VP’s Protocol officer testifies in EX-SG Sabally’s Trial

By Rohey Jadama
Musa Sinyan, a protocol officer at the office of the vice presidentModou Sabally SG
testified as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5) in the case involving
the erstwhile Secretary General and Minister of presidential affairs
Momodou Sabally yesterday April 15, 2015 before Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the Banjul High Court.The state was represented by Hadi Saleh Barkum, the Director of public
prosecutions (DPP) and Olimatou Danso , while the accused was
represented by Antouman Gaye and Combeh Gaye-Coker.
Continuing his testimony Mr. Sinyan told the court that he recognised
the accused person in his capacity as the former Secretary General and
minister for presidential affairs.
PW5 told the court that he is directly under the vice president and
that he receives instructions from the chief of protocol office of the
president. He further told the court that on the 22nd May 2014, he travelled
to South Africa and the delegation was headed by the vice president to
attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma and the Thabo Mbeki
Foundation.
Mr. Sinyan told the court that upon arrival at South Africa they went
to their respective hotels and that they were told the dates and times
of the two main programmes. He told the court that the Thabo Mbeki
foundation’s programme was attended by the entire delegation.
PW5 said after the programme he went to Pretoria with one Ousman Keita
a photographer at the office of the vice president for accreditation
for the inauguration programme.
The protocol officer said upon arrival at the hotel Keita, he found
the accused at the lobby and reminded him of the programme for the
following morning and went to bed.  He told the court they waited for
the accused but he did not show up and he (PW5) then left with the
vice president for the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma without
the accused.
Mr. Sinyan said the protocol at the ground (PW4) told him that they will
leave for Gambia at 8pm and this message was communicated to the
delegation including the accused. He further told the court that it
was agreed that the vice president and the delegation will leave the
hotel one hour before departure to enable him finish the immigration
formalities.
PW5 said when they arrived at the airport the accused was not at the
airport. He added that the accused came later with Mr. Lette the
consul and joined them and they were supposed to depart at 8pm
but instead they departed at 9pm. He said the delegation was waiting
for the accused.
The DPP asked the witness what had happened to the accused person. The
witness said the accused did not show up at the time they were to leave.
The trial judge at this juncture said “We are not here to witch hunt
anybody, the accused is a minister must he monitor his movements?” The
witness said he was not aware of any other programme apart from the
two programmes he earlier mentioned.
Under cross-examination by defence Counsel Antouman Gaye the witness
was asked whether he said in his evidence in chief that the vice
president and himself agreed to wait for the accused. The witness
responded in the negative. “I’m putting it to you that you said that
in your evidence in chief?” insisted the counsel Gaye. “I still
maintain my previous answer”, said the witness. The defence lawyer asked the
witness the question again. The witness said when he was asked by the
vice president who they were waiting for; he responded that they were
waiting for the accused. The defence counsel again asked the witness
who decided that they should wait for the accused. “I cannot give a
particular name because when everyone was seated and the vice
president said why are we waiting? I told her that we are waiting for
the accused,” said PW5.
Counsel Gaye further asked the witness why they were waiting for the
accused when they agreed on a time. The witness said when he told the
vice president that they are waiting for the accused, she kept quiet
and he also kept quiet. The witness was asked whether he agreed to
leave the hotel for the vice president’s hotel at 6:45am. The witness
said they agreed to leave the hotel at 7pm. The witness was again
asked whether he agreed to go with the accused to the vice president’s
hotel so that they will join her convoy. The witness responded in the
positive.
At this stage, the case was adjourned till Tuesday 21 April at 11am,
22 April at 1pm, 23 April at 9:30am, 28 April at 11am and 29 April at
2pm respectively.