(JollofNews) – Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh took over control of a grant from Qatar, which he used to purchase and maintain his presidential jet, a commission of inquiry probing his financial activities was told.
According to Mambury Njie, who served as Mr Jammeh’s Finance and Economic Affairs from February 2011 to April 2012, the former Gambian ruler requested a grant from Doha and made him one of the signatories to an account at the Central Bank of the Gambia where the money was to be deposited.
He said when he was first approached by Mr Jammeh about opening the account for the grant at the central bank, he advised the president to channel it through the director of treasury.
“After signing the documents to set up the account, I was not aware whether the grant was paid into it or not,” he added.
“The letter requesting the opening of the account from the Treasury was not copied to me. It was the responsibility of the director of Treasury to ensure that the proper procedure is followed.”
Challenged by lead counsel Amie Bensounda whether it’s appropriate for a both a Finance minister and the president to be signatories to an account containing a significant amount of money given to Gambians, Mr Njie said he thought at the time that it was within his mandate of as minister to be a signatory to the account.
He added: “I didn’t think it was fair for me to give that burden to my permanent secretary. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to mobilise resources and I was under the impression that it is normal for me to be a signatory and follow up the matter since it involved procurement of the state aircraft and to ensure proper procurement.”
Mr Njie who served as Gambia’s minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad between April and August 2012, said the Qatari grant did not follow the correct procedure because Mr Jammeh personally sought the grant.
He added that while he was aware that Mr Jammeh purchased an aircraft, he has no idea whether he used the Qatari grant to purchase it.
“I was told when I enquired about the aircraft that the president got it through his contacts,” he said.