By Mamadou Dem
Veronica Carayol, Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement at The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), who after having been granted bail by Magistrate Jacklin Nixon Hakim of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, but later detained at the National Intelligence Agency headquarters (NIA), has now been released from NIA custody to reunite with her family.
This was disclosed to the Court yesterday, Wednesday, 1 October, 2014 by the security operative, Kebba Secka, who said the accused was no longer in detention, prior to the adjournment of the matter to the 8th of October.
Defence counsel Awa Sisay Sabally had earlier informed the court that her client was re-arrested and requested for her to be produced in court.
Continuing with the cross-examination of the witness, the defence counsel said “You were to investigate the accused on three things. Can you tell the court what these things were?”
“Undermining the present administration of the Gambia Revenue Authority (G.R.A), harassing of staff and distributing fake baby diapers,” replied the witness.
Counsel asked, “Did you see the letter from these concern citizens during the course of your investigations?”
“Yes,” said the witness.
“You also saw the witness statement written by Yankuba Darboe?,” she enquired.
He replied, “Yes.”
Hawa said, “Is it correct that as an investigation officer, you will collect information anywhere, including the internet about anything concerning the Gambia?”
“I don’t know,” responded the witness.
Counsel said, “I’m putting it to you Mr. Secka that the letter from concern citizen, contained the same issues, arguments, wishes and sentiments expressed by Yankuba Darboe in his statement?”
“No,” replied the witness.
Counsel remarked, “I’m also putting it to you that that the letter from the concern citizen was published in one of the online newspapers few days before she (accused) was arrested?”
“I don’t know,” Pw1 replied.
“That concern citizen is nobody but Yankuba Darboe. He was laying a foundation for her dismissal. Is that not correct?” she quizzed.
The witness replied, “I don’t know.”
At this juncture, counsel referred the witness to the investigation report with the heading “Observations” and said “Mr. Secka your role or task as an investigator was to investigate and find out if there was substantial evidence. Prove beyond reasonable doubt is for a court to prove or determine and not a panel?”
The witness replied, “I don’t know that.”
Sissay Sabally asked,“Is it because of your lack of knowledge of what you were tasked to do, you arrived at a wrong conclusion?”
The witness replied, “No.”
Sissay Sabally remarked, “Your panel was faced with contradictions in your investigations. I’m putting it to you that you failed to resolve it, there was a memo and the outstanding balance exist?”
“No,” he continued.
Counsel further put it to the witness that one Mr. Gomez of the GRA never said to them that he did not receive a memo from the accused for more than five times but the witness insisted that Gomez did not mention a particular outstanding payment in the memo.
Counsel asked, “You know that we are dealing with one memo and your findings deal with that single memo?”
“No, I don’t know because I don’t see any memo,” said the witness.
The defence counsel put it to the witness that the document exists and they are refusing to collect the outstanding millions for whatever reason and that is why all the witnesses listed in exhibit “A” contradicted themselves regarding the memo.
“I don’t know,” said the witness.
Counsel asked, “What was the difficulty the panel had, that it refused to investigate this memo?”
“We do not have any difficulty during the investigations,” he responded.
Counsel asked, “Why did the government not recover the money?”
“We did not say that,” said Secka.
Counsel added, “Apart from Darboe making allegations against Miss Carayol of trying to undermine his administration, did he tell you how because it’s not in the statement?”
“Darboe stated that the accused don’t attend meetings, she was not serious with her work, not getting that …….. work from her since he took the office as Deputy Commissioner General.”
Counsel told the witness that apart from Darboe and Elizabeth and to some extent Fatou Bojang, nobody went to assassinate the character of the accused person, but the witness said “I don’t see any character assassination of staff.”
The defence further told the witness that Mr. Darboe has always been undermining the accused person which, she said, was harassment of women in work places, but the witness maintained that he does not know.
According to counsel, in the investigation report, one Alagie stated that he was not aware of any problem between the accused and Elizabeth for a year, adding that Elizabeth is paid from public coffers whilst she was not working. “Did you put that to the accused?” she asked.
Pw1 responded that unless he sees the statement he cannot respond.
Still cross-examining the witness, counsel Sisay Sabally said one Alagie Conteh confirmed that as long as he was under the accused person, he usually receives instructions from other people bypassing the boss (accused).
Pw1 responded in the positive, adding that due to the modus operandi, he does have instructions from the commissioner general.
Sissay Sabally asked, “In security, is there a chain of command?”
The witness responded, “Yes there is a chain of command but there is also a modus operandi”
“Those modus operandi put at the GRA are the ones undermining the GRA administration?” she asked.
The witness answered, “The commissioner general instructs or assigned any personnel of the GRA to do a job without……..”
Counsel asked, “Did you ask about Alagie M.L. Conteh the Term of Reference (T.O.R) during the course of your investigations?”
“No we did not,” responded the witness.
The counsel for the accused put it to the witness that Mr. Darboe desired to be commissioner general is now forcing him to eliminate any potential candidate. In response, the witness said he does not know.
Counsel added, “I’m putting it to you that your conclusion did not say as a fact that the accused was undermining the present administration of the GRA.”
“It was not stated there,” he said.
The witness further told the court that he cannot remember reading a letter emanating from Buba Gassama’s lawyer, Amie Bensouda. He added that he cannot tell whether the accused was the importer of the diapers.
Counsel asked, “What did you do to Gassama and others because that was false information?”
“We were working on instructions. We were not instructed to arrest them,” said the NIA operative.
At this stage of the proceedings, the witness was asked to look at the accused and was told by her lawyer that she is a very ‘harmless’ person but the witness said he does not know.
Pw1 finally disclosed to the court that the accused is no more under detention.