By Dawda Faye
Former Secretary-General and head of Civil Service, Momodou Sabally, during a cross-examination earlier today, disclosed to the Janneh Commission that the former president, Yahya Jammeh, approved legal opinion coming from the office of the Attorney-General.
Victoria Andrews, attorney for Muhammad Bazzi and Fadi Mazegi, continued her cross-examination with the said witness.
Mr. Sabally reiterated that he was secretary general from June 2013, to June, 2014. Counsel Andrews put it to him that public servants presumed the former president had interest in businesses in The Gambia. He responded in the positive. Again, Counsel Andrews put it to him that most investors who invested millions of dollars went into the office of the former president. He answered in the positive.
“Are you aware of any legal opinion from the attorney general for the approval of the president?” she asked. “Yes, I am aware,” said Sabally. Mr. Sabally was further asked whether the former president hid what he owns from people around him, and he responded in the positive. He told the commission that if the former president gives you instruction, it is between you and him.
According to him, the former president used people like Saul Badjie as shareholders in his business, further noting that the former president was not a loyal friend and he would prosecute people if he wished.
Mr. Sabally told the commission that the former president encouraged investment in The Gambia, both local and foreign, further stating that he (Jammeh) was particularly interested in energy, agriculture and manufacturing.
It was again put to him by Counsel Andrews that the office of the former president was highly involved in correspondences dealing with investors, and he replied in the positive. It was also put to him that investments of the former president included storage facility and farming, and he responded in the positive.
The former sectary general testified that he was aware that the former president built a hotel. At this juncture, Counsel Andrews put it to him that business interest of the former president competed with businessmen in The Gambia. He answered in the affirmative; adding that he agreed that the former president micromanaged the departments.
It was put to him that the office of the former president had visitors, both local and foreign, and he responded in the positive. “Projects had to go to the office of the former president for approval,” Counsel Andrews told him. In response, he said some of the projects did not go to the office of the former president for approval.
Mr. Sabally adduced that everybody who was coming to The Gambia felt that power was vested on the former president, and this was why they went to him to seek his blessing. He added that the former president would approve the prosecution of cases and would tell the attorney general to do what he wanted. He testified that the former president interfered in issues relating to NAWEC.
Earlier testifying, was Mr. Adesina Adebesin, managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank, who was summoned in connection to a transaction which was done on the June 26, 2015. He revealed to the commission that a transfer of $3,642,000 was made to T.K Exports in Dubai, noting that he had the instruction and the bank statement. He further said that the instruction was given by Mobicel.
According to him, Babucarr Jabai and Aminata Sanyang were the signatories, and that Mr. Balla Jassey remained the only signatory to all the accounts. He adduced that the transaction was signed by Balla Jassey.
Isatou Jawara, an official of the said bank, who sat side-by-side with Mr. Adebesin, informed the commission that the source of funds in the bank statement was inflows from SESAM Informetic, MGI telecoms and Gamtel as well.
She testified that the balance was $3.8 million and the transfer was to the tune of $3,693,296.45. She disclosed that the statement covered from 24th of December, 2011, to February, 2018.
According to her, the dalasi account was opened on the 21st of December,2011 as well as the Dollar account, further revealing that the Pound Sterling account was opened on the 3rd of January, 2012, while the Euro account was opened on the 6th of December, 2014.
The witness further disclosed that she was not present when the accounts were opened, adding that she does not know Sanna Jarju, former protocol at the office of the former president.
“Are you not concerned that you were parting with such an amount of money?” Commissioner Saine asked the witness. In response, she said she was concerned.
At this juncture, documents relating to the transactions were tendered and admitted in evidence.
Amadou Samba, under re-examination by Counsel Amie Bensouda, testified that he had no connection with Global Trading Group. “I have no vested interest in Global Trading Group,” he told the commission.
According to him, Muhammed Bazzi was using his office at Gam Water; adding that as a friend of Mr. Bazzi, he would not refuse to sign for Mr. Bazzi as a witness in one of the contracts awarded to him by NAWEC, hence there was no implication.
At this juncture, Mrs. Bensouda told him that the first agreement was signed in 2001 while the second one was in 2002, and further told him that from a minute of a meeting, it was stated therein that he represented GTG in the meeting together with Mr. Bazzi but Samba said that was a misrepresentation.
He said even by looking at the minutes of the meeting, counsel would realise that he did not contribute in the discussion; adding that he only accompanied Mr. Bazzi in that meeting.
Mrs. Bensouda then reminded him that in 2002, he witnessed the signing of the Heavy Fuel Oil contract agreement, and he responded in the affirmative and added that he was still accompanying Mr. Bazzi, because he was a stranger in the country.
On Global Electrical Group shares, he was told by Counsel Bensouda that Mr. Bazzi owns 99% shares while he (Samba) owns 1% which he confirmed.