By Rohey Jadama
Maimuna Sey, the Secretary to the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and also the Data Entry Clerk of the Rural Finance Project, under the ministry of agriculture, yesterday, 26th November, 2015 testified in the trial involving Lamin Fatajo, former Coordinator of the said project and two others.
The other accused persons are Lamin Mass, former acting Finance and Administrative Manager of Rural Finance Project and Madam Ada Gaye, former Agriculture Permanent Secretary.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) appeared for the state, while Fatajo and Mass were represented by lawyers Borry S.Touray and Edward Singhatey represented Fatajo and Mass, and Madam Gaye by Sheriff M. Tambedou.
Madam Sey told the court that she lives in Bakau and was the Secretary to the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer as well as the Data Entry Clerk of the project. She said she recognised Mr. Fatajo and that he was the former project Coordinator of the project. She added that she also recognised Mr. Lamin Mass, the former acting Finance and Administrative Manager.
The witness told the court that sometime on the 13th February, 2013, she applied for a 3-month’s salary advance in the sum of thirteen thousand, one-hundred and seventy-five bututs from the management i.e. the project coordinator and the acting finance and administrative manager.
“Approval was granted and I was given the loan, which was to be paid within 6 months and which I paid by instalment in September, 2014. I also travelled to Togo for 19 days to attend a gender and regional forum for the International Funds for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded project,” said the witness.
Under cross-examination by Lawyer Touray, the witness was asked how many times she received salary advances. “Three times,” she responded.
“Can you remember who was the project Coordinator the first time you applied for salary advance?” asked defence counsel. “It was Dr. Alassan Bah and he was the Coordinator when I applied for it the second time too,” responded the witness.
“All the three salary advances given to you, is it correct that you paid all?” enquired Lawyer Touray. The witness responded in the positive.
“Are you still working with the project?” “No,” said the witness.
“Are you aware as to whether IFAD has complained about this salary advances either to you or any staff?” “No,” replied the witness.
“This salary advance paid to you, was it ever queried by auditors?”, “No.”
“Who did you write to pertaining the salary advances?” “I wrote to the Coordinator of the project and I copied it to the Finance and Administrative Manager.”
“Do you know that the Coordinator has powers to approve salary advances?” “Yes.”
“It is Correct that this salary advances were not a subject of query by the project management team?” “No.”
“Was it queried by the implementation support mission?” “No.”
“Was it also queried by the direct supervision mission?” “No.”
“The money that is funding the project which institution owns it?” “IFAD.”
“This salary advances has it caused loss to the economy of the Gambia?” “No.”
“The per diem paid to you, was it in excess to the money that you are entitled to?” “No.”
At this juncture, the trial judge enquired from Lawyer Tambedou, Defence Counsel for Madam Gaye whether he has questions for the witness and he responded in the negative.
The case was subsequently adjourned to 15th December, 2015 at 11am for continuation of hearing.