By Mamadou Dem
Saikou Sanyang, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Regional Administration, Lands and Traditional Rulers under cross-examination by Lamin Mboge, counsel for Mr. Juwara, told the court that he cannot decide whether Waa Juwara, 3rd accused, is culpable or not.
The case presided over by Principal Magistrate Lamin Mbaye involves Mr. Juwara, erstwhile Minister of the said Ministry, Tamsir Onasis Konteh and Hamidou Jallow, former Principal Land and Evaluation Officer.
Continuing with the evidence in-chief of the witness, state prosecutor Mam Jobe said “when you say it is sufficient, for what makes it sufficient?”
PW6 replied that the submission of the yard rate payment slips and the witnessing by the Alkalo supporting it.
When asked whether the top page of exhibit “B” was enough for compensation, he replied in the negative.
“What are the procedures for the granting of compensation for land?” asked the prosecutor.
According to the witness, land that is not leased requires yard ownership and Alkalo authentication.
Under cross examination, lawyer Mboge said to the witness “you will agree that in 2011, the 3rd accused was the governor of L.R.R.”
“I cannot precisely remember where he was,” replied the witness.
“Can you recall that the 3rd accused was appointed as Minister for Lands precisely on the 8th February, 2012?”
“Yes,” replied the witness.
“You will agree with me that the office of Minister is not an elected but public office?”
“Yes,” responded the witness.
“You will agree that the Directors of Lands and Survey and Physical Planning are the technical advisers to the Minister?”
“Are you also aware that the claims for compensation by the first accused started since 20th November, 1992 as per exhibit “T1”?
“I cannot precisely remember when the compensation was started,” said the witness.
“You will agree that the 3rd accused was not in office as minister at the time the compensation file of the 1st accused was being processed?” he enquired.
“Yes,” replied the witness.
“You agree the 3rd accused did not cause the allocation of plot No C8-C9 to the 1st accused person as compensation?”
“From your vast experience at the Lands ministry, you will agree with me that the power of Minister for Local Government and Lands are regulated by the State Lands Act 1991.”
“I beg to disagree,” said the witness.
“You will agree that the power of the Minister has spelled out clearly in the State Lands Act 1991?”
“Yes, some powers,” testified the witness.
“Under the Act, the powers spelled out include the powers to approve recommendations made by his two technical advisers?”
“You agree that the minister (3rd accused) has no powers to reverse the decision already made prior to his appointment?”
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” said the witness.
“As Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Lands, do you have powers to reverse the decision of your predecessor?” asked counsel.
“It’s relative in the sense that there are certain decisions that may require revisiting and in that process cancel.”
“That implies decisions that were wrongfully made and executed?”
“No necessarily,” said Pw6.
“In your evidence in-chief, you referred to the allocation of plot No. C8-C9 to another party who is that other party can you tells the court?”
“I have never mentioned that, I only said a plot was committed by the then director of lands,” he insisted.
“What do you mean by committed and to who?”
“Committed means given to somebody but I wouldn’t know precisely because I’m not the holder of state lands records,” said the witness.
“I am putting it to you that the 3rd accused is an innocent person in this matter because this file was recommended before he assumed office?”
“I cannot decide the accuse’s innocence or guilt under the circumstances,” said Sanyang.
Sheriff Tambedou, who held brief for Abdulai Sisohor counsel for Tamsir Onasis Conteh, asked the witness whether he was invited to a conference or briefing by the prosecutor. He replied in the negative.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 20th of this month for continuation of cross-examination.
Readers would recall that the erstwhile Minister, Lamin Waa Juwara is standing trial for alleged ‘Neglect of Official duty’. Mr. Konteh is charged with Making False Documents, Uttering False Documents and obtaining goods by false pretences. Mr. Jallow is charge with ‘Abuse of Office, Disobedience of statutory and Disobedience of lawful orders.