GNPC MD testifies in former Petroleum PS trial

By Mamadou Dem

Momodou S. O. Badgie, the current managing director of Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC), who is also the fifth prosecution witness in the theft and abuse of office trial of Muntaga Sallah, the former permanent secretary at the ministry of petroleum, yesterday, 5 April, 2016 continued his testimony before Principal Magistrate Omar Cham of the lower court in Banjul.

During his evidence-in-chief when the case resumed after a lull, Mr Badgie explained the reasons that warranted him to appear before the court to give evidence. He said he could not remember exactly when the said ministry finally had a sitting officer. He, however, recalled that Tenengba Jaiteh was the one appointed as the minister of the said ministry in 2009 but that he was not sure when she left the post.

“I cannot remember the exact date Mrs. Jaiteh was appointed and I cannot tell the court something I don’t know and I cannot recall the year when the said ministry was set up. I know that Mrs. Jaiteh was once appointed as a deputy minister but I don’t know how long she served in that post, neither her terms of reference,” said the GNPC managing director.

When asked whether there was any minister at the inception of the ministry, the witness responded: “There was no minister appointed. Instead there was a commissioner of petroleum who was Fafa Sanyang before the appointment of deputy permanent secretary and a minister but I cannot acknowledge how long Mr Sanyang served in that post.”

When quizzed by the lawyer for the accused, Janet Sallah Njie, who was appearing with Lawyer Lubna Farage, as to whether the commissioner has the mandate to approve expenditures, PW5 responded in the negative.

The defence lawyer at this point applied to tender the memo that was addressed to the witness after he acknowledged that the memo in question was addressed to him for identification purposes. It was then admitted and marked as ID.

At this stage, the case was adjourned to 20th April, 2016 for continuation.

Mr Sallah is standing trial on three counts of criminal offences ranging from stealing, theft and abuse of office. He was alleged to have purchased three HP computers at a tune of $25, 400 without approval from the minister of petroleum at the time and which items he later stole and took to his home. He however denied the charges.