Hennie van Vuuren | Khadija Sharife | Mark Anderson
Yahya Jammeh once said he would rule the Gambia for “one billion years”. His rule proved somewhat shorter — he lost the presidential elections in 2017 after 22 years in power.
Since then, a massive clean-up of Gambian institutions has begun. But the cost of his rule has been dear.
It will be generations before Gambians can fully recover. His was a dictatorship, in which the currency of power was his alone, but the profiteering was happily assisted by an assortment of nefarious characters.
Through the army, led by General Sulayman Badjie and Jammeh’s own private mercenaries, the Jungulars, he ruled by torturing and imprisoning political opponents and human rights activists, murdering journalists and depriving and dispossessing citizens of their right to exist.
This week, a six-month investigation by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), titled Gambia’s Great Heist, has revealed how, with the aid of people like an alleged Hezbollah financier Mohammed Bazzi, at least $1-billion was siphoned from the country.
But buried within the thousands of documents obtained by the project documenting Jammeh’s 22-year rule lies another integral but hidden roleplayer: Western bankers.