By Dawda Faye
Gam Petroleum Former Finance Manager Alhagie Jabang, during an appearance at the Janneh Commission has said that he told APRC militants that his office was not a political bureau.
He also recalled that that some former governors frequented his office as well.
Jabang was summoned in connection to donations made to the former president and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) respectively.
He told the commission that he worked for the said company from June 2015 to November 2015, as Finance Manager; saying he took over from the Finance Manager of Eagle Company, Mr. Wael Saade.
According to him, Euro Africa Group was managing the accounts of Gam Petroleum and he asked certain questions in order to acquaint himself with the finances of the institutions.
He stated that he asked them whether they had a budget among others, but they said they did not.
Jabang added that he then went to find out from Mr. Fadi Mazegi, because the initial plan was for him to work with the Euro Africa Finance Department for two weeks.
He revealed that instead of working with Euro Africa Group for two weeks, he decided to go to the Mandinary depot and started work straight.
He recalled that he used the 31st March 2015, closing balance, further adducing that a trial balance was submitted to the auditors and it was not long when the audit was opened.
At this juncture, he confirmed to the commission that he made a statement to the investigators, but could not sign it.
However, he was able to sign it when he was giving evidence. The statement dated 14th December, 2015, was shown to him, which he confirmed and was subsequently tendered and admitted in evidence.
The ex- Gam Petroleum Finance Manager said he was not specifically handed anything as inventory, noting that when he went through a list, he discovered that there was a plan and machinery, but this was a bit complex for him, as he could not identify some of the items listed. He, however, maintained that on the side of equipment, 75 computers were mentioned in the list, but he could not trace them after he tried to find out their whereabout.
Jabang further adduced that he was told that Mr. Manhat was in charge and had left the country, pointing out that they could not also see the barge mentioned in the list, a mooring boat and a tugboat.
He said he asked about tools amounting to D42, 000,000, but no one could tell him what the tools were.
On the dolphin accounting system, the witness revealed that this was the accounting system used by Euro Africa Group to manage Gam Petroleum.
“I was not given a standalone system to manage Gam Petroleum,” he said.
When put to him by Mrs. Bensouda that there was over D21,000,000 discrepancy, he said he agreed with Wael Saade. When told by counsel that he was supposed to sign reconciliation on the 19th of August 2017, he said he signed the reconciliation with Euro Africa Group.
According to him, while he was monitoring the account, he discovered that the sum of D15,000,000 was the difference and he called the attention of the General Manager and the board, but no decision was reached.
Jabang informed the commission that he told the General Manager that the situation needed to be addressed, saying this was not done till the appointment of a new board.
He acknowledged having several meetings with Eagle with regards to the D15,000,000, but they never complied and the General Manager of Eagle would refer him to Mr. Saade, who told him that if they go by the exchange rate, it would not be favorable to them.
He pointed out that the matter had been going on for long until there was a change, noting that he even suggested for a legal action to be instituted against Eagle.
Jabang recalled that on the 31st of March 2017, auditors came but the reconciliation between Gam Petroleum and Eagle was not done. This matter, according to him, was brought to the attention of the new board.
The witness further testified that he went to Eagle office to do the reconciliation and he mentioned the differences owed by Eagle, but they said they would not pay, based on the reconciliation.
At this juncture, Mr. Jabang reacted that he did not have the power to single-handedly waive the sum of D20, 000,000 owed by Eagle.
“I did not have the capacity to waive,” he reiterated. This, he went on, was why he even refused to review, and at the same time, authorize for payments.
On the donation to NIA and the former ruling party, APRC, the witness said he could recall that just before the 2016 elections, the General Manager of Gam Petroleum called him in his office and told him that the election was coming and that they should do something for the ‘big man’.
However, he said he asked the General Manager whether he spoke to the board about it, but he responded in the negative.
He testified that he told the General Manager that the money did not belong to them, pointing out that initially, the GM proposed for the sum of D10,000,000 to be given to the former president and his party, but he (Jabang) did not agree.
The GM then said he would make it D5,000,000 and when they went to the board, only one board member questioned the said sum, but the GM shifted and said that it was the Finance Manager (Jabang) who included it in the budget.
He stated that the board chairman-Mr. Edward Graham, then told him that whatever balance they had, they should pay it to the former president, but he told the chairman to give him an authorization.
According to him, they were told that they were going to the Office of the Vice President, but they ended up going to General Saul Badjie’s office, and they prepared a cheque in the name of APRC, but were later told by the then Director of NIA that it should be in cash.
He added that the former director of NIA, Yankuba Badjie, accompanied them to Saul Badjie’s office where they handed over the money.
The witness revealed that the General Manger was the interface between Gam Petroleum officials and Gen. Badjie, noting that he was instructed by the GM to give out the donations.
He stated that he informed the board that the GM should have a limit in giving out funds, adding that GM told him that whenever he authorized payments, he would not comply to do so.
He said he responded to the GM that if there were any discrepancies, Mr. Jabang, as Finance Officer, would be responsible.
He said when the matter was brought before the Board Chair, he told him that so long the GM approved, he should go ahead with the payments.
Mrs. Bensouda, at this juncture, reminded the witness that numerous donations were made to the APRC prior to the 2016 elections.
Under cross-examination by Counsel Victoria Andrews, it was put to him that Saihou Drammeh of Gam Petroleum confirmed before the commission that the boat was with Gam Petroleum.
In response, he told the commission that he enquired but no one told him where the boat was. It was again put to him that he refused a proper handing over with Eagle, and he said it was not correct. He adduced that he was the one following them to hand over, instead.
Jabang disclosed that he used to attend board meetings.
At this juncture, a document dated 20th June 2015, indicating board meetings, was read to him. He said that he wondered what records he failed to collect, noting further that as at 1st March 2015, he collected the financial reports.
Earlier, the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Jammeh Foundation for Peace (JFP), Sameena Azad, testified in connection to the JFP accounts. Prior to going into the details of the subject matter, she decided to put off the microphone because she did not want to reveal her UK address in public.
She added that she did not have a Gambian address.
The Commission Chairman, Sourahata Jannneh, told to her that they do not allow witnesses to talk without the microphone. However, he subsequently allowed her to write her address on a piece of paper and submitted it to the lead counsel, Amie Bensouda.
She told the commission that she became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JFP for a brief period, saying her purpose in the country was to help the Gambian people.
She revealed that she did not apply for the position accorded to her by the Office of the former president.
Her letter of appointment in 2014 was tendered and admitted in evidence.
According to her, in 2013, she brought in some investors in certain projects but could not recall how long she worked for JFP.
She explained that when she was deputy director, one Mr. Dominic Jammeh was the Executive Director, and finally confirmed to the commission that she ceased working for JFP in 2017.
At this juncture, the commission adjourned sittings sine die (indefinitely), as the chairman informed that notices would be issued as to when the commission would resume.