Bombshell: Gunjur Alkalo admits Chinese bribery, as environmental scandal festers
Photo: Alikalo of Gunjur, Alhagie Giki Darboe
The Alkalo of Gunjur, Alhagie Giki Darboe, has admitted receiving bribery money from the Chinese company - Golden Lead which he handed over to the Village Development Committee (VDC) after he was gripped by fear of a scandal.
The revelations came following the commencement of legal action against Golden Lead, a Chinese Fishmeal processing company accused of "extensive" environmental damage in the coastal town of Gunjur. The defendants were initially sued by the National Environment Agency only to admit liability after a secret, out of court settlement with the government. In a video interview with Lamin Cham, the embattled leader of the third largest town in The Gambia disclosed: "I personally was handed D100K by the Chinese but given my position as village head, I handed the money to VDC because if I did not do that, people may end up saying that the house I am currently building was sponsored by the Chinese company. "When I was running my business in Brikama, nobody had given me that sort of gift . I feel the Chinese gave me that by virtue of my position and influence as the head of the village". Alhagie Giki Darboe, who was a prominent businessman in Brikama before returning to his native Gunjur to serve as village head, also admitted receiving money from British- Lebanese businessman Muhammed Bazzi who had close business ties with erstwhile President of The Gambia, Yaha Jammeh .
"The sand mining company (Muhammad Bazzi) also gave me and my entourage the amount of D100K when we visited him. I handed the money to the VDC instead of sharing it between my entourage". This medium has earlier reported that the Majority leader and Member of Parliament for Kombo South, Hon. Kebba K Barrow, had taken money from the Chinese company to finance his campaign which elicited a public outburst threatening the reporter's family. Meanwhile, reports have it that a general meeting is being called in Gunjur to rally support for the Chinese company and undermine the ongoing legal case at the high court filed by Environmentalists and Gunjurians in the diaspora. This follows the reinstatement of the former Chief, Lamin Darboe, who replaced Ajay Janneh. Ajay is also said to have received in excess of D100K from the Chinese company, Golden Lead.
In related development, this medium has also been reliably informed that Golden Lead Company and their partners are planning and have pledged to develop the Nyamina Football Grounds with a view to garner support within the youth population widely seen as the group likely to resist and campaign against the substantial environmental degradation the company stand accused of. This latest move is seen as another ploy to bribe and divert attention from the legal action filed against the company.
Photo: Gunjur Nyamina Football Grounds
Reacting to this new development, Human rights activist and former minister of Information who was sentenced to life in prison by former president Yaya Jammeh for attempting to organise peaceful protests for regime change, Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, lamented:
"The fact that Golden Lead constructed a new structure on the beach while this crisis is on shows lack of good faith. They must reverse that and agree to our ten-point demands before this problem can be resolved".
New structure being erected by Golden Lead Company at Gunjur Beach