By Rohey Jadama
Former Minister of Presidential Affairs, Mr. Momodou Sabally, while continuing his defence yesterday, 23rd June 2015, told the Banjul High Court that he found the charge that he delayed the flight of the Vice president confusing. He added that he did not agree to it because the 22nd May 2014 met him in Banjul and that the delay happened in Johannesburg, South Africa while he travelled to South Africa on the 24th of May, 2014.
Prosecutors allege in Count 6 that that on or about 22nd day of May 2014 while Mr. Sabally serving as Secretary General, Head of Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs and while being part of the Gambian delegation to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, wilfully and negligently, delayed the departure of the Vice President’s flight from South Africa for 45 minutes.
Mr Sabally is the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and former Minister of Presidential Affairs. The case was presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi.
Continuing his defence Mr. Sabally added that on the 22nd of May he was in Banjul and that the inauguration was supposed to take place on the 24th of May 2014. He further told the court that the Vice president’s convoy left him behind the morning of the inauguration and the team knew that and that they knew he was supposed to be part of the VP’s convoy.
“While I endeavoured to contact the VP’s team nobody in her entourage contacted me. This resulted me enlisting the help of the honorary consul Seedy Lette and on the 24th of May 2014 nobody contacted me the whole day until late in the evening when I got a call from Ndey Haddy Jeng that the flight was ready for departure”, said the former SG.
Mr Sabally said when the call came he was in a meeting and that he told Ms. Jeng that he was going to rush and join them. He was asked by his lawyer what type of meeting he was attending. “This was a meeting emanating from the instructions I got from the President and this was among the assignments I was supposed to conclude while I was in South Africa”, said Sabally.
He said Mr. Lette again gave him a ride to the hotel he was staying and he packed his luggage quickly and that upon his arrival at the VP’s hotel her convoy had already left for the airport. “Mr. Lette drove me to the airport with Proffesor Kah and when we reached the departure lounge, I went into the aircraft and greeted everyone including the VP and I also apologised for the inconvenience caused to the team. I sat down in the aircraft and no one expressed complaints and the atmosphere was cordial and mutual”, said the erstwhile SG.
The former SG told the court that the delegation was headed by the VP and that she was in charge of the movement of the aircraft. Sabally continued, “I always refer to her for two reasons, firstly she is the head of the delegation and culturally she is old enough to be my mother.”
Sabally told the court that when they were living for South Africa he requested for PR materials and that he was part of a team working for the improvement of PR and that he requested the copies of African magazines that feature the interview of the president and also he requested for books that featured the president’s development achievements and this includes a book by Ebrima Jawara, the son of the former president.
“I proceeded to the airport to join them, staff from the president’s household told me that they are going to send the materials and I went straight to the aircraft and I was there with the VP and her team and we waited for the materials to arrive without anyone complaining and the materials arrived less than an hour and we carried them to South Africa”, said Mr. Sabally.
“You heard the evidence of Sheikh Omar Bah (PW1), Sulayman Jatta(PW2) and Alhassan Ndoye ( PW10,) what happened in your house in Kerr Seriegn when the trio came to your house?” asked Antouman Gaye his counsel. Responding to the question Sabally said PW1 sometime last year informed him about one Alhassan Ndoye a Senegalese. He further told the court that he and PW1 had worked together at the Central Bank of the Gambia from 1999-2009. He added that PW1 was a messenger and he was an Economist in the same department called Economic Research Department.
“When he testified in court he told the court that he was an operator at the Central Bank, what do you have to say to this?”, asked Barrister Gaye. “I found it surprising because at the time I left the Bank he was a messenger and when I left the Central Bank in 2009 my relationship continued with him for personal basis and he used to run errands for me and my family”, said Sabally.
The erstwhile SG said PW1 told him that Ndoye had 2 cars that he wanted to donate to the president and that he was too busy to meet Ndoye and until after about two weeks he granted them audience. He added that PW1 came to his house with Ndoye and Sulayman Jatta (PW2).
At this juncture the case was adjourned till Thursday 25th of June 2015 at 11am for continuation of defence.