It has been revealed that the Gambia ex-president, Yahya Jammeh, who has just gone on exile on Saturday, January 21, after being ousted by West African military force, stole $11 million in his final weeks in power.
According to an aide to the newly inaugurated President Adama Barrow, not only did Jammeh steal millions of dollars, he also shipped unknown number of luxury vehicles by cargo plane as he flew out of Gambia to Equatorial Guinea where he is expected to settle with his family and ending his 22 years at the helm of the small West Africa nation.
Mr. Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists in neighbouring Senegal about the financial ruin the development has caused the country’s coffers.
“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in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia, that over two weeks, over 500 million Dalasi were withdrawn.”
Following Mr. Barrow’s win in the election on 1 December, Mr. Jammeh refused to step down, triggering weeks of uncertainty that almost ended in a full military intervention. As a result, a West African military force, greeted by cheers from relieved residents, entered the country to pave way for the new president, who has been in neighbouring Senegal for more than a week, to return to capital Banjul and take power.
Ex-president Jammeh, left Banjul in the early morning of Saturday on an unmarked plane alongside Guinea President Alpha Conde, with small minority of die hard supporters, some of whom wept as his plane departed.
The Gambia’s newly crowned President, Mr. Barrow is eager to return “as soon as possible”, the aide said. However, he warned that “the state of security in the Gambia is still fragile.”
A statement released by Mr. Barrow through his aide said ‘additional forces’ has crossed into the Gambia to beef up the numbers already on the ground. He said:
“The new administration want the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forces to stay in the Gambia because they were absolutely required. We want their mandate to be extended.”
He added that Mr. Barrow was waiting for assurances of loyalty from the security forces, including the police and the army.
It was further revealed that Mr. Jammeh while in office, personally controlled certain sections of the security forces, and his long tenure was marked by systematic rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention.
There are concerns over the wording of a statement issued by the United Nations, ECOWAS and the African Union that seemed to offer Mr Jammeh comfortable guarantees for his future, but experts told AFP the document was not legally binding. More report confirms that the first priority for the new government will be to ensure the safe return of tens of thousands of people who have fled in recent weeks in fear of a bloody end to the crisis.
The political crisis instigated by the ex president Yahya Jammeh had also sparked the exodus of thousands of foreign visitors, dealing a potentially devastating blow to a country which earns up to 20% of its income from tourism.