Mr Editor, I wonder whether Gambians really comprehend the meaning of Yahay Jammeh getting away with over $11 million from the Central Bank of the Gambia. The Central does not only keep money for the Government but it is also the banker to the other banks. All the banks in the Gambia are mandated by law to keep a reserve with the Central Bank. In addition, the Central Bank also holds the security deposit for Insurance Companies in the Gambia. Also, all Bureau de Change businesses are mandated by law to keep a security deposit with the Central Bank. So therefore, if Yahya Jammeh was said to have absconded with that amount of money, he did not only rob the Gambia government but businesses as well.
This same Yahya Jammeh lamented that he was a Pan Africanist. This same Yahya Jammeh told the whole world that he needed no aid money to run the Gambia. This same President at the time of going on exile withdrew all the money he could lay his hands and left the coffers empty. Now the task of rebuilding Yayha Jammeh’s ruins is left with an incoming administration that will find no money to work with. Gambians must understand that when Yahya Jammeh was coming to power in July 1994, he had no more than D50 in his bank account at Meridian Bank at the time Today, we are talking of a multi billionaire after 22 years of his despotic rule.
Going by media reports of the amount of properties he had including those he forcefully took from people, then he did more serious land grabbing than the former Ministers in the Jawara Administration. I remembered those days when I was the Stenographer at the Public Assets and Recoveries Commission, some of the former Ministers and other directors in the Jawara administration had just over 2 properties and they were lambasted as corrupt because the law at time clearly stated one man, one property. Today, Yahya Jammeh is the greatest property tycoon in the Gambia.
To add more injuries to other private citizens, at the demise of Abu Denton, Jammeh took over his property at Kanifing South and this was rented to the then Taiwanese Government. Also when Baba Jobe died, Jammeh took over his property in the heart of Soma and all the tenants including Trust Bank where paying rent to him. I was privy to this because the day Yahya Jammeh sent an NIA personnel to the bank to demand rent from us for that property; I had to go pull out that file so that Yahya Jammeh could be paid because that NIA would not leave without the money.
I have always known Yahya Jammeh to be a rogue and undisciplined person so I am not surprised that he was able to order the Central Bank to hand over that kind of money to him. When I was a court clerk at the Supreme Court of the Gambia so many years ago, he was asked to come and give evidence in a Diamond case he had investigated. This was before he became President. The man came to court with five of his men all of them armed. Jammeh was ordered to remove his gun before going into the witness stand and that his men should stay out of the court room. He blatantly refused to take any orders from the Magistrate and because of that, the case had to be adjourned.
Now this man ruled the Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years and caused so many atrocities and looted the resources of a country as poor as the Gambia and still had the effrontery to bring a cargo plane to take his exotic vehicles away. So what is left of the Gambia? Nothing absolutely and for that matter, the new government should take over his 300 or so properties and sell them to recover some of that money. As if that is enough, irrespective of him going to Equatorial Guinea as a safe heaven, we should go after him because taking money from state coffers constitutes a very serious crime and we can confidently say that he acquired all if not most of his properties illegally.
Written by Ebou Ngum – Everett Washington