Janneh Commission chairman handing over the report to President Adama Barrow, March 29th 2019

We can no longer go down on bended knee begging for debt relief or acquiring more debts when almost US$1billion, equivalent to one year of GDP and twice the size of our external debt allegedly looted over two decades of Jammeh’s rule is still unrecovered!

It would be recalled that the report of the Janneh commission was delivered to President Adama Barrow on March 29th 2019. At the time of submitting the 1,600-page document divided into nine volumes, the Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou said: “the report exposes the financial dealings of the former President ranging from complex web of intricate and sophisticated international financial transactions that bears all the hallmarks of criminality and money laundering in particular aided by his close associates, to shameless acts of brazen outright thievery at the Central Bank of The Gambia”.

Mr. Tambadou then promised that government will use all legal means at its disposal including civil and criminal proceedings, to recover the monies. Almost 5 months today, nothing has been done or any appropriate action taken to recover all the amount involved, including the USD 498,000.00 (equivalent to almost D25 million) that were hidden accounts in local commercial banks, the pilfering of at least $90 million from state coffers by Yaya Jammeh during his rule from July 1994 to January 2017.

According to the Chairman of the commission, the former President is also liable for over one billion dalasi; over 304 million Dollars; over 29 million Euros, and over 2 million Pounds Sterling.

Put together, these incredibly stupendous amount of recoverable monies could fund the implementation of our NDP and safe us from the indignity of acquiring more debts. But, the lack of commitment so far by this government to recover every butut stolen by Jammeh and his cohorts is telling the whole world that we condone corruption.

By continuing to sit on the panel report for such an unusually long period of time, the government of Adama Barrow is sending a wrong signal to the international community that it is safe to loot the SSHFC pension fund, use the central bank as a private checking account, collaborate with terrorist financiers to launder millions and willfully misappropriate millions in foreign aid meant to provide inclusive development for the people.

One of the most effective tools to fight corruption is to expose it anywhere and everywhere thus breaking the cycle of impunity by bringing perpetrators to book. It’s called Accountability. Countries successful at curbing corruption have a long tradition of accountability, government openness, effective law enforcement, freedom of the press, transparency and access to information. Punishing corruption is a vital component of any effective government.

The new Sierra Leonean government is doing a fantastic job in curbing graft. We should also be ready to do same and forget about populist politics.

Mr.Tambadou cannot tell us as a professional lawyer, it would take him and his team of competent lawyers six months to go through the entire nine volumes of the report before advising the President for appropriate action.

If it can take minister Tambadou less than a week to finalize the processes involved in releasing the confessed killers who committed heinous crimes against fellow Gambians, there is no justification to further delay the release of the Janneh commission report.

Failure to act swiftly and release the entire report to the public would further confirm the widely held belief that there is behind-the-scene tactics to expunge the names of some of Jammeh’s enablers adversely affected in the report and currently serving the Barrow government in various capacities such as ministers, ambassadors, heads of public institutions, chief of protocol, security service chiefs and special presidential advisers.

As we continue to increase our debt levels and hat in hand begging for debt relief despite fears of widespread donor fatigue, the Ministry of Justice must prioritize the release of the document in its entirety to allow president Barrow who, at the time of the submission of the commission’s report, promised to implement all the recommendations presented to him without fear or favor. Or is the president still reviewing the report?

This important document which took twenty two months to produce and cost taxpayers over D50 million, should no longer remain confidential.