By Yusef Taylor and Edrissa Jallow
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Hon Dawda Jallow disclosed to Parliamentarians that over one billion dalasis has been recovered after selling about forty-four assets belonging to former President Yahya Jammeh. Although the Justice Minister reported that over one billion had been recovered he did not reveal what has happened to the recovered funds.
The Government of President Adama Barrow who took over from former President Yahya Jammeh in January 2017 launched an inquiry into the financial dealings of “former President Jammeh, his family members and close associates, his financial and business affairs, and the assets accumulated by them during his tenure in office”.
Our review of the Government White Paper on the Janneh Commission reveals that former President Jammeh wasted over one billion dalasis during his 22-year rule. In addition to the money wasted are the properties acquired by the former President which the Commission puts at over 200, both inside and outside the country.
Justice Minister Jallow was responding to a written question from the member for Foni Kansala, Hon Almami Gibba who requested for the Ministry of Justice to “provide this August Assembly with details of the sales of former President Yahya AJJ Jammeh’s Assets, including total sales, buyers, and price of each asset sold?”
Hon Gibba who wasn’t in the country for the question and answer session which took place on Wednesday 30th December 2022, directed that his question be asked by the member for Foni Jarrol, Hon Kebba Toumanding Sanneh.
In response, Justice Minister Jallow revealed that a total of one billion, one hundred and forty-eight million, nine hundred and ninety-seven thousand and nine hundred and eighty-five dalasi (D1,148,997,985) was recovered from the sales of about forty-four assets.
Among Jammeh’s assets sold includes land sales and derelict vehicles.
“Dividends received from the forfeited sales amount to one hundred and two million, seven hundred and sixty-eight thousand dalasi (D102,768, 000),” said Justice Minister Jallow.
However, our findings reveal that the Janneh Commission highlights that over 280 Jammeh Assets were discovered and over One Billion Dalasis were wasted by the former President during his 22-year rule.
Over 280 Jammeh Assets Discovered by Janneh Commission
Preliminary findings at the start of the investigations revealed that “former President Jammeh, during his tenure in office, had accumulated at least 131 known landed properties registered in his name or in companies and foundations in which he has shares or an interest; and that he operated at least 89 private bank accounts directly or through the aforesaid companies or foundations”.
However, at the end of the investigation, the Commission found that the number of assets was more and that “former President Jammeh — acquired 281 (two hundred and eighty-one) landed properties throughout the country. These include private residential and commercial properties, islands, forest parks, wildlife reserves and wetlands”.
Outside the country, the Commission also identified two properties, one in the United States and one in Morocco. The White Paper notes that the Commission was constrained to conduct investigations on properties outside the country and “concluded that the properties reviewed in the Report are by no means exhaustive as more properties were being reported to the Commission even as they were writing their Report, and that investigations into the properties of former President Jammeh should continue”.
Janneh Commission: Over One Billion Wasted
The assets owned by the former President were just one part of the investigation. The Janneh Commission reveals how the former President had access to funds from numerous Government institutions that “indicated that substantial funds were, either directly or indirectly withdrawn, paid out or expended on instructions or directives received from the Office of the President during the tenure in office of former
President Jammeh, sometimes for unknown purposes”.
The White Paper reveals that “at least D1,065,012,512 (one billion and sixty-five million, and twelve thousand Dalasis) — have been directly wasted, misappropriated or diverted by former President Jammeh”.
In addition to this, the Janneh Commission also notes that “at least D3,330,046.60 (three million, and three hundred and thirty thousand, and forty-six Dalasis) — mostly in cash, was improperly authorized and directly transferred for use by Zineb Jammeh from various accounts including the Operation Save the Children Foundation”.
MoJ Declines to Reveal Names
Adding more context to the assets sold, the Justice Minister clarified that it “should be noted that not all the properties sold belong to Jammeh as assets belonging to some of his [Jammeh] close associates were also forfeited”.
Taking everything into account, the Minister declined to disclose the names of persons who purchased Jammeh’s assets. Minister Jallow explained that the names were not revealed to protect the privacy of the individuals. However, Lawmakers demanded that the Justice Minister provides a copy of records of the assets sold.
A follow-up question from the member for Bakau, Hon Assan Touray requested for the Minister to provide information on the remaining assets of former President Jammeh. Justice Minister Jallow explained that the government is still “discovering more assets” and the number is still unknown. This indicates that the Government may be acting on the Commission’s recommendations to continue investigating the assets of former President Jammeh.