(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has again rescinded the persona non grata he declared against a prominent Lebanese businessman and investor accused by the United States of supporting the terrorist group, Hezbollah.
Hussein Tajudeen (also known as Tajideen by the US Government), co-owner of Tajco, parent company of the Gambia’s biggest shopping centre, Kairaba Shopping Centre, was expelled from the Gambia in May 2015 by the government of Yahya Jammeh.
No reason was given for his expulsion but a statement from the Office of the President said Mr Tajudeen was asked to leave Banjul within 72 hours or face deportation. He was also given 30 days to shut down all his businesses in the country including the grand Kairaba Shopping Centre.
But in a surprise move, the president said Mr Tajudeen is free to return to the Gambia and continue operating his business empire.
No reasons were given for Mr Jammeh’s sudden change of heart but a statement from his office read on state television on Friday said “the general public is hereby informed that President Yahya Jammeh has pardoned Mr Hussein Tajudeen (Tajco) who had earlier been declared persona non grata. Mr Tajudeen is therefore free to return to the Gambia.”
This is the second time Mr Jammeh is rescinding the persona non grata against Mr Tajudeen.
In June 2013 Mr Tajudeen was sent packing out of Banjul by Mr Jammeh after being accused of taking part in ‘undesirable’ business activities which have very serious health and economic consequences to the people and Government of the Gambia.
Although Mr Jammeh had vowed at the time to come down heavily on ‘greedy and unscrupulous businessmen’ like Mr Tajudeen, ‘who are just after their profit margins and not the welfare and well-being of the consumers to operate in the country’, he made a u-turn four months later and rescinded Mr Tajudeen’s persona non grata.
Mr Tajudeen is one of the main importers of rice, flour and other basic commodities in the Gambia. His Tajco Company provided employment opportunities for hundreds of Gambians.
In 2013, the Kairaba Shopping Centre and its parent company Tajco were accused by the US Government of forming part of a multinational network which generates funds for the Lebanese movement Hezbollah.
US investigators believed that Mr Tajudeen and associates used their lucrative and cash-rich food import and supermarket business to generate revenues, create smoke and mirrors, and launder money from other activities.