Sub-Inspector Yerro Saidy, the first prosecution witness in the 32-count charge against Ebrima Jawara, son of Gambia’s former president, and three other former officials of the Ministry of Agriculture Tuesday continued to give evidence before Justice E O Dada of the High Court in Banjul.
Responding to questions from lawyer Mene, defence counsel for the 1st accused person, Saidy revealed that he was not the head of the investigative panel, saying there was a 6 member panel of investigators headed by the then Assistant Superintendent Ceesay.
He said at the completion of the investigation, they attached the report to the case file and send it to the Attorney General’s chamber for legal advice. He said did not receive the said document from the AG Chambers yet.
According to him, the 1st accused person was interviewed twice and the first interview was in the presence of the panel while in the others, he was interviewed in the presence of an independent witness and his lawyer Drammeh.
Saidy said it is not up to his knowledge and he cannot also remember if the panel have ascertained the date the 1st accused person assumed responsibility as project coordinator after his appointment on 26th October 2010, saying he understands that it is customary for handing over to happen in that circumstance.
Sub-Inspector Saidy outlined that he think it was necessary for the panel to ascertain the various times the 1st and 2nd accused persons held the position of project coordinator to determine who is responsible for what.
He also told the court that all the accused persons claimed that the allowances were all approved by the project steering committee but they (the investigators) could not confirm that due to the absence of the committee members at the time of the investigation.
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.
The prosecution alleged that the three accused persons sometime between the months of April, 2008 and December, 2010 at Cape Point, while serving as project staff in the Rural Finance Project (RFP), wilfully and recklessly caused financial loss to the Government of The Gambia in various sums by allocating to themselves, unauthorised extra responsibility allowances outside the payroll and out of pocket expenses.
It is also alleged that between the same period and place, they wilfully and recklessly caused financial loss to the Government of The Gambia in various sums by approving payments without sufficient supporting documents and awarding contract without following procurement procedures laid down in The Gambia Public Procurement Act.
The three are further alleged to have approved payment of unauthorised extra responsibility allowances to the project staff without authority and also awarded contracts without due process of competitive bidding while serving as project staff in the Rural Finance Project (RFP), which act is prejudicial to the right of the general public.
The prosecution further alleged that the three jointly and severally approved payment of monthly fuel allowance to project staff beyond approved limit of the project steering committee and also approved the payment of tuition fee of Morro Lamin Bah and Agie Conteh, who were non-project staff without the approval of project steering committee.
On the charges of conspiracy to defraud and destroying evidence, the 1st and 4th accused persons are said to have between the period of November 2010 and December 2015, at Cape Point and diverse places, conspired to defraud and destroy evidence in the Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), a project under the Ministry of Agriculture and by wilfully destroying fuel log book and other relevant documents that may be used against them in any legal proceeding.
The case is adjourned to 14th November 2016 for continuation of cross-examination.
by Fatou Sowe