Gambia: AG Explains U.S.$200,000 Honorarium Payment

21 April 2021

The Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Gambia Dawda Jallow says honorariums are legitimate payments in The Gambia, while reiterating that the $200,000 was a bulk payment of 18 month arrears OIC owed to the Gambian team working on the Myanmar case.

The AG told West Coast Radio on Tuesday that there is a misconception on the whole saga.

"Honorariums are legitimate payments in the Gambia, even in government up to today as we speak, people are being paid honorarium, people go to workshops and seminars and they receive honorariums, they don't return them.

The minister explained that the amount was increased to $200,000 because the Gambian team working on the case had not received its allowances for over 18 months.

"For the last 18 months, the Gambia team has been working, because the member countries to the special account have not been forthcoming as expected, so the home team decided to delay their own allowances.

"So after 18 months of work, this is the first payment that is released in bulk, it's basically like a payment of arrears."

The Ministry Justice has been accused of sharing the allowances among a few members, but the minister said the allowances are attached to positions and not individuals.

According to the Justice Minister, it is only the Attorney General, the Solicitor General and a few other legal team members who are eligible for the allowance.

"In this case, the Attorney General is the agent, the Solicitor General is the co-agent. They are supported by two or three other lawyers; one locally, one the Gambian lawyer working at the Gambian mission, so that is how it is."

He clarified that his predecessor was only given an allowance for the period which he worked just like the former Solicitor General.

Jallow said he is also being paid for the period he has worked; so do the current Solicitor General and the two local lawyers.

According to him, the team in The Gambia works closely with the law firm handling the case, saying the Gambia as the instructing country needs to approve all the arguments and review them as well. He said this involved reviewing voluminous work amounting to thousands of pages that require days and weeks' work.

Meanwhile AG Jallow said they got the approval of the Executive after making it clear that the allowances are paid by the OIC.

He claimed the President did not object to the payment so long as they are from OIC, adding that he equally consulted the Accountant General on the way such payments are made.

He clarified that monies were never sent through the government accounts as OIC paid directly to the people they wanted to pay.

According to the Minister, OIC has already paid over a million dollars which could be increased as the case is still ongoing. He said the current bill stands at 6 million.

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