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11385 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  15:20:28  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Let there be a Full and an Independent Investigation into Illegal Timber Trade.
By Madi Jobarteh

The Government’s press release on July 1 that it has revoked all timber permits with a new regulation is nothing but a smokescreen to divert attention from the corruption involved in this business perpetrated by Government officials themselves. Now that they have been adequately exposed by both the media and the UN, the Government is acting smart by issuing this statement. I call on all Gambians to reject this press release until there is accountability first.

We do not need Ministers and the Government Spokesperson to defend anyone. Let there be a full and an independent investigation. That is the ethical, professional, and legal thing to do when such allegations erupt especially about a potential involvement of the President. The Voice newspaper report has provided vehicle and container numbers and names of persons involved in this alleged illegal trade purportedly in the President’s interest. This is serious.

Such information should not be brushed aside with a mere high sounding and bombastic press releases and comments from Ministers and Ebrima Sankareh. What is expected is for the Government to be interested in knowing the names, vehicles and containers involved, and if the President is involved or linked to these trucks and containers or not. If not, the Government needs to also ascertain if these trucks, containers, and persons are engaged in illegal activity or not. This is what is expected and not a misleading and laughable press release.
Secondly, how come the Voice story came out on June 29 only to trigger a laughable press release from Sankareh a day later, July 1 to be followed by another press release from the same Sankareh on the same day announcing a revocation of all timber export permits? Why would these press releases and government action happen just 24 hours after a breaking story about the President’s complicity in illegal timber trade?

Clearly these press releases did not come out of the blue. We know that illegal timber trade has been going on in this country since the new Government came to power. We know that since June 8, the UN body responsible for forestry matters, CITES has suspended the Gambia’s license to trade in rosewood. The decision is in reaction to the failure of the Government to ensure legal trade.

In April 2022, Malagen, a reputable investigative news outlet also broke a story about this illegal timber trade in which it said, “The government is complicit. At the expense of lives and livelihoods, the presidency and environment ministry often waive the rules and authorize illegal export of timber in the name of ‘maximising revenue’ for the government.”

In July 2020, another reputable media organization, the BBC exposed massive illegal trade in timber in the Gambia. In a groundbreaking report, the BBC said, “figures obtained by BBC Africa Eye showed that China has imported more than 300,000 tonnes of West African rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus) from The Gambia since President Adama Barrow came to power in 2017.”

We know that in August 2018 both Barrow and Macky Sall made a joint statement before journalists in Dakar that their two governments are determined to combat timber trade in the Casamance region.

Now, given all of the above, the Gambia Government never felt compelled to issue a press release as they did on July 1 to tackle this illegal activity. But soon after the Voice newspaper linked the President to the trade, immediately a crude and insulting high velocity press release was dispatched by Ebrima Sankareh who is notorious for falsity and misinforming the public! But even before the Voice got to this stage, Malagen had first reported that the presidency and the Ministry of Environment were complicit.

Therefore, let the Gambia Government be serious and spill the beans. We need transparency, accountability, and probity. I stand with the Voice newspaper story until the Government institutes a full and independent enquiry on the illegal timber trade in the Gambia. Until then, President Adama Barrow and the former Minister of Environment Lamin Dibba and their officials have a case to answer.

For the Gambia, Our Homeland

Reveals:President Barrow Allegedly Accuse Of Timber Trade
The Voice: June 29, 2022
By: Nyima Sillah

Official source on Tuesday allegedly accused President Adama Barrow and three other senior officials at the State House of being responsible for timber exportation from The Gambia.

In an exclusive interview, the source revealed to this medium that the timber exportation is above the Department of Forestry due to the bad governance system existing in the country.

“When the ministry announced banned on timber export, these trucks, and the containers during the banned period exported timbers oversea,” the source claimed.

Our source when further outlined that the trucks, January 17, 2022, numbered BJL 7284 T, KM 2497 D, KM 3604 D, BJL 0894 Q, BJL 3123 H, BJL 9101 M, BJL 5322 R, BJL 5436 N, BJL 5380 N and BJL 0097 R overseen by Kalipha Bah

The Containers, January 1, 2022, FCIU 558664-0-CSNU 168689-4, EUTU 227455-3 -FFAU140200-4, CSLU 181767-8 20f, UETU 220986-1 20f, TLLU 299763-9 20f, FCIU 6132318 20f, SEGU 288527-2 20f, SEGU 203498-, TRHU 384187-5 20f, 263277-5 20f all overseen by Kalipha Bah,” he disclosed.

