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Case of former fisheries director and co progresses

Feb 17, 2016, 9:40 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The case of three senior fisheries officials charged with five counts of economic crime, neglect of official duty and disobedience of statutory duty, continued yesterday before Justice Mahoney of the Banjul High Court.

The officials are former fisheries director Nfamara Dampha, senior fisheries assistant Abdoulie Njie and Musa Jawla.

The case proceeded with the continuation of the evidence of one Abdourahman Jobe, a detective officer.

When the case was called, DPP S.H. Barkun represented the state while defence counsel H.S. Sabally, L.S. Camara and Bachilly appeared for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused respectively.

The prosecution witness, Abdourahman Jobe, said the 10 per cent fishing catch revenue was a licence condition being implemented by the former Minister of Fisheries to make fish available to the Gambian market, and to make cash payable to the government.

He said the surveillance and control unit were the ones responsible for that, adding that Mr Gabidon was the head of the unit assisted by the 3rd and 2nd accused, and the 1st accused was the director.

Asked by the DPP to tell who Omar Faal is, the witness said Omar Faal was caught for illegal fishing and fined D10,000 by the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which comprises the representatives of the Attorney General’s Chambers and Interior ministry.

He said the director of fisheries was responsible for the D10,000 implementation, and that at the time of their investigation the amount was not recovered and the reason given was that they could not recover the amount simply because the defendant did not honour the fine made against him.

DPP then told him that he earlier made mention of an audit report, and the witness said the audit report was compiled by the National Audit Office in twofold: one covered January 2008 to August 2012.

DPP then showed him the document and he identified the document shown to him, and DPP applied to tender it in court.

However, senior counsel Hawa Sisay-Sabally said they were objecting to the tendering of the document on the grounds that the witness was not the author of the document.

She said the witness had stated in his evidence that he was part of the investigation panel in 2014.

Senior counsel Sabally said the document DPP wanted to tender was dated 2008 to August 2012, adding that the witness by his own evidence again stated that after the investigation the auditor prepared the report and submitted it to the IGP in 2015.

Counsel said the document had a management letter that was not addressed to the IGP, but addressed to the PS at the Ministry of Fisheries and copied to the Office of the President.

She said if the document was allowed to go in through the witness who did not prepare the report, the accused would not be able to cross-examine him on the document.

She said the witness could not answer questions on the report.

DPP, however, urged the court to overrule the objection after citing sections of the Evidence Act.

The case continues today for ruling on the admission of the document.

The particulars of offence in count one state that Nfamara Dampha, Abdoulie Njie and Musa Jawla between the years 2013 and 2014 at Banjul in the Banjul Municipality within the jurisdiction of the court, being the Director of Fisheries Department, Senior Fisheries Assistant, and Assistant Fisheries Officer respectively at the Ministry of Fisheriesand Department of Water Resources, willfullyand or recklessly caused monetary loss to the Government of the Gambia by under-assessing 10% fishing catch revenue amounting to D2,389,738.25.

Count two stated that the 1st accused in 2012, in his capacity as director, willfully and or recklessly caused monetary loss to the Government of The Gambia by failing to recover the sum of three million, thirty-four thousand one hundred dalasis and five bututs being arrears from four fishing vessels.

Count three stated that the 1st accused on the same date, year and place, in his capacity as director of fisheries, willfully and or recklessly caused monetary loss to the Gambian Government by failing to recover the sum of D10,000 from one Omar Faal who was acting as an agent for two fishing vessels arrested for illegal fishing in Gambia waters.

Count four stated that the 1st accused between 2009 and 2014 at the same place being director of fisheries failed to keep fuel coupon register book.

Count five stated that the 1st accused in 2013 at the same place as director of fisheries willfully contravened the Gambia Public Procurement Act and Regulations and awarded a contract to Taba Ni Sita Construction.