by editor | July 25, 2017 1:07 am
By EBRIMA G. SANKAREH, Editor-in-Chief
“Mr. Sankareh, news of my dining with the former Gambian First Lady, Zeineb Jammeh, in a lush Dakar restaurant and reports of my subsequent arrest, detention and questioning by Senegalese police came as a big shock but news of the malicious story didn’t surprise me at all as am aware of people continuously out to malign and tarnish my image’. So began Gambian businessman Amadou Samba, who categorically denies as ‘utter false, news of his arrest by Senegalese Police.”
The exclusive hour-long telephone interview with Mr. Samba currently in Dakar, follows widespread press reports that first alleged the presence in Dakar, Senegal, of former Gambian despot Yaya Jammeh’s wife, Moroccan born, Zeineb Suma Jammeh, in the company of businessman Amadou Samba and subsequent reports today of Samba’s apprehension by Senegalese police.
Ex-First Lady, Zeineb Jammeh
Ever since news of the high profile meeting with the woman most Gambians refer to as ‘gold digger’ first surfaced, The Gambia Echo has been investigating. Based on the veracity of Amadou Samba and Dakar Interpol, we can report without equivocation that neither meeting nor arrest is credible.
Sourcing our story with information gathered from a senior intelligence officer with almost two decades connections with this reporter, news of Zeineb Suma Jammeh’s presence in Dakar is simply astonishing. Our source who begged strongest anonymity, said the story ‘that Madame Jammeh could slip into Senegalese territory without notice, is simply absurd’. Elaborating further, our source revealed that as a former First Lady, there are certain protocols accorded and Zeineb Jammeh could not have entered Senegalese territory without the prior knowledge of the authorities. “I can assure you sir, that Madame Jammeh is not in Dakar, and according to our records, she has not been here in two years” he said.
Quizzed further as to the chances of Zeineb visiting Dakar and having meetings with Amadou Samba as alleged, our source said, that is probably fiction but doubts if Madame Jammeh in her right state of mind would venture into visiting Dakar under the prevailing security and political circumstances surrounding her husband’s exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Meanwhile, a highly agitated Amadou Samba, who minces no words in these latest reports against him, says “I am a free man. No police or security officer has ever called, questioned, arrested or interrogated me and I have nothing to hide.”
Reacting to the new wave of allegations as a Yaya Jammeh associate dining with the former First Lady, a profoundly irritated Samba charged, “it is absolutely unfounded and it is no person but Mr. Sidi Sanneh who for reasons best known to him, chooses to tarnish my image”.
Samba alleged that Mr. Sanneh, a famed Virginia-based Gambian blogger has also “in the height of The Gambia political impasse, concocted a malicious tale against me, by alleging that President Jammeh had refused to leave Gambia unless I returned with millions of his looted money knowing it to be entirely false”.
According to Samba, “Sidi Sanneh also alleged that I had maintained offshore accounts in Panama well over $900,000,000.00 (Nine Hundred Million $US) which a South African investigative journalist, who went to Panama, recently debunked as malicious lies”.
Asked if he had threatened Sidi Sanneh’s life over allegations of a Samba-Zeineb restaurant rendezvous, he gave a categorical No! “Mr. Sankareh, as you well know, I am a trained barrister and aware of the magnitude of threats. I would not and could never threaten any person for that matter, no matter what the circumstances are.”
But there are reports that you called Sidi Sanneh several times over this incident, I enquired. Samba replied: “Yes, I called and admonished him to stop the false information and character assassinations against my person but never threatened him and I assume anybody would have done the same thing.”
No sooner had the interview finished and I hung up the phone to write my story than an angry Amadou Samba rang up saying he had additional details to share.
