There are no facts yet to back the widely circulated claims that Gambia’s ex-ruler Yahya Jammeh looted millions of dollars from the country’s treasury before leaving for exile, a spokesman of President Adama Barrow has revealed.
Speaking on BBC Newsday late night programme on Sunday from Banjul, Halifa Sallah, the chief spokesman for Gambia’s new government, said no government institution had been audited and hence no findings could have been made.
“You cannot make allegations without any auditing of accounts. You don’t know what has happened there,” Mr Sallah added.
Mai Ahmad Fatty, an adviser to the new president, had said on Sunday, 22 January that 500 million dalasis (US$11.45 million) had been withdrawn by Jammeh prior to his leaving the country on Saturday.
Mr Fatty, speaking to reporters in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, gave the impression that the money had been stolen by Jammeh and probably taken with him into exile.
“The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact. It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia” Fatty said.
However, Sallah, who is also a senior partner in the 7-party coalition government, faulting Fatty’s allegations questioned the veracity of the claims that millions of dollars are missing from the country’s coffers.
Sallah said the new administration of President Barrow was yet to audit any government institution to know whether money had been illegally removed from the state coffers by the previous regime.
Sallah warned people against rushing to make allegations of financial impropriety against the Jammeh regime without any audit of government accounts.
Sallah said officials of the Central Bank of The Gambia have stated with clarity that the Bank and all the commercial banks in the country were functioning normally.
“President Barrow has aides but also has his spokesperson in my very person. If you want authentic and reliable information, please rely on what he says and what I say,” Sallah advised journalists.
He added that ministers were being appointed by the new government and once they assumed office, they would find out what has happened in the government institutions. He said any wrongdoing would be made public in the interest of accountability.
Jammeh flew into exile late on Saturday, ending a protracted political crisis caused by his dramatic U-turn after initially conceding the election to Barrow.
Meanwhile, forces of the ECOWAS Military Intervention In Gambia (ECOMIG) entered The Gambian capital Banjul on Sunday as part of an elaborate mopping up operation that would pave the way for the return to the country of President Barrow, who is still in Dakar.
The head of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel de Souza, said the mopping up operation will clear the way for Barrow’s eventual return to Banjul.
According to De Souza, the ECOMIG troops are also mandated to search, find and neutralize secret weapons depots that Jammeh had built over the years.
“We will look for hidden weapons and mercenaries will be arrested to create a true situation of tranquillity, secure the return of populations who fear reprisals and to ensure that the country regain its national unity” he added.