By Lamin Sanyang
The criminal trial involving the state and Sheikh Tijan Sosseh, the former coordinator of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) yesterday, Wednesday 8 October, resumed at the Special Criminal Court, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the Banjul High Court.
When the case was mentioned for hearing, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed announced his appearance for the state whilst the defendant was represented by senior lawyer Antouman Gaye together with lawyer Edward Singhatey.
The fourth prosecution witness (Mr. Samsudeen Kebbeh), was reminded by the state prosecutor about his earlier testimony of the various components of the Gambia Emergency Food Production project and said all the three components of the project were executed.
The witness told the court that the defect liability of the project is when a contract is lost after one year, if there is any defect the contractor should be informed to fix the defect. He said they have received a letter from the management of Seed Multiplication Center indicating defects and wrote to the consultants to fix it.
At this juncture, he said he would identify the letter he wrote to the consultant by his signature. The said letter was shown to him and was confirmed by him. There was no objection from the defence. Subsequently, the document was admitted and marked as an exhibit.
The witness said he is familiar with retention bond which he said is a guarantee from the bank which covers period a period of one year. He said if there is a defect within a year and the contractor fails to fix it then the bond can be used to claim the money from the bank to fix the defect. He admitted the issuance of retention bond in the case before the court which he said he can identify with the bank’s name and the standard form from the World Bank. The said document was shown to him and confirmed by him.
An application to tender the document was objected by the senior defense lawyer (Antouman Gaye). He argued that the document was a photocopy of a letter from Bank PHB of the Gambia to the Gambia Emergency Agricultural Production. He referred to the second page of the letter that is stamped and signed by one Mrs. Yasin Khan, Acting Coordinator of WAAPP.
“My submission is that this stamp does not take this document from the ring of secondary evidence. They have a duty to produce the original,” lawyer Gaye opined.
Lawyer Gaye further submitted the three conditions required by the law of evidence for the prosecution to satisfy the court that the document is in their possession, custody and control. He said it has to be proved that the document is lost or it is in the custody of the adversary. He said they are claiming privilege against corruption.
The defense lawyer further submitted that the document is not certified which he said is not a World Bank form but a document from Bank PHB. He urged the court to reject the application made by the state prosecutor.
The state prosecutor in his argument told the court that the document to be tendered falls under private document. He referred to several sections of the Evidence Act, arguing that the document is admissible and relevant to the facts in the issue before the court. He urged the court to overrule the objection of the defense.
Meanwhile, the matter was adjourned till today, Thursday 9 October for ruling.