(JollofNews) – Ebrima Jawara, son of former Gambian leader, Sir Dawda Jawara has on Tuesday been indicted by prosecutors with three other senior officials of the West African nation’s agricultural department of stealing more than D8 million dalasis (USD $216,216.22) from the state.
The four men including Dr. Alasan Bah, Sulayman Manneh, Lamin Fatajo and Momodou Lamin Mass are facing a 10 count charge on economic crime, abuse of office and theft by taking and are committed to custody at the state’s central prisons in the outskirts of the capital Banjul by Judge Fatou Darboe of the Banjul Magistrate Court.
Judge Darboe remanded the men after she ruled that her court does not have the mandate to try economic crime charges and has transferred the case to the high court. They appeared before the judge without an attorney.
The criminal complaint alleged that the senior officials allocated themselves the amount of D8,432,720 without approval from the project steering committee.
Prosecutors accused them of stealing D8, 432,720, further alleging that the senior agricultural officials allocated themselves the said amount without approval from the project steering committee and said they used the said funds for their monthly fuel allowance as well.
Mr. Jawara, who was manning positions at the Ministry of Agriculture as of July was separately accused of taking a loan of D300,000 from PIWAMP, an agricultural project that he diverted for his own personal use.
President Jammeh appointed Mr Jawara as director of the Central Coordinating Unit, Acting Project Director for the NEMA Project, Acting Project Director of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program and Project Director of the Gambia Commercial Agricultural and Value Chain Management Project, where he was also the accounting officer for the World Bank funded program.
Jammeh believes the project directors, most of which are funded by the World Bank and IFAD are holding the agricultural sector at ransom.
Many are not surprised that Mr. Jawara has been arrested and has warned him of possible prosecution earlier. They say it is typical of the Jammeh Administration to give one lots of position, making you feel powerful, which they opine is a clear sign of jail time.
In less two months after his appointments, he is now arrest and being prosecuted.
Jawara was the Director of the Central Coordinating Unit for a month in February 2014 before becoming Permanent Secretary of Agriculture the same month, and 4 months later in May 2014, became Permanent Secretary at the Office of The President until July 2014 when he was reassigned back to being the Permanent Secretary of Agriculture for only a month.
Later in July 2014, President Jammeh appointed him Permanent Secretary 3 at his office and in September 2014 became first Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President. In February 2015, he got promoted to Permanent Secretary at the Office of the President until his recent new appoints earlier this month.
Jammeh has already warned project directors to change their ways saying: “I called you for a family meeting and I am going to advice you and as well warn you.”
“As from today I have taken full control of agriculture, I am the Minister of Agriculture and am going to appoint a deputy. So business as usual is history, we are crying for funds only to realize that there are funds sitting down there underutilize in projects,” Jammeh said.
The Gambian leader who has been minister of agriculture for most of his 21 year ‘repressive’ rule said projects come to an end as soon as the funding stops complaining that fields lie fallow and eventually turns into a jungle until another project comes in.
The Central Projects Coordinating Unit was created in 2007 to ensure the effective and efficient supervision and coordination of all projects and programs under the Gambia National Agricultural Investment Plan.
Jawara’s arrest and subsequent detention came barely a month after his mother, Former First Lady Njaimeh Mboge-Jawara was put under house arrest and ordered to pay a restitution of about GBP £24,095 (USD 37,978.54; GMD D1,519,141.60) after she pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud. The former first lady, donated money to a golf club, where his son, Ebrima is the president.
President Jammeh, who ousted Mr Ebrima Jawara’s father in a coup in 1994 was his personal bodyguard. The former first son has written books about President Yahya Jammeh citing his development projects though Jammeh has been accused of rights violations.
Ebrima Jawara has been very critical of his own father’s regime saying “I told him, The Gambia does not belong to him.”
(Reporting from Banjul; Writing by Sainey MK Marenah; Editing by Sam Phatey)