By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Sajor Marena, Financial Controller of Central Processing Coordinating Unit (CPCU) and fourth prosecution witness (Pw4) in the ongoing criminal trial involving Ebrima Jawara, yesterday 23 June 2016, continued to give evidence under cross-examination before Principal Magistrate Omar Cham of the lower court in Banjul.
Continuing with the cross-examination of the witness, Mr. Jawara’s attorney, Modou Drammeh asked Mr. Marena (Pw4) whether he is bound by the Financial Instructions (FI) of the government and to which the witness replied in the positive.
“On the 24th of November, was the accused the Coordinator of Central Processing Coordinating Unit (CPCU)?”, asked counsel. “I still maintain my earlier answer that the Ministry of Agriculture is in a best position to ascertain that,” said the witness.
Counsel noted, “In addition to your salaries, do you and other CPCU staff receive allowances from some of the projects under the ministry of agriculture?” He responded, “Yes, only the project coordinator, financial controller and the M&E (Management and Evaluation) received such allowances for coordinating.” Pw4 added that CPCU is not a project but is established to coordinate, monitor and to some extent implement some projects under the ministry of agriculture.
Responding further, the fourth prosecution witness confirmed that he is a public officer.
“Is it true that the General Orders (GO’s) from the public service of the Gambia applies to all public officers?” asked counsel Drammeh. “Of course,” replied the witness, adding that he is familiar or au-fait with the said orders.
“If shown to you, would you be able to recognize it?” quizzed counsel?” “Yes,” responded Pw4.
At this juncture, counsel brought out a pamphlet and asked the witness to have a look at it.
Upon perusal of the document, Mr. Marena said “I cannot comment on it because it’s a photocopy.”
The presiding Magistrate quickly interjected and urged Mr. Marena to feel free as he will be jealously guided by the court.
Consequently, the defence applied to tender the said document into evidence as exhibit but later decided to revoke the application when Police Prosecutor Inspector Sarja Sanyang was about to object to its admissibility.
“Isn’t it not true that CPCU receive an annual subvention from Gambia Government (GG)?” asked the defence counsel. “Yes,” responded Mr. Marena.
Counsel remarked, “I put it to you that the FI’s applies to all sub vented agencies?” “I know that it applies to CPCU,” said the witness, adding that the General Orders are also incumbent on CPCU.
Counsel added, “I put it to you that as head of the accounts section, you control the disbursement of funds and ensure that the officer ordering a payment is mandated to do so?” He said, “I do that with the approval of the project coordinator.”
Counsel remarked, “I also put it to you that you are not supposed to process a payment unless the person who is duly mandated to authorized it.” The witness responded in the affirmative.
Mr. Marena further told the court that he cannot remember whether the accused person was appointed as CPCU Coordinator on 9th July, 2015 but counsel intimated to him that by virtue of his position as financial controller, he could have been copied with the appointment letter of the accused person.
“I’m putting it to you that he was appointed on the 9th of July 2015.” said counsel Drammeh. “I cannot remember,” responded Pw4.
At this stage, the matter was adjourned to 28th June for continuation.