Gambia’s Former President Yahya Jammeh seceded hundreds of hectares of state land to his business associates, who were operating companies he had stakes in.
Jammeh used executive directives to forcefully take over the lands, including those owned by state enterprise, reserved for future projects.
According to the Gambia Ports Authority, the entity in charge of the Port of Banjul, the former president seized some of their plots worth at least $462,000 (D18.46 million dalasis) and refused to pay for them.
Jammeh had used executive directives to give the plots of his business partner Muhammad Bassi to use as sites for the Gambia Milling Corporation, a company he had vested interest in.
In February, workers at the milling corporation decried and protest what they said were inhumane working conditions. At least eight workers were fired and tens giving warnings.
The Gambia Milling Corporation started operating in 2013 and is in the business of milling, producing and processing of flour and other derivative products, such as bran and animal feed from the milling of wheat and other cereal.
The country has a fairly open foreign investment system, but serious government corruption and human rights issues hinder investment inflows during Jammeh’s rule.
Jammeh, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994, won his fourth term in 2011 in flawed elections but faced a united opposition that defeated him last year.
Protection of property rights is weak. There are multiple overlapping land tenure systems, and many properties are subject to expropriation by the government. Jammeh exploited these loopholes to the disadvantage of his citizens and businesses he was not part of.
The new government of Adama Barrow, which replaced Jammeh’s regime is planning on establishing an anti-corruption agency and anti-corruption campaigners are urging lawmakers to pass a bill that will stem out regulatory abuses by government officials.
Gambian authorities froze Jammeh’s assets seizing at least 180 landed properties, 95 bank accounts and 21 companies belonging to Mr. Jammeh.
The Barrow administration has accused Jammeh of massive fraud including siphoning off public money during his 22-year rule that ended in election defeat and disgraced exile in Equatorial Guinea in January.