PRESS BRIEFING JUNE 2019 Janneh Commission
Following the conclusion of the work of the Commission of Inquiry into the financial activities of public bodies, enterprises and offices as regards their dealings with former President Yahya Jammeh (otherwise known as the Janneh Commission), and in its Report submitted to His Excellency, the President, on 29 March 2019, the Janneh Commission found, inter alia, that former President Yahya Jammeh, either directly or through 3rd parties, embezzled over one Billion Dalasis, over three hundred million US Dollars, almost thirty million Euros and over two millions pounds sterling.
While the Ministry of Justice continues to review the said Report in order to advise the President on the necessary actions to be taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission, the President has approved, and the Government has taken, the following interim measures as part of its recovery efforts against former President Jammeh:
The immediate forfeiture to the State of all companies and their respective assets belonging to former President Jammeh, upon the expiration, on 17 June 2019, of the freezing order of the High Court;
The immediate forfeiture to the State of all movable and immovable assets including developed and undeveloped landed properties, chattels, shares, and other acquisitions by former President Yahya Jammeh upon the expiration, on 17 June 2019, of the freezing order of the High Court;
The immediate forfeiture to the State of all movable and immovable assets including developed and undeveloped landed properties, chattels, shares, and other acquisitions by Mr Muhammed Bazzi, a close associate of former President Jammeh; and
The immediate forfeiture to the State of all monies in all frozen commercial bank accounts in The Gambia upon the expiration, on 17 June 2019, of the freezing order of the High Court. All financial institutions in the country especially the commercial banks are hereby advised to take note of this action and announcement which will soon be followed by correspondence specifically addressed to each of them.
The President has also approved the establishment of an inter-ministerial taskforce, at the technical and ministerial levels, and comprising the Ministries of Justice, Finance, Lands, Tourism, and Agriculture to handle all matters in relation to the said interim measures, and to deal especially with 3rd party interests arising from claims of properties acquired by former President Jammeh, taking into account the recommendations of the Commission.
In view of this decision, the proposed commission of inquiry into lands that were unlawfully confiscated, demolished or otherwise unlawfully acquired by former President Jammeh, will no longer be necessary as the said taskforce will now handle all 3rd party claims to property vis-à-vis former President Jammeh to the extent possible.
Furthermore, the Attorney General invites all those persons whose properties were acquired by former President Jammeh through a judicial sale by the Sheriff of the High Court to contact the Solicitor General or the Attorney General at the Ministry of Justice, in person or through authorized 3rd parties, between 24 and 28 June 2019.
All other persons with claims over any of the properties of former President Jammeh are hereby advised to address their claims in writing to the Ministry of Justice by 28 June 2019, and to meanwhile desist from interfering with any of the said properties forfeited to the State.
These measures will be published in the Gazette as public notice. More information about the measures and other subsequent actions will be included in the Government White Paper.
I once again, call on the international community particularly our friends and allies in the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Africa region and the Middle East with expertise and experience in asset recovery to assist The Gambia track and recover stolen assets belonging to the State. The Gambia desperately needs all the assistance it can get in this endeavor.
I have today filed a nolle prosequi effectively terminating legal proceedings against Ms Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay and Mr Yankuba Touray who were being prosecuted for various offences including conspiracy to interfere with a TRRC witness. All charges against them in respect of these offences have now been dropped. Interfering with a TRRC witness is a very serious offence and I hope that there are lessons here for everyone.
While I am not yet in a position to inform the public of my reasons for this decision, but I hope to be able to do so later, I take this opportunity to renew my call for all witnesses or potential witnesses to cooperate fully with the TRRC as it tries to establish the truth about our dark past and help us reconcile as a nation. Any attempts to undermine this national healing process in any manner will bear serious consequences.
Security Sector Reform
Over the past two weeks, two drafting teams have been commissioned to draft two strategy documents for the security sector reform process. They include members from the Ministries of Justice, Defence, Interior, different security agencies, and the Ministry of Women’s affairs.
They will be drafting the National Security Strategy to implement the National Security Policy, and the Security Sector Reform Strategy to specifically address the findings and recommendations of the Security Sector Reform Assessment Report which was completed in December 2017. They have up to 3 months to complete both drafts. A 5 day retreat has been organized for them from 17 to 21 June to kickstart the drafting exercise. We will endeavor to provide you with a timeline of activities and deliverables in this critical reform process soon.