Banjul, Gambia | AFP | Gambian President Adama Barrow has set up a commission to probe the assets of former leader Yahya Jammeh, accused of stealing at least $50 million from the tiny west African state.
In May, The Gambia’s justice minister announced that Jammeh had plundered the meagre state coffers before leaving for exile in Equatorial Guinea in January after 22 years in power. He promised a commission would trace the cash.
At a ceremony Thursday naming the commission’s members, Barrow said it was “mandated to look into the management of some public enterprises as well as assets and financial transactions of the former president Yahya Jammeh and some of his associates.”
It will be chaired by high-profile lawyer Surahata Semega Janneh, who will work alongside an accountant and former banker.
Head of the commission Janneh made it clear the commission had no jurisdiction to hold a criminal trial.
But it was “empowered by law to make orders, adverse findings and recommendations that may infringe an individual’s rights and privileges,” he said.
Attorney General and Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said all hearings would be held in public during the commission’s three-month investigation. After that, its findings would be presented to the president.
“The exercise is not a witch-hunt,” Tambadou added.
“Hence the choice of the members of this commission who are distinguished professionals with utmost integrity and experience in different but relevant areas of work.”
Tambadou emphasised the independence of the commission, which begins its work almost two months after Jammeh’s assets in The Gambia were frozen.
Jammeh ran everything from bakeries to farms during his 22-year tenure and was regularly accused of taking over successful businesses for his own gain.
He only left the country under threat of a west African military intervention after losing to Barrow in a December election and refusing for weeks to acknowledge the result.
Meanwhile police continue to investigate dozens of forced disappearances under Jammeh’s rule, with the families of the victims clamouring for justice.