Prosecution witness discharged in GNPC officials trial

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The presiding judge, Justice O. Ottaba of the High Court in Banjul, yesterday discharged Bakary Darboe, a security officer and the first prosecution witness, after the defence finished cross-examining him in the ongoing trial involving the state against the former petroleum minister Sira Wally Ndow-Njai and nine others.

The accused persons are Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy, Noah Touray and Madun Sanyang.

When the case was called, DPP S.H. Barkum appeared for the state alongside the DDPP, M.B. Abubaccar, and A. Yakubu.

Senior counsel A.A.B. Gaye, S.M. Tambadou, O.M.M. Njie, L.S. Camara, A.N.D. Bensouda, A.S. Sabally, Badou Conteh, Y. Senghore, B. Bouye, Emmanuel Chime, C.E. Mene, S. Taal and S. Sillah appeared for the defendants.

The prosecution witness was then called into the courtroom and entered the witness box, and lawyer Awa Sisay-Sabally, counsel for the 4th accused, and lawyer Emmanuel Chime, counsel for the 6th accused, told the court they have no questions for the witness.

However, counsel for the 7th accused, lawyer Christopher E. Mene, told the court he had some few questions for the witness, Bakary Darboe.

The witness, he said, had earlier informed the court that he was among the panel that prepared exhibit G as a result of the team’s investigation.

To this the witness replied in the affirmative.

He was then given the said exhibit G to peruse, and was asked if he was conversant with the exhibit, to which Darboe also replied in the affirmative.

The witness was then asked to read exhibit G to the hearing of the court, which he did.

Lawyer Mene said the words in paragraph two, in the report, referred to a report on a due diligence mission that was conducted by the 7th accused and several of the other accused persons in Dubai in Match Petroleum, between 4 and 13 July 2015.

Lawyer Mene then asked him if he had seen the report he referred to in paragraph two of exhibit G. The witness replied in the affirmative.

At this juncture, lawyer Mene applied to tender the said report, and it was admitted as an exhibit.

“Apart from the due diligence that was conducted in Dubai by the 7th accused and the other accused persons, was there any other due diligence that was conducted in Qatar to your knowledge?”

“Not to my knowledge,” replied Darboe.

“It is correct that the due diligence was a fact-finding mission, and to also determine the capability of Match Petroleum to continue to supply petroleum products to GNPC,” lawyer told the witness.

At this juncture, the DPP objected to the line of questioning, stating that lawyer Mene was reading from the document.

“The contract between GNPC and Match Petroleum has been terminated?” counsel then asked the witness.

“I cannot confirm.”

“Take a look at paragraph 7 of the exhibit, which was prepared by the investigation team, and read it to the hearing of the court.”

“Do you still maintain your earlier answer to whether you don’t know that the contract was terminated?”

“I don’t know.”

“As at the date you came up with the question about the contract between Match Petroleum and GNPC, had it already been terminated?”

“I cannot confirm, as we don’t have any official document.”

“When was the contract terminated?”

“I don’t know when the contract was terminated.”

“Who terminated the contract between the Match Petroleum and GNPC?”

“I don’t know, as it is beyond my knowledge.”

“Do you still maintain your statement that the panel carried out a thorough investigation?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“When you came up with question 7 on exhibit G, did you know whether or not the contract between GNPC and Match Petroleum had been terminated?”

“No, Sir.”

“Then where did question number 7 come from?”

“It came from the panel.”

At this point, Lawyer Mene rephrased his question.

“As at the date the panel came up with question number 7, did the panel know that the contract had been terminated?”

“I don’t know, because there is no official document regarding the termination of the contract.”

“As at the time you concluded your investigation, did you know whether GNPC was still receiving supply from Match Petroleum?”

“I don’t know.”

At this juncture, defence counsel Mene informed the court that he was done with the witness, and the witness was then discharged by the presiding judge.

 The matter was then adjourned until 23 November 2016, for the hearing to continue.

Author: Bruce Asemota