Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sirra Wally Ndow Banned from Holding Public Office for Life

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The Gambia Government said Friday it has accepted the recommendation by the Janneh Commission for Ms Sirra Wally Ndow to be banned from holding public office for the remainder of her life.

“Consequent from the Commission’s recommendation that measures be taken against her and that she should not serve in any public office again or be appointed as director for any State-Owned Enterprises, Mrs Sira Wally Ndow Njie is hereby banned from holding public office for the remainder of her life. She is also banned from holding any director positions in any State-Owned Enterprises in The Gambia for ten (10) years. Both bans are effective from the date of publication of this White Paper. The monies shall be recovered from the assets of former President Jammeh,” the government said in its White Paper.

Sirra Wally Ndow joined the public service commission as a Cadre Management Analyst at the National Investment Board. In 1996, she was appointed Deputy Managing Director at NAWEC until 2009. She was Minister of Energy from December 2009 to June 2009. Former President Jammeh also became Minister of Petroleum between 2012 and 2016, and Ms Sira Wally Ndow was appointed Deputy Minister from June 2015 to February 2016.

The Commission found, inter alia, that in April 2015, a Special Services Account was opened at Guaranty Trust Bank. Former President Jammeh and Ms Sira Wally Ndow were joint signatories to the account. The funds paid into the account were licensing bonuses, ie, penalties imposed for failure to meet deadlines in performance, training and contributions to the resourcing of the Ministry. The total depositsits into the account were  $3,884,655.19 and  total withdrawal was $ 3,856,484.

Former President Jammeh and Ms Sirra Wally Ndow co-signed the first withdrawal of $428,684 which she was told was for a contractor. Therefore, Ms Sirra Wally Ndow signing alone withdrew cash totalling $2,142,800.

The Commission found that the opening and operating of the account was illegal and that the account was opened for the purpose of availing former President Jammeh the funds as he wished without accountability. The Commission further found that Ms Sirra Wally Ndow enabled former President Jammeh steal cash from the said account. The Commission concluded that there was no reason to disbelieve Ms Sirra Wally Ndow when she said she handed the money to President Jammeh because it is inconceivable that he would authorize the withdrawal of the said sum and not make sure that he received it.

The Government accepts the findings of the Commission in so far as they relate to Ms Sirra Wally Ndow. Accordingly, the Government accepts the recommendation of the Commission that Ms Sirra Wally Ndow is jointly liable with former President Jammeh for the joint withdrawals from the account.

The Government however rejects the Commission’s finding that Ms Sirra Wally Ndow bears personal liability for the rest of the funds, ie, the monies she unilaterally withdrew in light of the Commission’s own findings that “ that there was no reason to disbelief Ms Sirra Wally Ndow when she said she handed the money to former President Jammeh because it is inconceivable that he would authorise the withdrawal of the said sum and not make sure that he received it”.

Consequently, the Government has decided that former President Jammeh is jointly and severally liable for the sums unilaterally withdrawn from the account by Ms Sirra Wally Ndow.

The Commission noted Ms Sirra Wally Ndow’s admission that Ministers are not allowed to be signatories to accounts, and that the said account should have been opened at the Central Bank. The Government concludes that Ms Sira Wally Ndow acted irresponsibly as a Minister when she became joint signatory of the account with former President Jammeh. This is made worse by her admission that she knew that her actions were wrong at the time.

Based on the findings of the Commission, the Government went on to ban her from holding public office for the remainder of her life.

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