By Yankuba Jallow & Nelson Manneh
Assistant Superintendent Domingo Mbemba of the Gambia Police Force, has told the Banjul High Court that ‘‘you cannot ask a stranger to do strange things’’. Domingo Mbemba said this during the trial involving 9 former Intelligence Chiefs, on Monday 18th December 2017, under cross-examined by Lawyer Patrick Gomez, the lawyer for the Second accused person, Louis Gomez.
The sixth prosecution witness (PW6), ASP Mbemba in his evidence in chief, told the High Court, presided over by Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara, that he is a resident of Churchills Town and is currently attached to the Major Crimes Unit at the Police Headquarters in Banjul; that he has served the Police Force for over 3 years now and at the time of his enrolment in the Force, he was a Cadet Assistant Superintendent.
Continuing his evidence in Chief, ASP Mbemba told the Court that on the 14th day of April 2017, he was at the Police Headquarters in Banjul on active duty; that he was instructed by the Crime Management Coordinator, Baboucar S. Sarr, to form a panel; that the purpose of the panel was to obtain statements from UDP members.
He told the court that the composition of the panel included himself, ASP Sarjo Bah, Sergeant Alhajie Manneh, Corporal Fatoumata Bah, First Class Constable Dodou Joof and Constable Lamin Cham; that they (the panel) were asked to go to the headquarters of the National Intelligence Agency in Banjul, to obtain statements from UDP members; that upon arrival at the NIA Headquarters, they (the panel) were escorted to the NIA Conference Hall; that a few moments later, whilst they were inside the Conference Hall, they started background check and screening of the detainees. He said he was called by the Deputy Director General who told him (PW6) that he should return to Police Headquarters and whenever they were needed, they will be informed. “I went back to the police headquarters with my team”, ASP Mbemba said. “I only made two visits at the NIA Headquarters and I cannot say much about the premises of the place”, he further told the court.
“I cannot identify the Deputy Director General of the NIA because it was my first meeting with him and I never knew him before and I cannot say much about him because I have not seen him since then”, he said.
Lawyer Antouman AB Gaye for the State asked the witness how he knew that the person he met was the Deputy Director General of NIA.
“I know he was the Deputy Director General of the NIA because when we reached the NIA headquarters, he introduced himself to us “, the witness responded.
“We were never called back and we never obtained the statements from the UDP members and we did not do any background check and screening. It was only the NIA officers who did the screening and checking” ASP Mbemba said.
He said ‘‘at the time of the screening, the NIA officials had in their possession, forms that they were filling and questioning the arrestees’’.
During cross-examination by Lawyer Christine E. Mene, counsel for the first accused person, ASP Mbemba told the Court that he was part of the prosecution witness who gave testimony in one of the cases involving UDP members. Lawyer Mene told him that his evidence and that of others, led to the conviction of the UDP members but the witness refused the claim, adding that he was not responsible for their subsequent conviction. The witness also concurred with Lawyer Mene’s statement that he went to the NIA headquarters on official duties and not personal.
He further agreed with Lawyer Mene’s contention that it is usual practice for the NIA and the police to collaborate. The witness added ‘‘we do have joint collaboration in investigation’’. He averred that he was not surprised at the time of going to the NIA headquarters because they have had joint investigations together.
Still under cross-examination, Lawyer Patrick Gomez lawyer for the second accused person asked the witness whether he has signed any document at the NIA to indicate his presence, but the witness responded in the negative, adding that the police have been going to the NIA headquarters without signing any document.
He told the Court that there is a video that can serve as evidence that they were at the NIA headquarters’ Conference hall.
“What is in the video that indicate that it was at the NIA headquarters and was there any signboard indicating that it was at the NIA head office?” asked Lawyer Gomez.
The witness replied that any person who knows the NIA will know that the video was at the NIA headquarters.
The witness responded to Lawyer Jobe’s question that he could not remember whether the man was with an identification number; that at that point in time, an ordinary person cannot just come and join them in the NIA Conference Hall.
Lawyer Gomez told him that he did not know the man he spoke to and also he never spoke to the Deputy Director of NIA. The witness said “I knew the moment I spoke to the Deputy Director NIA.”
“You cannot introduce yourself to me in a minute and the next ten minutes I cannot identify you”, ASP Mbemba concluded.
Lawyer Ibrahim Jallow for the third accused person in his cross examination asked the witness if his evidence was the truth since he cannot identify the person he spoke to and could not remember many of the things they ask him in court. The witness said all he said was what happened.
The case was adjourned till today Tuesday 19th December 2017, at 12 noon for cross-examination of PW5 and PW6 by the Lawyer for the sixth accused person who was absent in court.