Imagine being asked to write a report on the assets your Ministry owns, and when you write true account of it, you get arrested because you were not supposed to state the facts – no, this is not a comedy script, and yes; indeed this happened in the Gambia.
So what happened? Ebou Mass Mbye, a 30-year veteran of the Ministry of Fisheries was arrested and taken to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) last week for writing a report that said the Ministry owns 85 fishing trawlers. This is because the Director of the Ministry said he saw only 30 trawlers. So where are the rest of the boats? One would assume that instead of arresting an innocent man, a finding would be made as to whether 85 trawlers actually exist or whether Mr. Mbye is just inflating the numbers. What interest Mbye will have in inflating the numbers we don’t know, but we can safely say that there are fishing trawlers being used by the navy that are raking in millions of dollars a year, all of which go into President Yahya Jammeh’s account, when those boats were donated to the Gambia government. Could these be the trawlers the Director is not accounting for?
It could be recalled that few weeks ago, reports were made by the Gambia government in which it among other things accusations against a former Naval Officer, Momodou Badjie of embezzling funds belonging to the navy and urging the public to provide any information regarding his whereabouts. Turns out, Badjie had already absconded safely to Senegal. Upon further investigation, Fatu Network uncovered a scheme in which Jammeh had for years forced Lieutenant Badjie and his junior officers to go fishing, using the donated boats that he at that point claim as his, paid them with tax payer money, and putting the proceeds in his (Jammeh’s) own account. These funds are what the government claims are stolen – obviously, the truth is a whole different story. Other Navy staffs have since been arrested too.
In the meantime, Mass Mbye was taken to court on Thursday, March 24, 2016, bail was set at D2,000,000.00 ($50,000) against which he put up his home and was released on Friday. He is expected to report back to court this Tuesday, March 29.
Fatu Network will continue the monitoring of the case, especially as it relates to the ongoing arrests at the Navy.