According to Amadou Samba, following Yaya Jammeh’s defeat in the December polls and the subsequent impasse, Sidi Sanneh had wanted to come to Dakar to witness the unfolding drama but particularly to support Adama Barrow who had fled Gambian jurisdiction at the invitation of President Sall. Samba alleged that one Nyanya Darboe whose family is friends with Mr. Sanneh, pleaded with him, Samba, if he could generously buy a roundtrip airfare for Sanneh. Without hesitation, I bought him a ticket to Dakar. Continuing his allegations, Samba alleged that while in Dakar, Sanneh had wanted to interview him for his blog but he declined. According to Samba, “following this incident, Mr. Sanneh then began his widespread allegations that Jammeh wasn’t going to leave The Gambia unless I brought back his millions and then I had siphoned some nine hundred million dollars in an offshore account in Panama, South America”.
Asked if Sidi Sanneh really knew that he, Samba, bought the ticket as alleged or that Ms. Darboe, the interlocutor, had just wanted him to buy the ticket absent Mr. Sanneh’s foreknowledge? Amadou Samba alleged that “Sidi Sanneh was well aware of this transaction and this is all the more why I am confused that he is peddling these false stories against my very person knowing them to be baseless”.
“Am not malicious; I was threatened by both Samba and Sarr”—Sidi Sanneh tells Echo
Consistent with journalistic ethics, no sooner had I finished with Amadou Samba than I contacted Mr. Sidi Sanneh to clarify and respond to some of the allegations. On the phone line from the United States Mr. Sanneh was kind enough to grant us an interview.
Mr. Sidi Sanneh
Asked if he were driven by malice in his reports about Samba, he said no, instead, he was committed to Gambian affairs but not at all motivated by malice. “Amadou Samba must level up with the Gambian people”, Sanneh insists.
Responding to Samba’s denial of threatening his life, the Virginia-based blogger said: “I was threatened by both Samuel Sarr and Samba and I still have my recording…I’ve everything on paper. I have mitigating factors and can assure you, Ebrima, that I have it recorded”.
On Samba’s allegations that Sanneh had peddled false newspaper stories about the Panama Papers on his blogpost, he said it was entirely based on international media reports but he never elaborated on the story. “I just posted the bit with a graph and that was it” he explained.
On allegations that he bandied around the story that Jammeh refused to abdicate unless monies were returned to him by Samba, Sanneh said, “while I wrote the story, I never mentioned money and the story was well known at the time. Jammeh never mentioned money, he insisted that he wanted to see Samba and what for, I don’t really know! My story about Jammeh wanting to see Amadou has nothing to do with money.”
On allegations that Amadou Samba bought him a round trip air ticket to Dakar through one Nyanya Darboe, Sanneh confirmed it to be true but was quick to add that it was “based on services’ (he) “was going to provide to the businessman”. According to Sanneh, “I first interviewed Samba on the phone and posted on my BlogSpot while still in the US and when Nyanya’s business associates requested for another in-depth interview, I suggested that under those circumstances, Samba should get me a ticket to conduct business. That’s how Amadou ended up buying my ticket. However, once in Dakar, we could not have the second interview as planned because by the time I got to Senegal, Samba was into something else and could not be interviewed. He was with Samuel Sarr and other high profile Senegalese business and security personnel”, Sanneh alleged.
We finally shared with Mr. Sanneh that the story of Zeineb’s presence in Dakar as well as Samba’s reported arrest and questioning by Senegalese police have been found to be false. He assured me very strongly that it was not malicious but his very credible sources in Banjul sourced that story and he owes it to his country to do whatever it takes to restore normalcy and good governance.
As we went to press, a cross section of Senegalese media have begun to refute the presence of Madame Zeineb Jammeh in Dakar, a report that raised eyebrows among Gambian and Senegalese security in light of on-going reports of exiled Jammeh security loyalists pulling strings to destabilise The Gambia.
Source URL: http://thegambiaecho.com/i-have-never-been-arrested-amadou-samba-tells-the-gambia-echo-as-dakar-interpol-denies-ex-gambia-first-lady-zeineb-jammehs-senegal-presence/
Copyright ©2019 The Gambia Echo unless otherwise noted.