Gambia’s Land Minister Musa Drammeh is said to be interested in buying a house that belongs to a Gambian lady “name withheld” for now, who had earlier told the Janneh Commission that she was forced to sell her Bijilo home to dictator Yahya Jammeh at a giveaway price, this medium has gathered. Jammeh first occupied the property as a tenant. He rented the property for his former wife Alima Sallah, prior to forcing his landlord to sell the property that was estimated to have worth 25million dalasis market value to him for D10 million dalasis, sources said.
“In 2011 Jammeh approached the owner of the home through Amadou Samba who wanted to buy the home. The owner told them they are not interested in selling and they already have someone renting the home. Amadou Samba explained to the owner that it is Jammeh who wanted the home for his second wife and will rent it. He forced the then tenants out and made the owner sign a rental agreement,” according to one source familiar with the story.
The lady was subsequently forced to sell her home to Jammeh. She complied with Jammeh’s orders, and the property was disposed.
“Meanwhile, the owner was getting word that Jammeh is upset that he could not buy the home from the owner for his wife. Later on, the owner was escorted by soldiers to Amadou Samba’s office and made to sign a sale agreement where a bag full of money was handed to them to count. The owner called her husband who called bankers to come and count the money then carry to the bank. Jammeh paid D10M for the home, but the home was worth 25M as shown in the valuation documents sent to you,” our source intimated.
The lady had told the Janneh Commission that she was forced to sell her home to Jammeh.
The lady’s lawyer has been making efforts to help his clients recover their property. He had initially offered three options to The Gambian government regarding the property in question:
“ Should the Government want to keep the property then my clients be paid the full market value at the time of the forced sale, which was D25,000,000. This would mean that my clients who were paid only D10,000,000 with interest on the D15,000,00 at 15% from 2012 which is D9,000.000. The total sum to be paid to my clients would be D24,000,000,” the lady’s lawyer stated.
The second option, according to the lawyer, “ my clients would pay to the Government the sum of D10,000,000 paid by Yahya AJJ Jammeh less 5 years rent of D1,000,000 per annum which is D5,000,000. My client would also be entitled to make deductions of D4,500,000 for the damage done to the property and removal of valuable fixtures on the property.”
The third option was for his clients “to refund the sum of D10,000,000 less such deductions as may be agreed with the state.”
Legal correspondences from the lady’s lawyer have revealed that his clients were forced to sell their property to the former President Yahya AJJ Jammeh at a value imposed by Jammeh through his agent Amadou Samba.
In a letter addressed to the Solicitor General, the lady’s lawyer had referenced the statements that were written by his client’s husband and brother regarding the disputed property.
He cited the memorandum of sale between the parties concerned and the tenancy agreement that was handled by the Global Properties between his clients and the Kanilai Family Farms, a company owned by Jammeh.
The lady’s hope of recovering her property through the Janneh Commission had woefully failed, as the commission wouldn’t buy her statement that she was forced to sell her property to Jammeh under duress.
“When Jammeh left, the owner was visited by someone from the President’s office and told her the property is handed back to her. After few months, the owner was called to the Janneh Commission, and she gave a statement about what happened to the property including how she was literally forced under duress to sell a home she did not want to sell and for less than half of the value. The Janneh commission later came up with an interesting conclusion that says the property was sold to Jammeh, but the owner did tell them the sale was under duress and at that time everyone knew that whatever Jammeh wants he gets in Gambia. The owner made a proposal through her lawyer to pay back the money D10M Jammeh gave her less the two years rent he did not pay but the Janneh Commission did not respond,” our source said.
Lands Minister Musa Drammeh is said to be interested in the said property. Though, the property hasn’t been yet placed in the market for auction sale.
It would be recalled that some of Jammeh’s seized properties were disposed without going through a public auction sale.
“The property is not put in the market for sale because apparently, the current Minister of Lands is interested in the home and is manipulating the Janneh Commission to give a flimsy ruling- something the owner already told them in writing,” our source alleged.
“There’s more information coming in about these properties they took. This particular home is now assigned to the Financial Intelligence Unit and they are doing some work at the home including renovation of the swimming pool. Why does an office need a swimming pool? Also, the Janneh Commission were able to allow some other people recoup their properties by paying money back to the commission. One such case was a property owned by Modou Peul – the Banjul Businessman. Jammeh took his property for a grossly undervalued amount if D3 million but he was able to recoup the property through the commission by paying back the money and selling the property to someone else. Why can’t they afford the same opportunity to this lady? This is the type of hanky panky games they are playing around these assets. They are interested in owning the place and using the pretext of “assigned to Financial Intelligence Unit” to eventually take over the property,” our source added.
Lands Minister Musa Drammeh could not be reached for comment. His phone line was unreachable when we contacted him.
The listed phone number we have Amadou Samba wasn’t working when called.
The documents below were sent to us by a reliable source regarding the disputed Bijilo property.