DA Jawo and president Jammeh
DA Jawo and Ex-President Jammeh

(JollofNews) – A temporal freeze on the assets of Gambia’s former ruler Yahya Jammeh was put in place by the government to ascertain whether they lawfully belong to him, the country’s Information has said.

Demba Ali Jawo said although the government has not seized Mr Jammeh’s assets in the Gambia, it is setting up an inquiry to establish the true ownership of the assets the has declared.

“The government is just launching an inquiry into his assets, until they can determine that the assets were lawfully acquired or not,” Mr Jawo told the independent Standard Newspaper.

“That was why the court order was sought to freeze them. If they were found to have been lawfully belonging to him, they will be returned.”

Mr Jammeh, 52, who governed the Gambia for 22 years, was booted out of power in January 2017 after a shock defeat in the presidential election by opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

As part of the deal and ‘in order to assist a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power and the establishment of a new government,’ Mr Jammeh agreed to temporarily leave the Gambia on 21 January 2017 for Equatorial Guinea with his wife and family with assurance that the regional group Ecowas, the African Union and the United Nation will work with the Government of the Gambia to prevent the seizure of assets and properties lawfully belonging to him or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters, as guaranteed under the Constitution and other laws of the Gambia.

But last month the Government of the Gambia obtained a court order to temporal freeze his 131 landed properties, 86 different bank accounts, 14 companies, organisations and livestock directly associated with him.

The government said the court order was aimed at preventing him from liquidating or dissipating his assets so as not to cause prejudice to the state should there be adverse findings made against him by a court which may require the recovery of assets and money from him.

“That section [in the deal brokered by Ecowas, the African Union and the United Nation] says assets lawfully belonging to the former president. So the government has not taken over his properties just yet. The injunction was meant to make it impossible for anyone to use them until it is confirmed that the president acquired them lawfully,” the Information ministered clarified.