Gambia frees former senior officials, including ex-oil minister accused of graft

Gambian authorities have freed nine former senior officials of the former government, who were accused of corruption and economic crimes by the former president, Yahya Jammeh.

Former oil minister, Sira Wally Ndow, Cabinet Secretary Nuha Touray, Solicitor General Cherno Marenah and ex-oil Permanent Secretary Muntaga Sallah were among the nine people, whose charges were dropped by the Justice Department.

Jammeh accused the officials of going to an oil contract of US$12 million with a fake company in the Gulf city of Dubai. A research on the company, March Petroleum shows that the oil trading entity was legally established in the United Arab Emirates.

Judicial and oil ministry sources leaked documents showing that the accused were not guilty as stated by the former autocratic ruler, who vowed to imprison them.

In March, corruption and abuse of office charges against some two dozen former senior and junior officials were also dropped by state prosecutors.

Jammeh had accused the officials of unlawfully auctioning government vehicles at a devalued prices causing the government to lose thousands of dollars in revenue.

The former president stands accused of siphoning billions and emptying state coffers before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea, where is was given a safe haven by President Theodore Obiang.

A recent photo of the Obiang and Jammeh, who are also neighbors in the Washington suburb of Potomac, emerged. It shows Jammeh and Obiang on a farm in Equatorial Guinea, where he is now farming.

Jammeh had planned to retire on his farm in his home village of Kanilai before he was forced to flee the country for refusing to cede power to the winner of the elections, Adama Barrow.

Jammeh is accused of human rights abuses and Gambian authorities are set to probe his finances and businesses in the coming months. Barrow promised to set a truth and reconciliation commission to unite the divided country.

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