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Gamcotrap Program Coordinator opens defence

Jan 12, 2012, 12:53 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Amie Bojang-Sissoho, program coordinator of Gamcotrap, yesterday opened her defence in the case involving her and Dr Isatou Touray, Gamcotrap’s executive director at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

It was alleged that the two prominent women’s rights activists in 2009 in Banjul and diverse places in The Gambia, jointly stole 30,000 Euros being money provided by the YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD of Spain to GAMCOTRAP.

In her defence, Amie Bojang Sissoho told the court that she started working for Gamcotrap as a volunteer and later became a staff member in 2005, as program coordinator.

She added that in 2007, she occupied the position of program coordinator, and that in the same year, two sisters, Partricia and Christine, came to visit them at the Gamcotrap office.

She said the two sisters visited them because they had seen the good work they are doing in the fight against female gential mutilation (FGM), adding that the two sisters suggested to them that they would introduce them to Yalocamba Solidariada based in Spain, and asked them to submit a proposal, which they did.

She confirmed the said proposal letter in court as the one they submitted to the Yalocamba, adding that the two sisters also promised to look for funding for Gamcotrap.

Asked by defence counsel whether the two sisters submitted the said proposal to Yalocamba Solidaridad in Spain, she answered in the affirmative.

 She further testified that after the two sisters left, Gamcotrap received a correspondence from the two sisters that Yalocamba had approved their proposal, and the organisation’s executive director was planning to come to The Gambia for a signing ceremony, and that the project would soon commence.

Still testifying, she told the court that before the date for signing the contract, the Executive Director of Yalocamba reportedly fell ill and she assigned one Suci to come and witness the signing ceremony on her behalf.

Ms Bojang said Suci was in the country for almost a week, and was taken to their project sites in the Upper River Region.

She added that Gamcotrap made their stance very clear, that is, that they are not micro-finance credit company, but instead work on women and children’s rights.

She told the court that the money given to circumcisers was not a loan, but instead a grant to motivate them to do something other than practicing FGM.

“We reached an agreement that Gamcotrap does not give credit, as we are not a micro-finance institution, and that was the basis of the signing of the contract,” she said.

Mrs Bojang-Sissoho revealed that Gamcotrap agreed that the contract would be based on the original proposal Gamcotrap submitted, and that it does not include micro-finance credit.

She said since the establishment of Gamcotrap in 1984, they did not give out loans to anybody, because their mandate is to fight for the rights of women and children against harmful practices.

She said as program coordinator, she engaged with the team in all activities to make sure that the project was implemented, and that she would be in a better position to know that Gamcotrap does not give out loans to people.

 She said that Suci came back to The Gambia to join Gamcotrap in the celebration of dropping the knives held at the Basse mini-stadium.

 “Suci went back to Spain, and part of the money was then sent to commence the project.

“In August 2009, the Executive Director of Yalocamba Solidadridad came to visit The Gambia to monitor the project. After her return back to Spain, she sent the balance of the money to complete the project, which Gamcotrap did,” she added.

When again asked by defence counsel whether she was aware that they were jointly charged with stealing 30,000 Euro from Yalocamba Solidaridad in Spain, she answered in the affirmative.

However, she said that as far as Gamcotrap is concerned they did not   receive such an amount.

At that juncture, the case was adjourned till 30 January 2012.