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GHE MD testifies in former Agriculture officials case

Jun 7, 2012, 1:39 PM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

Momodou A. Ceesay, the managing director of Gambia Horticultural Enterprises (GHE) yesterday testified as the second prosecution witness in the trial involving eight former ministry of Agriculture officials, at the Brikama High Court, before Justice Emmanuel Ahmadi.

They are Bakary Trawally, former permanent secretary, Momodou Mbye Jabang, former program coordinator, Modou Lamin Ceesay, businessman, Hawa Saye Touray, former supplies officer, Kekoi Kuyateh, former deputy permanent secretary, Dr Amadou Sowe, former permanent secretary, Dr Mustapha Ceesay, former deputy director of NARI, Seedy Jarju and Yusupha Jawara.

They were charged with five counts of economic crime, two counts of negligence of official duty and three counts of uttering false documents.

Mr. Ceesay told the court that GHE is in the agriculture business, and that he knew all the accused persons, except Modou Lamin Ceesay, the businessman.

He said he personally had been in the business for over 35 years now, and had been in horticulture for 20 years.

In 2009, he was in the farming and agric business, and could recall having an issue with fertilizer when his customers were calling and asking him about the fertilizer, which was from the Ministry of Agriculture, but the fertilizer was late to arrive.

“I told them that I knew nothing about the fertilizer, because I also normally bought government fertilizer and resold it,” he added.

Ceesay further told the court that, in 2009, he bought government fertilizer, but his customers said the fertilizer was not good.

Defence counsel at that juncture raised an objection, and cited the Evidence Act to support his argument, stating that piece of evidence was hearsay evidence. However, the objection was overruled.

The witness continued, saying that when he also applied the same fertilizer on his farm, he noticed that the fertilizer was not effective because the plants were not growing well, adding that he then stopped buying the 15, 15 brand.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel L. S. Camara, the witness said he is a horticulturist, and acquired a diploma in applied science in horticulture, and BSc in horticulture science and technology from the University of Australia.

He said he acquired his MSc in horticulture science from the University of New Zealand.

The witness admitted that he is not a soil scientist, but said he studied soil science in his horticulture course adding that, in 2009, his customers told him that the 15,15 brand was not good fertilizer.

Ceesay said the reason was that after applying the fertilizer, the crops were not doing well, adding that they did not tell him the time they applied the fertilizer and the crops they apply it on, or the part of the country where they applied the fertilizer.

What he could say was that he applied it on his crops, and he too noticed that it was not good, Ceesay told the high court

He added that he did not conduct any tests on the 15,15 brand. He applied the fertilizer before sowing the seeds, and he was not sure but the rainy season had then started.

“I applied the fertilizer on my crops, mainly vegetables,” he told the court, admitting that the 15,15 brand was also known as 15 ,15, 15.

He did not apply the fertilizer on the rice, but he used to cultivate rice.  Ceesay also informed the court that his farm is located in Kembujeh village.

The hearing of the case continues today.