“Former President Yahya Jammeh was directly controlling the timber business and from him, President Adama Barrow also came in and take direct control over the business,” our source added.

“We have containers that were controlled under the business of this present president Adama Barrow and three big people who are responsible in bringing the Cargo ship and they are also responsible for collecting the timbers and taking it to the container and Gambian government is not realizing nothing from it but all goes to them and this was thousands of containers and millions of logs all exported to overseas by them,” the source further disclosed.

“From March to April 2022, many tons of timbers were not under the control of the Forestry Department but under the Head of State Adama Barrow because hundreds of containers loading taking off from the ports in Banjul to the ship, that ship was in the big sea and was loaded until it was filled up and departed then was left from there.”

Source pointed out that the Forestry Department has no say in the timber trade because they are sidelined due to the fact that huge money is involved in the business which is a hard currency for that matter.

The source claimed that the “Forestry Department was not even involved to supervise to see whether it is wrong or right as they were totally exempted from it till date.”

According to the Source, the Department of Forestry makes revenue whenever the ban is lifted, but when they want to play their dubious act, they will ban the trade.

“When they say is open people can export, it will be coming like 10-20 but when they say it is banned no export, then it becomes hundreds and thousands at a go because that goes directly into their pockets,” the source explained said when it is open the revenue goes into the government’s coffer that is the Forestry’s coffer.

Forestry collects revenue but when it is banned, forestry has no right to collect revenue. They do that to play cards so that they fill their pockets.

“It is just recently when it is open and the lisense was given to their favorites which is totally wrong because when the timber business was starting in the Gambia under ex-President Yahya Jammeh, the Department of Forestry put regulations in place by producing correct papers, reliable documents without that you will not allow to export.

“But by the time when these African hungry presidents realized that there is money in it and hard currency for that matter involved, they elbowed out the Forestry Department and take them out from the system. They give it to their political appointees which are the Ministers. The Ministers are responsible for everything because they are their drivers,” the source alleged.

“As we are right now, from January to date, the Department of Forestry is not operating because they have no money to operate and there is no money in the National Forestry Funds the NFF is totally empty up till date.

“How can they work? How can they execute their work above all when they (politicians) are there to dominate them in their activity because of the big money that is there? Nothing goes to the Department of Forestry as revenue, nothing goes as revenue to the Gambians but all goes to their individual Bank Accounts and their individual pockets this is the reality on the ground. This bad governance is really making the Gambia become poorer and poorer and deteriorate,” our source divulged.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11385 Posts

Posted - 04 Jul 2022 :  15:24:14  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Minister says Barrow not involved in illegal timber trade
The Standard: JULY 4, 2022

By Omar Bah

The minister of natural resources Rohey John Manjang has denied a report linking President Adama Barrow and some senior government officials to illegal timber trade.

The Gambia government issued a statement on Friday announcing the permanent revocation of all timber export and re-export permits.

The development comes hours after government spokesperson refuted an article published by The Voice newspaper which alleged that President Barrow is involved in the trade.

Reacting to allegations in a statement sent to The Standard yesterday, Minister Manjang said the “allegation is totally false and intended to tarnish President Barrow’s reputation”.

She said the president has given her ministry the full assurance and support to ban the illegal timber trading which has been causing political instability between The Gambia and Senegal.

“So, it is erroneous for anyone to claim that the president will in turn support or engage in timber trading. That is completely untrue,” she said.

Minister Manjang said the ministry is committed to ensure that the ban on the trade is fully implemented.

“We urge all relevant stakeholders within the natural resources sector and the general public to support us to achieve this important milestone. We will also engage district authorities and governors to ensure full enforcement of the ban,” she assured.

“The felling and or import of Pterocarpus erinaceus locally known as keno is banned; the felling of Cordyla africana, locally known as wulakonoduto, dimba or wild mango is banned. All timber cleared for import by the Department of Forestry, must have complete and duly certified import documentation including bills of lading showing proof of transport, as well as customs entries for every border it crossed before entering The Gambia, to avoid its forfeiture to the state upon arrival.”

It said timber for domestic use could be transported within The Gambia provided the carriers have authentic permits for household use duly issued by the Department of Forestry.

“With these new rules, The Gambia Ports Authority is hereby instructed to refuse loading for timber logs unto any vessel for export or re-export. Both Gambia Revenue Authority and GPA shall commence the scanning of containers for export and the owners of any containers found with timber logs shall face the fullest penalties according to law,” the government release stated.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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