The new Government in Gambia today launched a commission of inquiry into the financial activities of public corporations, entities, the office of the President and other government institutions to determine the magnitude of mismanagement and corruption by the former government of Yahya Jammeh. The commission according to the justice department are necessitated due to preliminary reports of massive withdrawal, diversion and executive interference into the financial transactions, business dealings by the former President and his government. Mr. Jammeh prior to being forced into exile in January withdrew over $50 million from the Central bank over a period of time. He was later found to have over 89 bank accounts registered in different names and enterprises within the country. He also allegedly own over 131 personal properties majority of which are state owned properties including local government municipalities reserve lands. Jammeh was allegedly tapping into lucrative national development projects such as the Gateway Project, Gambia petroleum company and many others into his personal bank accounts.
The launching of the commission according to President Barrow is necessary to allow his government to get to the bottom of the facts of the level of government dealings with public and private enterprises. He said “The commission is mandated to look into the management of some Public Enterprises as well as the assets and financial transactions of the former President, Yahya Jammeh and some of his associates”. President Barrow added that the commission will not be used for witch hunting as it looks into the financial dealings of the former regime. He said the commission is necessary so facts can be determined and steps will be taken to address illegal acts and ensure that safeguards are put in place to prevent such re-occurrence in government. The President concluded that he “has full confidence that the Commission will, in its impartial deliberations shed light on the allegations against the former President and associates. The Commission is not established to witch hunt anybody but to investigate allegations of abuse of office, mismanagement of public funds, and willful violations of the Constitution,”
The members of the commission consist of Lawyer Surahata B.S Janneh, Abiosseh George and Bai Mass Saine. The three man commission will sit for an initial duration of three months with a mandate to extend should more time be needed. The commission is established under the powers vested on the President by section 200 of the 1997 Gambian constitution to establish bodies to look into financial misappropriations of government agencies and the office of the President. The commission appears to have the powers needed for it to issue subpoenas to citizens and corporations to appear before it. It will be assisted by a Secretary and a general counsel to be appointed by the Attorney General and Minister of justice.
Story compiled by Demba Baldeh