Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said The Gambia is going to enforce and implement the recent sanctions the United States government imposed against Muhammed Bazzi, a former close associate of dictator Yahya Jammeh. “Absolutely, the United States is an ally of the Gambia; has been a strong traditional ally of the Gambia. We are cooperating in many, many areas; they are providing us with assistance in a number of fields. So, we will absolutely enforce and uphold the sanctions against Bazzi,” Mr. Tambadou told the Freedom Newspaper in an interview over the weekend.
“As I said, we will take whatever measures necessary to enforce the sanctions against Mr. Bazzi. We will also meanwhile, continue to pursue our own investigations through the Commission of inquiry that is ongoing into this dealings with former president Jammeh,” he added.
According to the Gambian Justice Minister, the US’s sanctions against Bazzi, has confirmed that the Gambian government has a legitimate case against the Lebanese businessman, and his former partner Yahya Jammeh. Both Bazzi and Yahya Jammeh are subject of investigations at the Janneh Commission.
“The Commission’s actions to restraint Muhammed Bazzi from disposing of his assets in the country, pending the completion of the Commission of inquiry into the financial dealings of the former president is justified. It shows that Muhammed Bazzi is a person of interest; of continued interest to the government of the Gambia and we will continue with our investigations through this Commission of inquiry in order to establishing all the facts surrounding all his dealings and relationship with the former president Jammeh,” Tambadou remarked.
Mr. Tambadou said prior to the US unleashing its sanctions against Bazzi, the Gambian government has been in contact with the US authorities on matters of national concern. Though, he wouldn’t disclose the nature of the correspondences or communications the Gambian government had with the US authorities.
“Well, we have been in close contacts with the United States government through various agencies and I am afraid those details I cant disclose on this interview. We have been collaborating very closely with the US government; and allow me, to remind you that this is not the first time that the US government has acted on the basis of our collaboration with them. The Magnitsky sanctions imposed on Yankuba Badjie and former president Jammeh; it is another indication of the results of this collaboration,” he said.
When asked whether the US authorities have officially informed the Gambian government about the sanctions imposed on Bazzi, Tambadou responded in the affirmative.
“Yes, they have indeed the dossier on Bazzi. It was presented to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by the United Ambassador here in the Gambia and I was also given a copy of it by the same Ambassador. In broad terms, it conveys an official manner; the sanctions that the United States has imposed upon Muhammed Bazzi,” he added.
Quizzed further to disclose the details of the Ambassador’s communication to the government; and whether the US government has issued an arrest warrant for Bazzi, Justice Minister Tambadou said: “I am afraid I can’t disclose the details of that communication to you at this moment.”
When asked whether has any message for Lebanese, who are interested in investing in the Gambia, Tambadou remarked: “Well I am not sure whether this is about Lebanese businessmen or businessmen from any particular community or ethnicity. I think this is about an individual Muahammed Bazzi, who is a man of interest to the Gambia government, who is being investigated as part of our efforts to unravel the financial dealings of the former president; I think we should confine it to Muhammed Bazzi as an individual and not generalize it to the wider Lebanese community, and allow me, to state that who have been part of the Gambian community for many, many decades; who have been an outstanding citizens of this country; who have contributed economically; socially; politically; and culturally to the metropolitan nature of Gambian societies and I think we should not paint any brush really across the aboard on the basis of the individual’s actions of one person.”
Gambian journalist, and Public Relations officer Fatu Camara, recalled seeing Bazzi at the State House in Banjul, on numerous occasions while serving as Jammeh’s Press Director. She told the Freedom Newspaper that Bazzi was involved in fueling dictator Jammeh’s plane, and throwing birthday parties for the exiled dictator among others.
She recalled Bazzi meeting her in Ethiopia during a trip she made to that country with dictator Jammeh. Bazzi, she said was accompanied by some guests during that trip. She also said Bazzi facilitated the presence of Syrian doctors to the Gambia.
According to Fatu Camara, Bazzi was Jammeh’s economic engine, and had played a crucial role towards funding the dictatorship. She also said Bazzi owns Gam-petroleum Limited.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
From: Freedom Newspaper