Former Immigration DG Opens Defence

By Mamadou Dem

Buba Sagnia, former Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) and first defence witness in the ongoing “Abuse of Office and Negligence of Official duties” trial involving him yesterday, Monday, 23 June 2014, commenced his defence before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Hillary Abeke.

Mr. Sagnia testified that he was the former Immigration Director General, adding that he worked for the said Department for 35 years and has served as director for 3 years and 10 months.

“My duties as Director were to command, control, guide and direct the affairs of the Immigration Department,” he told the Court.

He added that he derived his powers from the Immigration Act and Manual, respectively.

At that point, his lawyer, Edward Sighatey asked him to explain his chain of command and also tell the court to whom was he directly answerable as then Director of the Immigration.

“My chain of command was the Ministry of Interior and I’m directly answerable to the Minister of Interior,” he replied.

“Apart from that one, are you answerable to any other person or any other sister agency?”

“Not at all, only the ministry of Interior,” said the witness.

“You’ve been charged with abuse of office, revised laws of the Gambia, that you acted in excess of your powers and issued an entry clearance to a Syrian and Lebanese national without forwarding same to the National Intelligence Agency. What is your reaction?” asked defence counsel Singhatey.

“I totally disagree. I acted according to my powers as the Director General of Immigration vested in me by the Immigration Act and especially the Immigration Manual,” he said.

With regards to count two, neglect of official duties the accused said “I disagree. I acted according to my powers as stated in the Immigration Manual, Article 9.10 which states that entry clearance is referred to the Director of Immigration and not to any other agency,” testified the witness.

Hearing continues on Monday June 30th.