Defence Ends Cross-Examination of 5th Witness in Muntaga Sallah’s Trial

Defence Ends Cross-Examination of 5th Witness in Muntaga Sallah’s Trial

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Lawyer Loubna Farage, the defence counsel of Muntaga Sallah, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum yesterday ended the cross-examination of Momodou OS Badjie, former Managing Director of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation as fifth prosecution witness in a two-count charge trial Sallah is battling before Principal Magistrate Omar Cham of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

Under cross-examination, Badjie said he remember once saying that  the Ministry of Petroleum should follow the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) rules in doing any purchase. He said approval for purchases are normally made by the Office of the President when there is no sitting minister for the ministry.

Badjie identified the minutes of meeting held between the Ministry of Petroleum, Gambia National Petroleum Corporation and CAMAC Energy Gambia limited, which was dated 6th and 19th November, 2014. Defence counsel Farage then applied to tender the meeting minutes in evidence as an exhibit which was marked as exhibit DE2 without objection from the police prosecutor F Jallow.

The former GNPC boss said in exhibit DE2, he has stated that since CAMAC Energy is managing the funds, it would be best if they (CAMAC) could go ahead with the purchasing according to the submitted specification and for them to work according to CAMAC procurement guidelines.

Badjie maintained that he did not remember attending a meeting where the issue of workstation was discussed after the 6th and 19th November, 2014 meeting and he cannot also remember if there was a sitting minister for Petroleum in November 2014.

He said he is aware that the Commissioner of Petroleum can convey approved purchases but he cannot approve by himself, saying he (Badjie) is not familiar with the detailed licence between the Government and CAMAC Energy.

According to him, the training and resource funds are jointly managed by CAMAC and the Ministry of Petroleum but both of them have to agree first in any purchasing and approved by the ministry.

When defence counsel Farage put to him that CAMAC Energy is the sole account holder of those funds, Badjie maintained that they are the account holder but the funds were not there.

She also put it to him that those funds emanated from CAMAC and managed by them but Badjie said the licence stated that CAMAC has to annually provide US$ 100, 000 to the Government of the Gambia but said he is not sure about the figure.

Badjie revealed that according to the licence, CAMAC have to provide whatever is due to Government of The Gambia.

When asked if the Government of The Gambia was going to lose its money if it decided to terminate CAMAC’s licence, Badjie responded that he did not have the said licence and that all the licences are not the same.

Muntaga is standing trial for purchasing three HP computers worth $25, 445 which he later allegedly stole and took to his home at Senegambia, while serving as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum.

The prosecution further alleges that the accused person has stolen three HP computers worth $25, 445, which he knew belonged to The Gambia Government.

Sallah is also facing charge of abusing his office, when he instructed, without approval, the purchase of the computers, all in the month of November, 2014 in Banjul.

He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

by Lama S Jallow