By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Fafa Sanyang, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum, and third prosecution witness (Pw3) in the ongoing alleged ‘theft’ case involving Muntaga Sallah, his predecessor, yesterday, 20 August, 2015, continued to give evidence before Principal Magistrate Momodou S.M. Jallow of the lower court in Banjul.Continuing with his evidence under cross examination, Pw3 responded that Carmark energy, Gambia Limited, signed petroleum exploration, development and production of license for petroleum.
“Are there other licenses?,” asked lawyer LoubnaFarage. “Yes, there are other licenses. African Petroleum Gambia limited,” responded Sanyang.
Testifying further, the witness told the court that it was correct that he was a former Commissioner of Petroleum in 2006 and, prior to that, he was in the civil service which he joined in 1981.
Mr. Sanyang told the court that at the time of his appointment as Commissioner for Petroleum, the ministry of petroleum was not in existence and the Commissioner was under the Office of the President.
“To whom did you report at the time?,” lawyer Farage quizzed. “I report to the Secretary General,” PW3 responded. He added that it was correct that the ministry of petroleum was established in 2014, and the highest office within the ministry then was the office of the minister followed by that of the permanent secretary.
Further responding to questions asked by the defence, Pw3 admitted that it was correct that the ministry of petroleum is housed at the Futurelec Building along the Bertil Harding Highway, but was quick to add that he could not remember when the minister occupied the said building.
“When did you meet Mr. MuntagaSallah?,” asked Farage. “I met him in 2006,” said the witness.
“Was he the Permanent Secretary at that time?” “No he was not.”
“Do you recall what position he occupied?” “I am not sure.”
“Was his position higher than yours as commissioner?” “No.”
At this stage, counsel for the accused told the witness that in fact he started as a civil servant in the year the accused was born.
“If he was born in 1981, yes,” he admitted.
“As Commissioner, what are your duties?” “My duties are assisting the minister in petroleum exploration and production, license negotiation and other assignments given by the minister.”
“So you will agree that your role as commissioner is more of a technical one?” ”Technical and administrative roles.”
“If your role as commissioner was administrative, then what is the role of the PS?” “The permanent secretary is the head of the administrative sector.”
“What other role does the PS play?” “As the head of administration at the ministry, he oversees all work within the ministry.”
“As the commissioner, did you have staff under you at the time?” “Yes, I had staff.”
“Was one of those staff deputy a commissioner?” “Yes.”
“What is the role of your deputy?” “Assist the commissioner in his responsibilities.” He added that it would be correct in his absence for someone to go to the deputy to deal with matters regarding exploration and production of petroleum.
Mr. Sanyang further told the Court that all matters go to the permanent secretary within the ministry.
“What about the administrative matters you mentioned, do they go to the PS or the deputy commissioner?,” asked Sallah’s attorney.
In reply, Pw3 said “Correspondences are addressed to the deputy in the absence of the PS.”
He said the correspondences are usually in both hard copy and in soft copy.
“Does the office of the minister or commissioner have its own legal adviser, or do you refer to the attorney general?” “The attorney general’s office is the adviser,” said the witness.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 24th of this Month for continuation of cross-examination.
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 alleged that the accused had stolen three HP computers worth $25,445 which he knew belonged to The Gambia government.
Mr. Sallah is also accused of abusing his office when he instructed, without approval, the purchase of the computers. The incident is said to have happened in the month of November, 2014, in Banjul. He pleaded not guilty as charged.