By Kebba Jeffang
In the ongoing alleged criminal trial involving Mrs. Veronic Carayol, the Deputy Commissioner of the Enforcement at the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr. William Jatta, the official driver of the accused, testified yesterday, Tuesday, 21 October, 2014 as the third prosecution witness (PW3). Police prosecutor A.S.P Musa Camara appeared for the state, whilst Lawyer Hawa Ceesay Sabally represented the accused person. Appearing before Magistrate Jacklin N. Hakim of the Banjul Magistrate’s Court, Mr. Jatta said he recognized the accused person in the dock. He told the Court that he is a driver at GRA and that the accused person is his senior, adding that he is her official driver.
PW3 said Madame Carayol sometimes assigned him to take one Ebrima Njie and Ebrima Bah to one store in Dobson street and that these two individuals are not his senior and that the store does not belong to GRA either.
Under cross examination, Mr. Jatta admitted that GRA consists of Custom and Income Tax, adding that he is under Custom. He said he does not know all the staff of GRA.
“In my statement at NIA on the 10th September, 2014 I told them that I am a driver and I have been working with GRA since 2008. As a staff, I know that GRA is guided by the Code of Conduct and Staff Service Rules which was revised in 2010 and was given to every staff,” he said in response to a question by the defence counsel.
“Would you be able to identify the two documents you mentioned if shown to you?” asked counsel. The witness responded in the affirmative.
When the Code of Conduct and Staff Service Rules were shown to him, the witness identified them as the ones he was talking about.
The defence then tendered the two documents as exhibits. When there was no objection from the prosecution, the trial magistrate admitted and marked the two documents as defence Exhibits A and A1 respectively.
Giving Exhibit A1 to the witness, the counsel for the accused asked him to look at pages 21 and 22 in Chapter 5 and tell the court what the content is dealing with. The witness confirmed that the said portion is dealing with allowances for motor vehicles and motor cycles, transport allowances.
“Page 55 Paragraph 1303 deals with plate and vehicle. Is that right?” asked counsel. “Yes,” answered the witness.
“It is correct that you are an authorized person to drive the authority’s vehicle?” asked counsel. The witness responded in the positive.
He said he is always authorized to drive the vehicle by his boss and always given due clearance. “The vehicle I drove was insured. I do not know the existence of any other provisions other than the Code of Conduct and Staff Service Rules in governing the vehicles’ operation,” added PW3.
He told the Court that he was not aware of GRA having a store. He said there may be some staff members called Ebrima Njie and Ebrima Bah, but that he does not know those names within the GRA set up.
“I was assigned by the human resource department of GRA as a driver. I was attached to the accused person and I was present when the vehicle was allocated to her by the Director General, Ansumana Trawally. My relation with the accused person is very cordial,” witness told the court.
“I am putting it to you that the store belongs to the sister of Veronic Carayol and not herself,” said the defence counsel. The witness replied “yes.”
“How did you find yourself at the NIA to give a statement,” asked counsel Sisay Sabally. The witness said he received a phone call from an unidentified person who said he was needed at the NIA office.
“Did you take permission before going to the NIA?” asked the defence lawyer.
“I didn’t take permission because NIA called, that was why I rushed up,” replied the witness.
PW3 added “My statement was taken at one Mr. Jallow’s office, an OC at the NIA. He was writing my statement while I was asked to narrate. I was then asked to sign at the bottom.”
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to today, Wednesday, 22 October, 2014 at 2pm.