By Mamadou Dem
The Managing Director of Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC), Momodou O.S. Badjie yesterday testified against Muntaga Sallah, former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Petroleum.
Testifying as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5) before Principal Magistrate Momodou M.S. Jallow of the lower court in Banjul, Mr. Badjie told the court that he recognised the accused person as the former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum. He said in November 2014, they had one of their bi-weekly meetings at the CAMAC office and that those in attendance were himself, the accused person, the commissioner of petroleum, assistant commissioner of petroleum, deputy permanent secretary, the CAMAC country rep and Kanni Jobe, a Petroleum Engineer, amongst others.
According to the witness, in this particular meeting, issues of computers were discussed. He said the accused brought about the issue of three work stations. He (Badjie) said the three work stations were not necessary and suggested for their staff to be trained to enable them use the two work stations they had and also renew the software license.
“That was argued and one was proposed instead of three but in a subsequent meeting of the bi-weekly, the PS said they have decided to go in for the three instead of one that was the final discussion,” said the witness.
PW5 said what he can say is that in one of the meetings, CAMAC said they have paid the supplier, adding that he told them to write to the Ministry and inform them officially with a copy of the payment. He said he does not know whether the letter he suggested was eventually written.
Testifying further, Mr. Badjie told the court that they usually obtain training and resources and that the approval is usually from the Office of the President, adding that he does not know whether they received any approval regarding the work stations but that he understood that Mr. Sallah was the one that wrote to CAMAC requesting for payments for the three work stations.
“Is it correct that when approvals are granted the senior management should be aware?” asked Police Prosecutor Alpha Badjie.
At this juncture, the lawyer for the accused person, Jannet Sallah Njie, who is being assisted by Loubna Farage, objected to the question. She argued that the question was a leading one and is suggesting an answer for the witness.
“I refer the court to Section 197 of the Evidence Act and I urged the Court to disallow the question and expunge it from the records,” she submitted.
Responding to the defence’s objection, sub-Inspector Badjie argued that the question was proper under examination in-chief, adding that it is also not suggesting an answer for the prosecution witness.
He said in any event, Section 198 Sub (2) of the Evidence Act permits leading questions. He added that the question is proper and can be asked during examination-in chief as provided under section 192 of the Evidence Act. “We therefore urged the court to allow the witness to answer the question and overrule the objection,” he submitted.
Replying on points of law, the learned defence counsel argued that Section 198 Sub (2), as cited by the prosecution, was not applicable. She added that none of the conditions cited by the prosecution was fullfilled. “We therefore urged the court to uphold the objection,” submitted Lawyer Sallah Njie
Delivering the ruling, Principal Magistrate Jallow upheld the objection of the defence and ordered the question asked by the prosecution to be expunged from the court records.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned to February 15th for continuation.
Readers would recall that Mr. Muntaga Sallah is standing trial for allegedly stealing three HP computers valued at 25,400 dollars (approximately 990,600 dalasi). He denied any wrong doing.