The spokesman of new government Halifa Sallah, has debunked claims made by a member of the Transition government Lawyer Mai Fatty, who accuses dictator Yahya Jammeh of fleeing with over $11 million dollars. Mr. Sallah, who was speaking during a news conference today, said there is no factual evidence to that effect to substantiate Fatty’s wild allegations against the former Gambian leader, who is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea. Sallah said all financial institutions in The Gambia, including the Central Bank of the Gambia are functioning well, and that there is no such missing funds as claimed by Fatty, have been reported to the new government.

Mai Fatty, had earlier told newsmen in Dakar, the Senegalese capital that: “As we take over the new government, the Gambia is in financial distress. Within a period of two weeks alone, nearly D500 million dalasi was withdrawn from the Central Bank by the former president. That’s a lot of money,” Mr. Fatty told reporters in Dakar, during a press conference.”

“The coffers are virtually empty. It has been confirmed by the officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia that Jammeh left with over $11 million dollars,” he further claimed.

Reacting to Fatty’s allegations against the former Gambian tyrant Mr. Sallah said: “I have said to the international press that a government must work on the basis of its institutions and its institutional processes. Allegations of theft, etc cannot just be made by any member of an Executive. It is not the domain of the Executive. Allegations of anything that is a crime must be passed onto the Inspector General of police. And they are the competent authority that should conduct investigation of anything reported to them. And eventually proffer charges against the accused, who must also be presumed innocent until a trial takes place before we find him guilty of a crime. We are saying that this new government intends to be a civilized and democratic government, which would abide by its instruments and institutions in order to fight any injustice.”

Mr. Sallah was responding to a BBC reporter, who asked him to shed light on Fatty’s allegations that Jammeh has allegedly left with over $11 million dollars. Mr. Sallah emphatically denied such allegations coming from a fellow Transition Member. 

“So, I have told you, without any ambiguity that the Inspector General of police was asked to go to all the public enterprises; all public institutions to examine their current state. Well, what I am reporting to you, is that as far as the Central Bank of the Gambia is concerned; those who are in charge of it, have stated with clarity that not only the Central Bank is normal and functioning normally but all the banks in the country are functioning normally. If other people have allegations or whatever  has been done, I will advise them to hand it over to the Inspector General of police for investigation,” Mr. Salah posited.

When asked by the BBC reporter, as to whether Mai Fatty, was talking nonsense, Sallah, who never minces his words on the purported missing millions, challenged the reporter to take up the matter with Fatty, who made the allegations.

Mr. Sallah, repeatedly denied Mai Fatty’s claims that $11 million dollars have been stolen by Jammeh. He cautioned that officials associated with the new government should be mindful of making statements that might encroach into the territory of law enforcement (police). He said it is not the duty of any member of a cabinet to make such statements. He said such allegations should be passed to the Inspector General of police for investigations. Sallah also said all accused persons should be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law. 

Mr. Sallah said the Central Bank and the Treasury are functional. He said he is not aware of any missing millions as claimed by Mai Fatty. 

Note: The new government of president Adama Barrow, has been marred by mixed messages coming from different officials. Mr. Sallah is the official spokesman of the government, but occasionally Mai Fatty, would organize press briefings here and there. The lack of decorum within the new dispensation is troubling. There is too much auditioning coming from folks, who want to remain relevant during this historic moment. We need one spokesman at a time please! 

Today, Mr. Sallah, has publicly rejected Fatty’s unsubstantiated allegations against the former Gambian iron fist ruler. It’s Sallah’s opinion that issues relating to corruption, and financial crimes falls within the domain of law enforcement and not cabinet. Hope Mai Fatty gets Sallah’s message. Sallah said neither the police, nor the financial institutions in the country, including the Central Bank of the Gambia, could validate Fatty’s allegations. Mai, being a legal mind he ought to know better. 

Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai

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