Saturday, February 22, 2020

PEGEP, Geology Directors Testify at Janneh Commission


By Kebba Jeffang

The executive director of President Empowerment Project for Girls’ Education (PEGEP) and the director of Department of Geology had both gave evidence at Janneh Commission stating the influence of the former President Yahya Jammeh in the financial dealings of their offices.

Dominic Peter Jammeh, former executive director of PEGEP said the project was established in 2004 by the former president who appointed him through directive as executive director in June 2011.

He said the project was stopped when the accounts were closed by the High Court. Because he had no Constitution while giving his testimony, he said he could not explain how the project was established. He said his office had no board but he was answerable to the Secretary General.

Jammeh informed the Commission chaired by Surahata Semega Janneh that he was also overseeing the Jammeh Foundation for Peace. However, he said the project had independent accounts with its main source of funding from the former president and Taiwan. He also said the project had no budget and that office of the former president had been the one approving all expenditures.

He further testified that he got paid from the treasury department, stating that they had D150,000 as subvention.

Jammeh adduced that no one was paid since the office was closed. He said the project was to address girls’ education and the office of the former president would determine who should go for overseas studies, and also those who would go to the university.

He recalled receiving three cheques from the Taiwanese embassy from 2011 to 2013. The cheques received in 2011 amounted to $7000, $28,000 in 2012 and again $7000 in 2013. He disclosed that they sponsored girls in their education until 2016.

Some documents relating to PEGEP were tendered and admitted as exhibit marking the end of his testimony.

Meanwhile, Abdoulie Cham who is the director of Geology department was also scrutinized by lawyer Victoria Andrews, counsel representing Muhammed Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi regarding his evidence he submitted earlier.

It was put to him by the Counsel that geology department was selling sand in 2011. Cham responded in the positive. He explained that there was a request sent by General Saul Badgie for Tony Ghatas to do sand mining. However, he said he Cham, was not present when there was collection of sand.  He said the letter allowing Mr. Ghatas was not from Gamico, a mining company.

Counsel Andrew had shown some receipts for him to go through. He then told the Commission that the receipts were not from his department and further stating they were drawn by the Ministry for Local Government and Lands from 2013 to 2015.

Bazzi’s lawyer requested to tender the said receipts but only to receive an objection from the lead prosecutor Amie Bensouda who contested that the said receipts did not emanate from the geology department.

Chairman Janneh thereafter rejected the request and asked the private counsel to tender the said documents through a proper witness.

“None of the receipts related to the department of Geology,” said Mr. Janneh.

She however, went on to tender some other documents relating to Geology department which were admitted as exhibits.

The Commission that was launched in 2017 on the pillars of finding the truth regarding the suspicious dubious financial and assets dealings by the former president and associates has already brought high profile personalities to testify on various issues. Hearing will continue on Monday.

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