By Rohey Jadama
Mr. Ousman Badjie, the former Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure and erstwhile Ambassador of The Gambia to France, has told the Banjul high court presided by Justice Simeon Ateh Abi that he had no supervisory authority over any member of staff of the Gambian Embassy.
Mr. Badjie said he came to know Mr. Bojang’s deeds on the 20th February 2012 when their focal point at the Bank called and told him that they received a cheque but which they cannot cash as there was insufficient funds in the account. He was testifying as Defence witness one (DW1) in the case involving him.
The prosecution alleges that Mr. Badjie willfully neglected to perform his duty and consequent upon which Mr. Faisal Bojang, the Financial Attachee at the Gambian Embassy, caused shortages in the sum of 34,333 Euros in the Embassy account.
He continued “I called the deputy head of mission and informed her about it and I went with her to the Bank.”
He adduced that when he went to the Bank he was told by their focal point that Mr. Bojang cashed the sum of 37,000,500 Euros and absconded with it.
Mr. Badjie further added that the financial attaché forged the signature of the deputy head of mission in Paris, Mrs. Adele Sock, in the amount of 37,000,500 Euros and ran away with it.
DW1 said he asked the focal point how it happened and that he was told that Mr. Bojang brought a cheque which has been signed by two signatories which were the signature of the deputy head of mission and himself (Bojang). He said he thereafter requested for the photocopy of the cheque and the latest printout from the Bank.
Former Ambassador Badjie said he went straight to the police and reported the matter to them and handed over the photocopies of both the cheque and the diplomatic passport of Mr. Bojang. He said thereafter he went back to the Embassy and wrote a ‘note verbal’ to the ministry of foreign affairs informing them about the robbery. He said ‘note verbal’ is the most used line of communication between the Embassy and the ministry of foreign affairs.
DW1 told the court that after sending the ‘note verbal’, he followed it up with a telephone call. He said he called the director in charge of diplomatic and consular at the ministry of foreign affairs requesting for a meeting which was granted for him to buttress on the importance of the ministry’s cooperation in this particular matter. He added that the director informed him that immediately they received a ‘note verbal’ they sent it to the ministry of the interior and that Faisal Bojang was put in their blacklist.
Mr. Badjie said he went back to the embassy to send ‘note verbals’ to diplomatic missions informing them not to issue any visa to Mr. Bojang and that whenever he shows up they should hand him over to the embassy.
DW1 further told the court that the deputy head of mission is responsible for the administration and coordination of the activities of the mission between the 14th -30th of June. He further added that the deputy head of mission is responsible for the finances of the Embassy.
He said the financial attaché is a staff of the Directorate of the National Treasury posted to the embassy in collaboration with head of chancery. He adduced that the head of chancery prepares the budget of the Embassy for submission to the director of treasury.
Mr. Badjie said ambassadors are appointed and posted to embassies by the president of the republic.
Mr. Badjie said Bojang was introduced to him in Paris and that he came there with the then Director of Treasury in October 2013. He said the directorate of treasury appointed Mr. Bojang and he saw his letter of posting addressed to the head of chancery.
The case continues on 23rd and 29 of June at 11am respectively for continuation of defence.