By Dawda Faye
Marie Saine-Firdaus, former attorney general and minister of Justice, and current African Union Legal Adviser, today appeared before the Janneh Commission in connection to Carnegie Mining Company.
During her testimony, she told the commission that she is working with African Union as a Senior Legal Adviser responsible for human rights abuses; adding that she worked in the public service in May 2000, at the Attorney General Chambers.
She recollected that she was appointed attorney general and minister of Justice.
At this juncture, Mrs. Bensouda reminded her that Carnegie Mining Company took an arbitrary action against the former government. She said when she became the attorney general and minister of Justice, the company was operating.
She testified that she was summoned at the Attorney General Chambers and was informed that there was a directive to advise the former president whether the company had acquired a license but they realised that there were procedures to grant a license.
According to her, Carnegie Company was written to as to what they were going to mine as well as the quantity; adding that Carnegie Company replied and there was a delegation that went to U.K. for a meeting and she was part of the delegation together with former Secretary General Ousman Jammeh, who gave an update.
She said after the meeting, Carnegie Company said they were going to comply; adding that the former Secretary General, OusmanJammeh, had a meeting with the former president along with Mr. Bazzi who came with other investors at the meeting.
She added that it was after a meeting that the license of Carnegie Company was terminated at the level of the office of the former president, as she was informed. She testified that the former president told her that Carnegie Company should be taken to court but she responded to him that they should not sue the company but rather investigate.
She said they could not have access to the site and the DPP advised them that they could file a suit against the company, noting that the security were sent to the site to secure the place and the Managing Director of Carnegie Company was arrested and he later jumped bail.
The former justice minister revealed that they took an inventory at the site and that she was not sure about what was left at the site but was informed that some stockpiles were left but she did not know how many they were.
Further testifying, she told the commission that after the termination of Carnegie’s license, there was arbitration against the government; adding that when the processes were received they went through them and advised the former president as a taskforce.
She disclosed that they made a recommendation to the former president but they never received a reply from him, and that the former president said that she was not with him, noting that the former president was not happy with her and was instructed to work with two gentlemen who came from Paris.
Mrs. Firdaus revealed that she was able to get someone who was knowledgeable in geology and gave his opinion on the technical side. She said she was removed from her post.
She further explained to the commission that she did not know Bazzi’s role at the meeting held at the office of the former president and that Bazzi did not say anything at the meeting, further stating that they felt it prudent to settle the case out of court.
According to her, Carnegie Company was out of stock and the CEO left; adding that the company ceased operations. However, she said Bazzi told her to go through the contract because the investors were to start operation
She said one Prof. Strasser was the independent adviser to the government, and that the pressure was coming from the office of the former president because the former president felt that the process was too slow.
At this juncture, she was shown a copy of her statement which she confirmed. She stated that after they submitted the report, she was snubbed by the former president and that she felt that the former president did not have confidence in her.
She finally testified that the reason for the termination of Carnegie Mining license may be that the former government was surcharged.
Momodou B. Jallow, former managing director of NAWEC, reappeared in connection to Fajara Booster Station which he said was renovated by Bazzi and his people, who told him that he was going to store some equipment for the former president’s Royal Apartments project which he wanted to build near Palma Rima Hotel but NAWEC did not sign any contract concerning the renovation.
According to him, he wanted to relocate NAWEC technicians from Half Die to the Booster Station because the building at Half Die was dilapidated and the sewage was not in order.
Prior to these testimonies, he was told by Mrs. Bensouda that he was summoned to shed light on Fadia Mazegi’s testimony on the Booster Station among others.
Reacting to Mr. Mazegi’s testimony, he told the commission that Magezi’s testimony was not true because the management contract gave them (taskforce) absolute power over NAWEC.
According to Mr. Jallow, when Muhammed Bazzi approached him for the Booster Station, he (Jallow) decided to call the Chief of Protocol, Alagie Ousman Ceesay, who later confirmed to him that the former president was aware of Bazzi’s intention.
Mr. Jallow testified that one Nabil Bazzi also told him that they wanted to have the place and that they renovated it, noting that he was not expected to sign the contract because it was a minor renovation. He said he was then relieved of his post prior to concluding the renovation.
However, it was put to him that Mazegi had told the commission that the taskforce was not in charge of the management of NAWEC. In response, he said that Mazegi was adding insult to injury after all what had happened to NAWEC. He added that he could not understand why Mazegi should say that, and that he should withdraw that statement.
According to him, Bazzi and his group were in charge of NAWEC, and that when it comes to NAWEC, it was Bazzi and the former president. He disclosed that Bazzi was working with a brutal dictator, and that when Bazzi was around, he would receive invoices. He said Bazzi was aggressive and that they were trying to salvage the company and to keep it going.
The former NAWEC boss adduced that Nabil Bazzi was the logistic and procurement officer and they were paying the taskforce €50,000 per month, stating that they were operating in terror. He said Nabil Bazzi was engaged in projects, and that he would be with NAWEC and would also work with GTG.
Mr. Jallow testified that NAWEC used road tankers before they had storage tankers, noting that they used to pay $10,800 per day for the storage tankers; adding that a French guy in the taskforce was in charge of finance at NAWEC.
With regard to the Standard Chartered House meetings organised by Muhammed Bazzi, he recollected that in one of the meetings, he had a problem with Mr. Bazzi when he raised the issue of the SSHFC generators.
He finally told the commission that everybody was scared of the former president.