By Mustapha K Darboe
Officials of the Ministry of Agriculture have prevented a private businessman from transporting unspecified number of bags of spoilt fertilizer from Government stores to Senegal.
The permanent secretary of agriculture, Lamin Camara, who intercepted the fertilizer told Kerr Fatou they have found a truck loading the spoilt fertilizer on July 2 at a store at Saro.
“We are distributing fertilizer at this time and I cannot be comfortable with someone telling me he is taking it (expired fertiliser) to Senegal. The person could bring it back (to Gambia). But why even Senegal? It is an expired fertilizer,” PS Camara told Kerr Fatou.
This stock of fertilizer in question is subject of an inquiry into a contract between one Modou Dibba, a store owner at Serrekunda Market, and agriculture officials since 2018.
Dibba was contracted by agricultural officials to dispose of the fertilizer against the advice of the National Environment Agency which asked for it to be tested in Senegal to determine its mode of disposal.
PS Camara said he did not know who gave Dibba the key to the warehouse. Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Gambia Groundnut Corporation, Anthony Carvalho, has told Kerr Fatou that the key to the warehouse where the expired fertilizer is kept is with the Agriculture Ministry.
“We have nothing to do with the store,” said Carvalho.
This medium visited the agriculture ministry but Permanent Secretary Hassan Jallow and Minister Amie Fabureh were not in office, according to the minister’s secretary.
The fertilizer story was broken by Kerr Fatou in 2018 and the Justice Ministry in February 2019 asked the police to charge 3 top former agriculture officials.
Former permanent secretary (PS), Sait Drammeh and current PS Hassan Jallow and Ismaila Bojang, a procurement officer were charged with neglect of official duty and conspiracy to commit misdemeanour. Both Bojang and Jallow are working at their usual positions at the Ministry.
However, Drammeh is currently working as Managing Director of Gach Company Limited.
Obstruction of justice?
Since February 2019, the Justice Ministry has asked the police to charge Drammeh, Jallow and Bojang.
A highly placed source at the police prosecution unit have told Kerr Fatou on Wednesday that the 3 officials were already charged and informed about their charges.
However, each time the police prosecution team prepares to take the case to court for prosecution, a senior police officer would asked for them to wait.
Frustrated, the police prosecution team reportedly have now returned the file to the Justice Ministry.
“There are some senior officers who want the matter to be prosecuted but there are some who do not want it…,” said our source.
Kerr Fatou visited the office of the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou but he was not in. However, a Justice Ministry official told Kerr Fatou that they have not received any returned file from the police and as far as they are concern, they have advised prosecution of the agric 3.