By Mamadou Dem
Mambanyick Njie, the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, concluding his defence in-chief with the guidance of defence counsel Antouman Gaye, on Tuesday, 1st July, 2014 told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Hillary Abeke that everything he did and said was purposely for the development of football in The Gambia and nothing more. He added that everything he stated in his letter addressed to the Office of the President was the truth and nothing but the truth.
Continuing with his defence, the former Sports PS testified that the fifth prosecution witness and current Governor of Upper River Region, Omar Sompo Ceesay, said in court that he went with six officials, adding that Mr. Ceesay was given allowances for those officials and eighteen footballers.
Senior counsel Antouman Gaye asked the accused whether the total amount given to Ceesay for those officials was € 4,800.00. The witness responded in the affirmative, but added that PW5 stated in his evidence that out of the 18 footballers 6 of them did not turn up at all.
“How much in Euros did the 6 players came with?” quizzed counsel.
“€1200.00,” said the witness.
At this juncture, the defence counsel asked the witness to look at a letter emanating from the Gambia National Sports Council, dated 7th February 2011, and address to the Secretary General of Gambia Football Association.
After perusal of the letter by the witness, the defence counsel applied to tender it as defence exhibit. Police Prosecutor Sarja Sanyang did not object to the admissibility of the said document. The letter dated 17th February, bearing “REFUND OF €1200.00” addressed to the Secretary General, Gambia Football Association was admitted and marked as defence exhibit11.
“Has this €1200.00 been refunded?” asked Senior Counsel Gaye.
The witness responded in the negative. He added that he can recall the evidence given by Kemo Ceesay, then treasurer of the GFA, and second prosecution witness. He said Ceesay admitted to the court that the Headquarters of the GFA in Kanifing were extracting electricity from National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) without paying.
At this point, counsel asked him to further take a look at a document said to be an invoice from NAWEC to GFA in respect of electricity bill. NAWEC’s cash power bill dated 18th May, 2012 was admitted and marked accordingly as defence exhibit.
According to the witness, NAWEC was claiming from the then Gambia football Association the sum of D516, 264.70 (Five hundred and Sixteen thousand two hundred and sixty four dalasis seventy bututs) being outstanding payments for electricity consumed by the said association.
“When you wrote to the President’s Office, the letter was captioned ‘The way Forward’, you made certain recommendations?”
“Yes I did,” Njie replied; adding that his recommendations were accepted.
“What happened to the Executive Committee of the GFA?” asked counsel.
“They were dissolved and a normalisation committee for GFA was put in place,” said the witness.
“Did you act in good faith?”
“Absolutely, yes,” he replied.
Further enquiring from the witness, counsel said “Were you out to target any individual or group of individuals”
“Everything I did and said was purely for the development of football in this country,” he said.
“Did you in that letter ‘The Way Forward’ give any false information?”
“Everything I said in that letter was the truth and nothing but the truth,” he insisted.
At this stage, prosecuting officer Sanyang applied for an adjournment to enable him cross examine the witness at the next adjourn date, July 9th, 2014.
Readers could recall that the prosecution alleged that Mambanyick Njie, on or about the 1st day of March 2012, in the City of Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, whilst as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, petitioned the Office of the President to wit: that the Ex GFA (Gambia Football Association) Executives were engaged in financial malpractices and never gave a through account of the impress given to them for international marches and therefore sought approval to dissolve the said GFA Executive an information he knew to be false or does not believe to be true and thereby committed an offence. He denied any wrong doing.