By Mamadou Dem
As the first defence witness (DW1), Mr. OusmanDrammeh, President of Gambia Transport, Food and Agriculture Industrial Workers Union, yesterday, 20 January, 2016 continued to be cross examined by the prosecution in his false information trial before Magistrate Nche Blessed of the lower court in Banjul.
Police prosecutor Sub Inspector (SI) Alpha Badjie asked the witness whether the documents in his hands were the by-laws he was talking about. He responded in the positive, adding that the originals have been sent to the National Assembly.
At this juncture, police prosecutor Badjie applied to tender the said two documents in evidence as exhibits which were admitted and marked accordingly without objection from the defence counsel, Sheriff M. Tambadou.
Dw1 told the court that the national rules and regulations of their union were made by the general membership but was signed and stamped on their behalf. He said being the president of the union, he and the secretary usually sign and endorse documents from the union except those on financial transactions.
“Can you tell the court what mandated you to create rules and regulations as the President of the union?” asked Badjie, but before the witness responded, lawyer Tambadou interjected and argued that his client never claimed that he made the rules and regulations.
“Do you also have rules and regulations for Kanifing Municipal Council?” asked the police prosecutor. “No”, responded Mr Drammeh.
“Why?” “Because the Kanifing Municipality was supposed to operate in accordance with the national regulations”.
“Therefore, West Coast Region is exempted from operating the national regulations?” asked Badjie. The witness responded that the movement and operations of commercial vehicles within West Coast Region havebeen experiencing constant problems, adding that the rules and regulations were made in the presence of the then governor of the region and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Brikama area council so as to address the perennial problems.
“They are not exempted but they have their own rules,” said Mr. Drammeh.
When asked by the prosecutor to give reasons why the governor and CEO did not sign on the rules and regulations, the president said: “This was a union document and was only supposed to be signed by a union representative. The union as a worker organisation derives its authority from The Gambia Labour Act 2007 that elaborates on the formulation of committees and by-laws. Union documents are meant for union members only.”
Mr. Drammeh disagreed with the position of the prosecution that transport matters within the Kanifing Municipality are entirely under the purview of Gambia National Transport Control Association (GNTCA) since his (Drammeh) union has never had any agreement with the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC). “I was selected into transport work by drivers within KM. Infact, I introduced the GNTCA in the municipality and I was the first secretary,” he told the court.
The witness further said that unions have never had agreements with municipal or area councils.
“On the 20 March 2009, the KMC signed an MOU with GNTCA,” said the prosecutor. “I’m not aware,” responded DW1.
“When did you introduce the association to KMC?” “When I was secretary of the association I had series of meetings that concerns the municipality,” said Drammeh.
“How did you introduce the association to KMC?” asked the prosecutor. “I met the then Mayor Abdoulie Conteh and CEO Mustapha Njie to inform them about the establishment of a transport workers organisation in their jurisdiction in 1997,” he responded.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to February 3rd, 2016 for continuation of cross-examination by the prosecution.
It could be recalled that Mr. Drammeh is standing trial on a single count charge for allegedly giving false information to the office of the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, contrary to the laws of The Gambia.
Mr. Drammeh is alleged to have written a petition alleging that Mumini Sey, the current president of GNTCA and Sheriff Dibba, the secretary general of GNTCA, have connived with some senior police officers to forcefully remove the late Fillijeh Nyassi as the president of the association and that the president (Sey) was engaged in financial misappropriation and preference of foreign trucks over Gambian own trucks, being information which the prosecution believed are unfounded and misleading.
He, however, denied the charge and was granted bail by the court in the sum of D200, 000 with one Gambian surety.