Justice Amadi overrules ex-agric officers’ objection
Friday, June 01, 2012
Justice Amadi at the Brikama High Court Thursday overruled an objection made by a team of defence counsel in the ongoing multiple economic crime charges filed in by the state against six top former officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and a local businessman called Momodou Ceesay, alleged to have been responsible for importation of the poor quality fertilizer in issue.
The Brikama High Court Judge made the decision after going through the whole spirit of objection submitted by the team of defence counsel including LS Camara, Sheriff Tambedou, Ida Drammeh and Borry Touray with regards to application made by the state counsel Simon Abi to tender and admit in evidence a document alleged to have been authored by Dr Mustapha Ceesay, deputy director of NARI.
Justice Amadi made an extensive review of the submissions made by each of the defence counsel representing their various clients and later ruled that the defence objection is misconceived and unreasonable, hence the court overruled them, tendered the document in question and marked it as Exhibit 2.
According to Justice Amadi, LS Camara argued among others that, the document sort to be tendered was not authored by the witness PW1 Alphu Marong, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture.said Lawyer Ida Drammeh also cited similar line of argument and backed up her submission with different sections of the Evidence Act with respect to admission of documents, especially primary and secondary documents.
Amadi cited Borry Touray as arguing the document not being sealed, while
Tambedou associated himself with submission of others.Ruling on the matter, Justice Amadiobserved among others that, a document
within the custody of a public place can be tendered through any person deemed
to be the custodian of such a document.
He added that secondary document could certified to be tendered in evidence in line with Section 1105 of the Evidence Act, hence a proper foundation has been laid for tendering of the document in issue. He therefore overruled objection of the defence and described it a misconceived and unreasonable.
This paved the way for Marong to remount the witness box, where he responded to a lone question posed to him by the state counsel, Simon Abi as to whether he [Marong] took any action after writing exhibit one (a replied letter to Dr Mustapha Ceesay, deputy director of NARI).He said he could not take any further action to that effect as he was removed from office immediately after writing the said replied letter.
“My lord, I was dismissed from the office soonest after I wrote the replied letter to Dr Mustapha Ceesay , deputy director of NARI,” Marong explained and later responded to series of cross-examination questions posed to him by Sheriff Tambedou, counsel for the fifth accused, Dr Mustapha Ceesay. According to him, he is a 62-year-old agronomic scientist and major in plant breathing and experimental statistics.
Marong said he has knowledge about rice cultivation and rice falls under cereal crops. About how cereal crops are grown in The Gambia, Marong said they early millet, late millet, Sorghum, maize and a local cereal called Findi among others. He said groundnut falls under grain legume and is an early crop; but he said rice planting in the Gambia depends on rain pattern and that fertilizer aids the growth of a crop. According to him, there are different types of fertilizers, but the fertilizer used on crops may not be used on a groundnut in line with agronomic science.
agronomic scientist added that, urea fertilizer contained nitrogen and there is
a time for application of fertilizer on crops. He
recommended soil moisture as the ideal time for groundnut cultivation, but with
what he called the erratic rains he could not predict the exact time for
Still adducing his evidence under cross-examination, Marong said, a plant goes through different growth stages such as seedling, vegetative, reproduction and ripening stages, but fertilizer application could be better and effective immediately after the plant established, meaning after the germination stage.
He accepted 15 x 15 being an NPK fertilizer, but he said he has no idea whether 6x20x10 is called groundnut fertilizer, all he knows is that it is good for groundnut and rice growth, because it is a compound fertilizer. According to him, he only conducted a demonstration on the imported fertilizer in issue, not a test as suggested by the defence counsel Sheriff Tambedou.
Author: Sanna Jawara