Former president Yahya Jammeh and his close associates were alleged to have stolen $1 billion dollars from the state coffers

Part 1

The Gambia Government has said that it spent GMD 50, 951, 26 to the Janneh Commission to recover Yahya Jammeh’s loot.

The Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Baa Marie Tambadou, revealed that the Commission probing into the financial dealings of Yahya Jammeh was able to generate monies from its activities amounting to GMD 67, 894, 170 from the sale of recovered tractors and other items as well as monies in bank accounts hidden and other landed properties discovered by the Commission.

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) authored by Khadija Sharife and Mark Anderson reported that former President Yahya Jammeh “orchestrated the embezzlement of nearly US$1 billion of public funds and illegal timber revenue during his 22-years rule, looting the treasury in a long-running conspiracy that crippled one of the world’s poorest countries”

According to the Justice Minister that “Jammeh, either directly or through third parties, embezzled over 1 billion dalasis (over 20 million U.S. dollars)” in his 22 years of rule.

A chart of The Gambia’s missing millions as reported by the OCCRP

How much has been recovered and returned from Yahya Jammeh’s loot? How much is kept in a special account at the Central Bank of the Gambia or spent on social welfare programmes?

In the absence of any evidence that Yahya Jammeh stole the money from the statutory allocation to the then Federal Military Government (AFPRC defunct) after the sharing of the revenue accruing to the Government as a whole, it rightly can be assumed that the money belonged to the Gambia.

Since Yahya Jammeh stole the money from the Gambia, and not from the Central Bank alone, is the money not that of the Gambia? Is it the exclusive property of the Government? If the answer is in the negative, can the Government, acting alone, spend the money? Shouldn’t the money be paid into the distributable pool in the Government Consolidation Account and shared in accordance with the extant revenue allocation formula amongst the three tiers of government?

The argument that the money could be stolen at the states level, like the “Paris Club refund “is not a valid reason for short circuiting the restitution process. The money was stolen from the Gambia. It should return to the Gambia. And the Government of the Gambia is the Gambia.

To be continued.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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