By Mamadou Dem
The single count charge of ‘Abuse of office’ involving Buba Sagnia, erstwhile Director General of the Gambia Immigration Department has reached its climax as the defence announced the closure of its case.
Edward Singhatey, counsel for the accused, yesterday, Monday, 14 July 2014, told the Court presided over by Principal Magistrate Hillary Abeke that they have no further witness to call in this matter following the completion of the testimony of the first defence witness (Dw1) under cross-examination by State Prosecutor Mam Jobe.
According to the particulars of offence, the aforesaid person on or about the 28th of October 2013, at the immigration headquarters, in the city of Banjul and diverse places, the republic of the Gambia, abused the authority of his office, as the Director General of the immigration department, by issuing an entry clearance to Ali Chahin a Syrian national and Hussein Abs, a Lebanese national, without following the appropriate immigration procedures, thereby committed an offence.
Continuing with the cross examination of the witness, state prosecutor Mam Jobe said “ When the application was brought in respect of the Lebanese and Syrian Nationals, is it correct that the application for entry clearance was given on the same date?”
“Yes, its correct,” replied the witness.
The witness denied the allegation made by the prosecutor that careful consideration was not given to the said application.
“In normal circumstances, how many days does it take to grant such an application?” quizzed the prosecutor.
“Less than 24hrs,”said the witness.
“Would I be correct to say that this approval you gave in respect to the Syrian and Lebanese nationals was given based on smooth or factual relationship you had with Pw2, Gibril Joof?”
“No, I did it based on my mandate as the Director General of Immigration with reference to exhibit D (Immigration Manual),” responded Sagnia.
The prosecution asked whether it is correct to say that the procedure for making an application for entry clearance does not include the person bringing the application directly to him (Sagnia) as then Director General of Immigration, but Sagnia said what matters is the authenticity of the application and the reference needed from the Department of Immigration. “Such as the application brought to me,” he added
Mr. Sagnia testified that applications for entry clearance are addressed to the Director of Immigration, adding that it is correct that the said department has a record office.
“Therefore, is it not correct that based on your relationship with Pw2, you received the letters directly from him?,” asked the prosecutor.
“No letters of this nature comes directly to the Director of Immigration,” he insisted.
Furthermore, the witness admitted to the court that Immigration officers use terminologies at the immigration department in their day to day operations. He added that “Red Zone Countries” is not used by Gambian Immigration but that they instead use “iron curtain nationals.”
At this juncture, the prosecution informed the court that there was no further question for the witness which prompted the defence counsel, Edward Singhatey, to announce the closure of the defence’s case. Consequently, the case was adjourned to August 14th for adoption of briefs.
Prior to that, each party was accommodated with 14 days to file written addresses after which the state would take another two days to reply on points of law.