How M. L. Gibba and Ousman Jammeh stood up to Mohammed Bazzi, Amadou Samba and Jammeh

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Ousman Jammeh, a respected civil servant with a self-effacing personality who rose up the ranks to become Deputy Permanent Secretary during the Jawara era and was eventually tapped by Jammeh to be the Head of the Civil Service and Secretary General. was also known for quiet demeanor and his serious approach to being a public servant.

Mr. M. L. Gibba who is related to the Gambian dictator rose up the ranks at the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) to become its Managing Director.  He built a reputation as an incorruptible public servant – a reputation that was constantly being tested by one of Africa’s most corrupt leaders.

Despite his familial ties to Jammeh – he mentored Jammeh – and his appetite for engaging in corrupt practices, much to the chagrin of  Mr. Gibba, he maintained his reputation at the risk of going to Mile II prisons.

Ousman Jammeh was Secretary general when the “Barajally” ferry was forcibly taken away from GPA and handed over to the Gam-Petroleum Corporation.  According to the public testimony of Mr. M. L. Gibba, the instructions came from State House  to hand over the ferry to Amadou Samba and Mohammed Bazzi after he refused to comply with their request.

According to a source familiar with the case, when Mohammed Bazzi and Amadou Samba held a heated meeting with the Managing Director’s office who refused to agree to the release of the ferry, the duo reported the matter to Jammeh who proceeded to direct his Secretary General, Ousman Jammeh, to verbally instruct Mr. Gibba to surrender the vessel to Messrs. Bazzi and Samba.

Secretary General Jammeh, recognizing the gravity of having to permanently withdraw the ferry from service, thus denying the people of CRR the use of a public asset, insisted that the instruction must be documented.  A letter was then drafted and signed on behalf of the Secretary General by one Ebrima J.T. Kujabi, a close aid to both the then Secretary General and Yaya Jammeh, a source said.

Neither Jammeh nor his two close business associates liked the idea of a letter being issued to that effect documenting such a politically sensitive which would prevent them from plausibly denying they took such action.

We have seen Bazzi arguing before the Commission that the ferry was worthless, drawing, and rightfully so, the scorn of Mrs. Bensouda, Counsel to the Commission for blaming M. L. Gibba for all of Euro-Africa Group’s troubles being experienced with their investments in both at Gamb-Petroleum and Banjul Milling Corporation.  We are glad that Mr. Gibba will be invited back to face the Commission to respond to Bazzi’s claims that the ferry “Barajally” was worthless junk.

All is not lost, however.  There were, and still are, honorable men and women who did not allow themselves to be used by corrupt leaders like Yaya Jammeh and who stood up to the piranhas who preyed on a weak and vulnerable state that has been pushed to the boundaries of a failed state.

by Sidi Sanneh

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