changing; that he has 12% shares in Guaranty Trust Bank.
Mr. Samba a trained lawyer who introduced himself to the Commission as a businessman, further revealed that he owned Gamwater but that the Company is no longer in operation, due to heavy losses because the former president owed the Company lots of debts; and it was later sold.
On Gamveg Oil Company, he said that was a joint venture partnership where he has 50% shares and Muhammed Bazzi the other 50%.
When asked by Counsel Bensouda why the former president Jammeh paid the sum of $750,000.00 into the Gamveg account , Mr. Samba said he was not too sure because he did not know how Jammeh was involved in the business, saying Mr. Bazzi and Pa Bojang, negotiated for that and he has no idea.
The Gambian business mogul stressed that despite his shares in Gamveg Oil Company, he has never been involved in the management of the Company, neither was he involved in the financial transactions before the Company was closed.
A memorandum and article of association and transfer of shares and certificate of incorporation of the Company were at that point admitted as exhibits.
After reading a letter from the office of the then president addressed to the Managing Director of SSHFC regarding the $2,000,000.00, he said the letter was clear; that he was not involved in the said transaction of loan from SSHFC; that rather it was Messrs Bazzi and Bojang who were involved.
“I was a signatory to the Gamveg account but I have never signed any cheque and I was never involved in the management or financial transaction and I have never saw the bank statement, despite being the director of the Company. There was never a board meeting and I would not know whether the $750,000.00 loan was refunded or not because I was not involved in the transaction,” Mr Samba told the Commission.
Mr. Samba further told Commissioners that the people who were mentioned in the letter addressed to the SSHFC from the office of the then president, should be responsible for the loan since he was not involved in the negotiation and that was the reason he never bothered himself to check; but stressed that the Company should be responsible for the loan.
Mr. Samba said he frowned when he heard that Bazzi negotiated with the former president for him to take over Gamveg Oil Company and did not know any negotiation of the sale agreement.
Documents relating to Board Resolution as well as indemnity of the witness by Muhammed Bazzi, were admitted and marked accordingly as exhibits.
Mr. Samba is however expected to reappear before the Commission probably next week, to shed more light on other matters.
Meanwhile the Media was reliably informed that there will be no sitting today as the Commission will embark on a site visit to Kanilai. Thereafter, normal sittings shall continue next week Monday.