By Rohey Jadama
The case involving Mrs. Veronic Carayol, the deputy commissioner of Enforcement at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) proceeded with the second prosecution witness (PW2) testifying at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Jackline N Hakim yesterday, Wednesday, 15th October, 2014.
Prosecutor ASP Musa Camara appeared for the Inspector General of Police (IGP), whilst Lawyer Awa Ceesay Sabally represented the accused person.
PW2 in his testimony introduced himself as Modou Jadama and told the court that he is a police officer. He told the court he recognized the accused person very well. He said he was part of the panel of investigators at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and that he took the cautionary and voluntary statements of the accused person.
“How did you obtain them?” asked the prosecutor.
PW2 told the Court that he read out the charges to the accused and that she wrote her version denying all the counts except one and after which an independent witness signed.
He was asked whether he will recognize the said cautionary statement if it is shown to him. The prosecution witness responded in the positive, adding that his name and rank were written on it.
The statements were shown to him and he recognized them. The defence counsel said the witness was served with two cautionary statements, one with an independent witness and the other one without an independent witness. She, however, did not object to them and the prosecutor applied to tender the two as exhibits. The two cautionary statements were thus marked as exhibits B and B1 and the voluntary statement as Exhibit C.
Under cross examination, defence counsel Sisay Sabally asked: “Mr Jadama you said in your evidence in chief that your name and rank is written in the cautionary statement, did you write your name on it?”
He replied in the positive.
“You sat in the panel, did you?”
“Yes,” replied PW2.
Madam Sabally asked, “Will you recognize exhibit A if you see it?”
The witness answered, “Yes, because my signature is on it.”
Madam Sabally asked, “Mr Jadama in your investigation, you remembered the issue of Buba Gassama, the man who lodged the complaint of the diapers? Take a look at exhibit A. You summarized Buba Gassama’s statement, is that not correct?”
The witness answered, “Not me, but the panel.”
“I’m putting it to you that the cautionary statement that you took from her dealt with the issue of Buba Gassama and the diapers?” said Lawyer Sisay Sabally.
“In respect of that statement, I did not take it,” replied PW2.
Madam Sabally asked, “I’m putting it to you that you failed to invite an independent witness to complete the document?”
“I have no idea,” replied PW2.
Madam Sabally asked, “No member of the public has access to take cautionary statements at the NIA?”
The witness answered, “Outsiders do come and take cautionary statements.
“Mr. Jadama you appended your signature on Exhibit A. You were attached to which branch of the police?” asked the defence counsel.
“Serious crime unit of the police headquarters,” said PW2.
Madam Sabally asked, “Were you the only one who took the cautionary statement of the accused?”
“The only thing I know is that I took two cautionary statements from her,” he responded.
Madam Sabally asked, “Mr Jadama who summarized the statement of Exhibit A?”
The witness answered, “It’s the panel that summarized it.”
Madam Sabally asked, “How long have you been with the police?”
The witness answered, “Almost 3 years and some months.”
Madam Sabally asked, “Prior to that what was your occupation?”
The witness answered, “Immediately after graduation, I joined the Gambia Police Force.”
Madam Sabally asked, “Since when did you start working with this particular department?”
The witness answered, “Since I passed out from the training school in the year 2012, but I can’t remember the month because I was doing an attachment and reporting at the police headquarters.”
Madam Sabally asked, “How many panels have you ever worked with?”
The witness answered, “This is my second time being part of a panel at NIA.”
Madam Sabally asked, “You said the accused denied all the charges except one. Did you remember the charge she accepted?”
The witness answered, “Yes, she accepted the abuse of office charge.”
Madam said, “I’m putting it to you that she did not admit the charge?’
“She did admit it. Take a look at the cautionary statement”, said PW2.
Madam Sabally remarked, “Mr. Jadama, I’m putting it to you that not only did you take 3 cautionary statements and 2 voluntary statements, you were part of a panel that did a poor investigation?”
The witness answered, “We did it to the best of our ability.”
“I would accept that you did the job in the best of your ability, but it was a very poor investigation,” insisted the defence counsel.
At this sytage, the case was adjourned to the 20th of October, 2014 for continuation of hearing
It could be recalled that Madam Veronic Carayol, the deputy commissioner of Enforcement at The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) was arraigned and charged with four counts. However, the third count was not read in court due to the defence counsel’s objection that the said count should be referred to the Supreme Court for interpretation which was upheld by the court in a ruling.
According to the particulars of the offence on count one, ‘’abuse of office’, it is alleged that the accused, in Banjul and other places abused her office by allowing the official vehicle with registration No. GRA 63 to be used for carrying her sister’s employee and merchandise of baby diapers for an official mission and thereby committed an offence.
Count two, false information to public servant, states that the accused, in Banjul and other diverse places, falsely informed the panel of investigators that there is an outstanding balance businesspersons should pay, which she circulated and it was retrieved by some GRA top official, an information she knew or believed to be false.
On count four, the particulars of offence indicate that the accused, in Banjul and diverse places uttered by own words that she accepted unsolicited money as gifts or consideration as an induction or reward for doing or for bearing to do or have been done or for borne to do this act in relation to her “principal affairs to show favours” and thereby committed an offence.