Police Sub-Inspector Yerro Saidy, the first prosecution witness in the 32-count charge trial against Ebrima Jawara, son of Gambia’s former president and three other former officials of the Ministry of Agriculture yesterday continued testimony before Justice E O Dada of the High Court in Banjul.
Jawara is jointly and severally charged alongside Alasan Bah, Sulayman Manneh and Hassan Jallow, with offences ranging from 13 counts of economic crime, 6 charges of abuse of office, 6 counts of neglect of official duty, disobedience of statutory duty, stealing, conspiracy and destroying evidence.
When the matter came up in yesterday’s sitting, Officer Saidy told the court that investigation of the case was based on an audit report that was received from the National Audit Office, adding that during the investigation the accused persons were questioned based on the queries in the audit report.
He said the investigators found that the 2nd accused person Alasan Bah (former project coordinator) had received advanced fuel allocation amounting to D100, 500, saying he was dismissed on 26th October 2010 but failed to hand over the whole amount. He said Bah only handed over D19, 500 to the 1st accused Ebrima Jawara, who was his successor.
Sub-Inspector Saidy further revealed that they also discovered that the 1st accused person had paid tuition fees for non-project staff, saying one of them was found to be his (Jawara) nephew. He said payment of responsibility allowances were made out of the payroll and the vouchers and those were recovered during the investigation.
Saidy said they (investigators) had also found that payments were made on private line expenses which were not part of the project. He added that in The Gambia Government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) work plan budget, an amount of D3, 640, 532.00 was allocated for fuel which he said was meant for trekking and support to the Department of Agriculture generators but investigators found that the money was given to project staff and D130, 000 was allocated to the project coordinator as his monthly fuel. He said the 1st and 2nd accused persons benefitted from this as they held the position.
The witness disclosed that the 3rd accused person Sulayman Manneh, who he said was the project accountant, had received D80, 000 as monthly fuel. He further disclosed that during the investigation the accused persons claimed that the approvals were done by the project steering committee.
During cross-examination by Lawyer Mene, defence for the 1st accused person, Officer Saidy told the court that he was part of the panel that investigated the case based on an audit report they received through the office of the Inspector General of Police.
According to him, they wrote a police report at the end of the investigation in which they outlined findings which include those he mentioned in his oral evidence.
Justice Dada then adjourned the matter to today, 18th October 2016. On the request of the defence, the witness was ordered to provide the report he mentioned in his evidence-in-chief.
by Fatou Sowe