By Dawda Faye
Mr. Amadou Samba, a business tycoon earlier today testified before the Janneh Commission in relation to Gam Petroleum storage facility at Mandinary.
According to him, one Mr. Edi Njie was his consultant and they went to the land to test the soil; adding that there were series of survey reports because the area was swampy and the soil was not the same.
On whether he had a copy of the survey reports, he responded in the negative and added that it was a long time and therefore, he did not keep a copy.
At this juncture, he was given a letter from the office of the former president dated 24th November, 2004, indicating that the former government had approved the storage facility. Another letter from the permanent secretary, Ministry of Lands, dated 17th of June, 2004, conveyed approval as well.
On the allocation of the land, there was another letter granting approval of the allocation of the said land which was also referred to by the witness in connection to a storage facility at Mandinary.
He was further told by Counsel Bensouda that the evidence before the commission was that the villagers said they were compensated with D1, 000,000 as kola nut. Mr. Samba said he was delegated to go and speak to the villagers, noting that Eric Tundeh Janneh told the villagers about their intention to construct a storage facility. He told the commission that the villagers were receptive of the idea.
According to him, the villagers made a lot of request, such as the building of a road which he said cost over D400,000, and they were also asked to refurbish the mosque; adding that he talked to people who were conversant with land issues. He said he thought that the D1, 000,000 was reasonable. He adduced that after consultation with his partners, they decided to give the said amount to the villagers.
He said the sum of D500,000 was shared among the Ceesay family while the other D500,000 was taken to the village. However, Counsel Bensouda told him that among the things they promised to the community was the provision of good food, quality education and the refurbishment of their health centre.
He revealed that when they went to the land, they mentioned the refurbishment of the school but was not sure whether it was done.
Further answering a question by Mrs. Bensouda, he said Mr. Jarju was not present when they delivered the D1, 000,000, noting that it was Mr. Eric Tundeh Janneh, Edi Mass Jobe and himself who were present. When asked what Edi Mass Jobe was doing there, he said he only accompanied him. He adduced that the land was not a government property.
At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that he applied for the land on behalf of Gam Petroleum, which he confirmed. He told the commission that Fa Ceesay, the alkalo of Mandinary, was in the middle of everything. “I gave Fa Ceesay a lot of money, and you cannot satisfy him,” he stated.
However, Mr. Samba could not remember how much he gave to the said alkalo when asked about the amount of money he dished out to Mr. Ceesay.
At this juncture, he revealed that the total cost of Gam Petroleum project was $15,000 and in 2008, Gambian institutions namely SSHFC, GNPC and GPA were directed by the former president to buy shares on Gam Petroleum.
Mr. Samba, after looking at the statement of affairs, told the commission that he was never part of the transaction, and that he did not agree that Mr. Bazzi signed on behalf of Mr. Mazegi. He added that this was the first time he saw the document.
“Are you saying that it was not presented at a meeting or board resolution?” asked Mrs. Bensouda. He responded in the negative and added that he got the information from Mr. Bazzi that Gam Petroleum was valued at €35,000,000.
The witness was referred to a DT Associates report and he said he was the chairman at the time. On whether he had records to show whether the €35,000,000 was correct as the evaluation of the storage facility of Gam Petroleum, he said he thought that DT Associates were the accountants of Gam Petroleum; adding that he was not involved in the management of Gam Petroleum, and as a result, he could not produce any record about the said company.
“I cannot remember seeing the records on Gam Petroleum. Euro Africa has every right to do an evaluation,” said Mr. Samba.
At this juncture, Counsel Mary Samba, attorney for Mr. Samba, told the commission that they had brought the documents the commission had asked them to produce. The commission chairman, Sourahata Janneh, told her to submit them to Mrs. Bensouda for her perusal before admitting them in evidence, which was done.
The said documents were shown to the witness to go through, which he confirmed. With regard to his property at Standard Chartered House, he told the commission that there was no tenancy agreement between him and the former president regarding two offices and a store occupied by Kanilai Family Farms.
According to him, the former president never paid him anything for occupying the said property and after he left the country, he decided to issue a notice to evict the occupants.
At this juncture, bundle of tenancy agreement between Mr. Samba and various tenants at the Standard Chartered House among others were tendered and admitted in evidence.
The business tycoon also disclosed that the former president never paid rent to him while confirming that he collects the rent from his tenants. At this juncture, documents relating to Amasa Fishing Holding Company, drawings signed by Mr. Muhammed Bazzi and other documents were given to him to go through, which he did.
Reacting to Alagie Conteh’s testimony, he told the commission that Mr. Conteh had vested interest in the electricity sector and was one of the local representatives of mobile generators.
He finally testified that he consulted his solicitors to give him the documents for the winding of Amasa Fishing Holding Company, noting that they are still searching the said documents.
Hearing continues on Monday.