By Kebba Mamburay
The Gambia Government will be forfeiting the assets and properties of former President Jammeh. The Minister of Justice, Mr Tambadou, has revealed at a press conference yesterday 12th June, that the president has approved the decision and the government has taken the following interim measures as part of its recovery efforts against former president Yahya Jammeh.
1. The immediate forfeiture to the state of all companies and their respective assets belonging to former President Jammeh upon the expiration on 17th June, 2019 of the freezing order act of the high court.
2. The immediate forfeiture to the state of all moveable and immoveable assets including developed and undeveloped landed properties, chattels, shares and other acquisitions by former President Yahya Jammeh upon the expiration on 17th June, 2019 of the freezing order of the high court.
3. The immediate forfeiture to the state of all moveable and immoveable assets including developed and undeveloped landed properties, chattels, shares and other acquisitions by Mr. Muhammed Bazzie a close associate of former president Jammeh.
4. The immediate forfeiture to the state of all monies and all frozen commercial bank accounts in The Gambia, upon the expiration on 17th June, 2019 of the freezing order of the high court.
Following the conclusion of the work of the commission of enquiry into the financial activities of public bodies, enterprises and offices as regards their dealings with former president of the republic of The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh, otherwise known as the Janneh Commission, its report was submitted to the President on the 29thMarch 2019. The Commission found among other things that the former president Yahya Jammeh either directly or through third parties embezzled over one billion dalasi, over three hundred million U.S dollars, almost thirty million Euros and over two million pound sterling.
The Minister said the Ministry of justice will continue to use the report in order to advise the president on the necessary actions to be taken, to implement other recommendations of the commission.
The Minister has added that President Adama Barrow has also approved the establishment of an inter-ministerial task force at both the technical and Ministerial levels comprising the Ministries of Finance, Justice, Regional Government and Lands, Tourism and Agriculture to handle all maters in relation to the said interim measures and to deal especially with third party interests arising from claims of properties acquired by former president Jammeh and taking into account the recommendations of the Commission.
The Minister further said that the proposed commission of enquiry into lands that were unlawfully confiscated, demolished or unlawfully acquired by Former President Jammeh, will no longer be necessary as the said task force will now handle all third party claims to property claimed against President Jammeh to the extent possible.
The Minister has asked those whose properties were acquired by former President Jammeh through a judicious sale by the sheriff of the high court, to contact the solicitor general or the attorney general between 24th and 28th of June, 2019.
All other persons with claims over any of the properties of former President Jammeh have also been advised to address their claims in writing to the ministry of justice by 28th June, 2019. In addition, they have been advised to desist from interfering with any of the properties forfeited to the state. He promised to publish these in the gazette as public notice.
The Minister also called on foreign or international entities, especially U.S and U.K. to help in their efforts to recover the stolen assets to return to the state.
On the TRRC
The Minister said he had yesterday filed a nolle prosequi, effectively terminating legal proceedings against Mrs. Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay and Mr. Yankuba Touray who were being prosecuted for various offences including conspiracy to interfere with a TRRC witness. ¨All charges against them in respect of these offences have now been dropped. ¨
He further said while he is not in a position to inform the public of his reasons for taking this decision, he hoped to do so later.
He urged all witnesses or potential witnesses to cooperate fully with the TRRC as it tries to establish the truth about our dark past and help us reconcile as a nation. He added: ¨Any attempt to undermine this national healing will bear a serious consequence.¨
On Security Sector Reforms
According to the Minister of justice, over the past two weeks, two drafting teams have been commissioned to draft two strategic documents for the security sector reform process. Some days ago, he said, the national security policy was launched under the chairpersonship of the President. The members of the drafting teams include representatives from three ministries: Ministries of Justice, Defence and the Interior; as well as representatives from the different security agencies and the ministry of women´s affairs. They will be drafting the national Security strategy to implement the National security policy and the security sector reform strategy to specifically address the findings and recommendations of the security sector reform assessment report, which was completed in December 2017. ¨They have up to three months to complete both drafts,¨ the Minister said.
In answer to a question, the Minister said the entire governance architecture of ‘new Gambia’ is based solidly on respect for the rule of law and compliance with court orders.