By Mamadou Dem
Lamin Ceesay of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and second prosecution witness in the ongoing ‘theft’ case involving Mr. Muntaga Sallah, the former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum, testified yesterday, 11th August, before Principal Magistrate Momodou M.S. Jallow of Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Mr. Ceesay told the court that the accused was brought before him at the NIA and was allowed to make a cautionary statement. He said prior to obtaining the statement of the accused, he read out the cautionary wordings to him in the presence of an independent witness. He added that upon confirmation of the statement by the accused, the independent witness signed.
At this juncture, the police prosecutor, Almameh Manga, applied to tender the statement in evidence as exhibit without objection from the defence. Consequently, the cautionary statement of the accused was admitted as an exhibit and marked accordingly.
Under cross-examination, Mr. Sallah’s attorney, Loubna Farage, enquired from the witness how long he has been serving as a security officer. In response, PW2 said he has been serving for almost 30 years now, adding that when he was at the Gambia Police Force (GPF), he was a criminal investigation officer at the criminal intelligence unit.
“Did you see the work station during the investigations?” asked counsel. “Yes I do when it was brought from his home,” replied the witness.
“Is it correct that the witness told you that he wrote in his statement that the work station was at his home?” asked defence counsel. “That’s what the accused wrote in his statement,” he responded.
Counsel asked, “Is it you that received the complaint against the accused person?” The witness answered, “No it was brought before me as I earlier said. As far as I know, this is the only statement in the file.”
Counsel asked, “Are there not other statements in the file from the accused person?” The witness responded, “As far as I know this is the only statement in the file.”
“You will agree with me that the accused was fully cooperative when he made the statement entitled, ‘Work Station’?” The witness answered, “Yes.”
Counsel added, “You will agree with me that it does not look like the handwriting of the accused person?” The witness said, “I cannot tell the difference.”
Counsel remarked, “I am putting it to you that this statement is entitled ‘Work station’ because there are at least four to five other statements elicited from the accused person?” The witness answered, “Your Worship, I said earlier, this was the only statement in the file.”
At this point, the defence announced to the court that they have no further question for the witness and consequently, the matter was adjourned to the 17th and 20th of this month respectively for the continuation of hearing.
Readers would recall that Mr. Sallah is standing trial for allegedly stealing three HP computers valued at 25,400 dollars (approximately 990,600 dalasi).
According to the particulars of offence, Mr. Sallah, while serving as permanent secretary at the ministry of petroleum, without approval purchased three HP computers worth $25, 445 which he later stole and took to his home in Senegambia.
The prosecutor further alleges that the accused has stolen three HP computers worth $25,445 which he knew belong to The Gambia government.
Mr. Sallah is also accused of abusing his office when he instructed, without approval, the purchase of the computers. The said incident is said to have happened in the month of November 2014 in Banjul.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.