Yerro Saidy, a police officer, yesterday revealed the findings of an audit
report during investigation of the criminal case involving Ebrima Jawara,
former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, and three others
before Justice E.O. Dada of the Banjul High Court.
The other accused persons are Dr Alasan Bah, former project coordinator of the Rural Finance Project, Sulayman Manneh, former project accountant of the Rural Finance Project, and Hassan Jallow.
Continuing his evidence, officer Saidy said their investigation was centred on the audited report received from the National Audit Office.
According to the witness, the report raised various issues. However, before he could finish talking, defence counsel Mene objected to the piece of evidence, arguing that the witness could not give evidence on a document that was not before the court.
Lawyer Hawa Sisay-Sabally also adopted the objection of lawyer Mene, and further submitted that the witness was not the maker of the said report and that, even if the document was before the court, they would not be able to cross-examine the witness on it because he was not the maker of it.
Responding to the objections of the defence counsel, state counsel Lamin Jarju argued that the objection was “misleading” because the witness was part of the investigation team, and that he was stating facts based on the report.
He further argued that the witness was giving facts that transpired and he was not going through the content of the document.
He, therefore, urged the court to overrule the objection.
Lawyer Mene said his learned friend had misconceived their objection, saying they were objecting to the witness going through the content of the audit report, not his evidence.
In her ruling, Justice Dada sustained the objection of the defence counsel and ordered the prosecuting counsel to guide the witness on the report.
Responding to questions from prosecutor Jarju, the witness adduced that during the investigations, the accused persons were asked questions based on the queries on the audited report.
Asked whether there were findings, the witness responded in the positive.
He said that during their investigation, it was discovered that the former project coordinator, Alasan Bah (2nd accused person), received advanced fuel allocation of D100,500.
“The panel found out that he handed over only D19,000 to Ebrima Jawara (1st accused) leaving the balance of D81,500.”
The panel further found out that Mr Bah had paid tuition fees for non-project staff, and one of them was found to be his nephew,” said the witness.
Officer Saidy further told the court that D130,000 was allocated to the project coordinator (Mr Bah) for his monthly fuel allowance, while D80,000 was allocated for Sulayman Manneh (3rd accused) for his monthly fuel allowance.
He further told the court that the accused persons claimed that it was approved by the project steering committee, but they did not substantiate this.
Under cross- examination by lawyer Mene, the witness was asked whether their finding was contained in a report and the witness responded in the positive.
Asked whether he had a copy of the said report in court, he responded in the negative.
When further asked whether his oral evidence in court was contained in the said report, he responded in the positive.
At this juncture, lawyer Mene urged the court to order the witness to provide the defence with a copy of the said report.
Subsequently, the case was adjourned until 18 October 2016, at 11am for continuation of the hearing.
The witness was ordered by the court to produce the said police report.