By Kebba Jeffang
Sheikh Omar Bah, the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the trial involving Mr. Momodou Sabally, the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and the Minister for Presidential Affairs, told the court under cross examination by the defence that the cars were not a gift to the President but for sale.
When the case was called yesterday, 8th December 2014, A.M. Yusuf announced his representation for the state whilst Lawyer Antouman Gaye represented the accused.
Continuing his cross examination by the defence, PW1 told the Court that the said cars are second hand pick-up vehicles that are brown in colour and originated from the United States of America. When the defence counsel asked the witness that notwithstanding the fact that the cars were meant to be a gift to the President, the accused had told him that the cars would be sent to the State House to be inspected by the security people. Responding, PW1 said the cars were not meant for donation to the President. He added that he was there with some witnesses and that the cars were for sale.
Mr. Bah said the accused person inspected the cars and said the President would like them, adding that the accused told the three of them at his residence that the cars should be taken to the State House for the President to see them. He said he can remember that the cars were taken to State House twice and not three times as put by the counsel.
“I put it to you that the first time the cars were taken to the State House was for inspection,” said the defence counsel. The witness replied that he doesn’t know anything about that.
“Was there a time when you, your in-law Sulayman Jatta, Alhassan Ndoye and the accused person sat together around the table at the NIA?” asked the defence counsel. “Yes,” he replied.
Counsel asked “NIA officers conducted what they called ‘confrontation’ among three of you?” he responded in the affirmative.
Counsel asked, “And that confrontation was videotaped?” “Yes.”
Counsel added, “In your evidence in chief, you spoke about meeting the President at the July 22nd Square during a programme. Is that sure?” The witness replied, “Yes.”.
Counsel asked, “Do you have a privilege of talking to the President?” The witness replied, “No.”
Counsel asked, “What about Sulayman Jatta. Does he have privilege to talk to him?” The witness replied, “No, he didn’t.”
Counsel asked, “Were you all there until the programme came to an end?” The witness replied, “Yes.”.
Counsel asked, “Was Sabally, the accused person, there?” He replied, “Yes.”
“Can you remember where Sabally was seated?” asked lawyer Gaye. The witness responded that the accused person was busy going up and down.
Counsel asked, “In your evidence in chief, you said Alasan Ndoye went down to shake hands with the President. Is that sure?” The witness replied, “Yes, I said so.”
Counsel asked, “There was a time you traveled to Dakar. Is that correct?”. The witness answered, “Yes.”
Counsel asked, “You went to see Mr. Ndoye. Is that correct? The witness replied, “I saw Mr. Ndoye, but I went for my private business.”
Counsel asked, “What was the purpose of seeing Mr. Ndoye?” The witness replied, “I went for my business and then passed a night with him.”
When Lawyer Gaye asked witness how he knew and found Mr. Ndoye in Dakar, he responded that he has his contact.
When asked whether he and Mr. Ndoye talked about the issue of the cars, he responded in the positive.
“Tell the court what you have discussed about the issue of the cars,” asked counsel. The witness said they have spoken about selling the cars.
“But in your evidence, you said that was discussed in Banjul,” said counsel. The witness responded in the affirmative, adding that it was not easy to access the accused person at that time. He said he has so much respect for the accused person that whenever he says anything, he (Bah) would not talk further.
“When you were going to Dakar for your private business, did you tell the accused person?” asked the defence counsel. He replied in the negative.
“Did you not tell the investigators at the NIA that the accused person sent you to Dakar to Ndoye?” asked counsel. “Yes,” he replied, but added that it was not his only trip in Dakar.
Counsel asked, “Did you state in your statement that the accused person cut off relationship between you and him and you were confused and ran to Dakar?” He replied, “Yes.”
Counsel asked, “In your evidence in chief, you never told my lord that you have been to Dakar. Did you?” He replied, “Nobody asked me whether or not I have been to Dakar.”
Counsel said, “But you said so at the NIA. Is that correct?” In response, PW1 said he cannot remember saying that.
Counsel asked, “You told this court that you told the accused person about the deal and he was angry at you. Is that so?” The witness replied, “I don’t understand the word ‘deal’.”
Counsel asked, “Did you tell Sabally that Ndoye was asking for payment?” He responded that it was not easy to access the accused person to talk to him about that issue. He said the accused person would say ‘after’ and he couldn’t tell him about the payment.
“Did you tell the accused person that Ndoye wants the cars to be kept in exchange for government contract?” asked the defence counsel. The witness at this point told the court that there are two things together. He said one of them is the business that the accused person spoke about with Ndoye. He said Ndoye told the accused that he has a business in USA and he wants to bring it to this country. He said this is different from the car issue. He added that the accused person promised Mr. Ndoye of a government contract.
“You said that there was a night that the accused person called to tell you that the cars are for donation and not for sale. Is that right?” asked Lawyer Gaye. The witness responded in the affirmative, adding that “he told me I think the cars are for donation and later said angrily that he will make sure the cars are returned to Ndoye because he doesn’t want to lose his job. I didn’t say anything.”
“I put it to you that he never told you that the cars would be returned,” said counsel. “I swear it is the accused person who said so,” responded the witness.
“I put it to you that he became angry and shouted at you because you told him that Ndoye was asking for payment for the cars when to his knowledge they were a donation,” said counsel. PW1 Bah, in response, said he did not even have a single day to talk to the accused person about the issue of payment.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 18th December, 2014 at 2:30pm for continuation of cross examination of the witness by the defence counsel.