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In treason trial, Lie Joof, Rambo testify

Jun 14, 2010, 2:04 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

Two businessmen in the ongoing treason trial involving them and six others, Abodoulie Joof alias Lie Joof and Yusuf Ezideen alias Rambo, both testified on Friday 11th June 2010 before Justice Emmanuel Amadi at the high court in Banjul.

Abdoulie Joof the seventh defence witness (DW7) started his testimony on Thursday 10th June 2010. He told the court that he is 68 years six months old and lives at Fajara. He added that he is a clearing and forwarding agent.

"I conduct my business in the name of Nyohobaye and Sons at No.58 ECOWAS Avenue in Banjul," Lie Joof told the court.

"I knew the 1st accused in the Gambia Ports Authority premises, when he approached me with a bill of lading, that he had a car to clear for him. I cleared the car, and he paid me for my services, and this was in 1995."

"I don't know where the 1st accused lives. The evidence of PW1 that I attended three meeting at the 1st accused's residence was a blatant lie, and also the evidence of PW1 that he saw me give a cheque to the 1st accused was also a blatant lie and fabrication.

"I have a bank account at Bank PHB in the name of Nyohobaye and Sons," he disclosed. He was shown a bank statement bearing the name of Nyohobaye from Bank PHB from 5th January 2009 to 31st December 2009.

The defence counsel, SM Tambedou applied to tender the bank statement bearing the name of Nyohobaye and Sons, which was admitted by the court without any objection from the prosecution, and marked as an exhibit.

"I attended the 1st accused late father's funeral in Sifoe and 7 day charity together with ministers, senior army officers and diplomat and all service chiefs. I have no interaction with the 1st accused," he added.

"I called the 1st accused by phone to tell him that I was unable to attend the 40 day charity of his later father, and I had sent someone with an amount of D2, 500 as my charity contribution," he told the court.

"I don't know PW1. I came to know PW1 in the court-room, and that was the first time I have seen him. I did not know why PW1 was saying all this about me. It was a fabricated lie," he added. 

On 21st November 2009, at around 3.30 pm, he added, "I was in the office of one of my clients at ECOWAS Avenue, when two NIA officers came and asked me to accompanied them to the NIA headquarters, because they have certain things to clarify with me. I went with them to the NIA at Marina Parade and on arrival, I was invited to a panel of investigation."

Continuing his testimony on Friday 11th June 2010, DW7 told the court that, "at the panel, I recognised some NIA officers. I was asked whether I know the 1st accused, and I told them 'Yes, I knew him since he was a lieutenant.' I was later asked when I last saw him, and I told them at his father's funeral in Sifoe village Western Region. They again asked whether three weeks ago I went to his compound, and I told them that I have never been to his compound."

"My lord, this were the three questions the panel asked," he added.
According to DW7, they then asked one officer to bring Ebrima Marreh. Before he came, I was told to enter a toilet around the conference room by an NIA officer.

"I entered the toilet with an escort, where I was asked to listened to what Ebrima Marreh was coming to say," he told the court.

"I heard Ebrima Marreh telling the panel that I attended a charity at the first accused person's house in Kololi. My lord, PW15 in this case asked Ebrima to describe me, and Ebrima described me. But they were not satisfied that Ebrima said I was a short man with big stomach, and that I drive a white car."

According to DW7, "after the panel knew that the description about me was not correct," he was escorted out.

"I don't know this Ebrima, neither to ever see him. I was never confronted with PW1, what PW15 said that I was confronted with Ebrima was not true," Lie Joof further stated.

He adduced that after Ebrima left with his escort, "they called me back, and PW15 asked another NIA officer to bring the 1st accused. The 1st accused was asked whether he knows Lie joof, and he replied that he knows me. They again asked him when he last saw Lie Joof, and he said at his late father's funeral at Sifoe."

DW7 said the last question the panel asked the 1st accused was whether I have ever been to his house, and that "the 1st accused responded that I have never been to his house." "The former Deputy CDS, Yankuba Drammeh, was also present there, and told me 'my brother, you don't need to worry, because I was also arrested since last Friday' ," he further stated.

"My lord, that was when I was taken to Mile 2, on the 21st November 2009. I was detained up to the 1st February 2010, when I was taken from Mile 2 to NIA headquarters in Banjul, to the office of the Director General. The DG NIA informed us that we were released by the President on the recommendation of the panel, and the DG apologised for our long detention and stay, and asked us to take it in good faith. I was released and I went home," Lie Joof informed the court.

"The next day, around 10 am in the morning, coming down to Banjul to see my doctor, because I was sick, I received a telephone call from the NIA that I should return to the office of the Director of Operations. Then I came direct to the NIA headquarters, and I went to the Director of Operations, who told me to wait because the DG NIA wants to see me. I was there for thirty minutes, and the 2nd accused arrived. Five minutes later, the 8th accused also arrived. We were there until 4 pm in the evening.

"The Director of Operations told me that DG is ashamed to face us, and he further explained to us that they have investigated everything, and nothing was found against us; that was why we were released.

"He stated that it was the DPP who requested for our re-arrest, because he was studying the files. He further said they will be knocking at the DPP's doors for legal backing." According to Lie Joof, they were subsequently taken to Mile 2 Central Prison.

At DPP's office 
DW7 further explained to the court how he went to the DPP's office, and about the offers and his rejection.

"On the 9th of February 2010, I was sick and brought to Banjul, and was taken to the DPP's office, where the DPP told me that there was a coup plot, and that I was one of the financiers.

"My lord, the DPP offered to release me if I made a witness statement and accepted my involvement. He said he will release me to go home. I told the DPP that I cannot make a statement to be a witness in something I don't know."

"My lord, I told the DPP that I am a staunch supporter of the President and the APRC party. I told Mr. Chenge that am 68 years 6 months old, have got three wives with so many children, and that one of my wives was an adopted sister of the President, since 1999."

"I further told the DPP that I am the adopted father of soldier town ward of Banjul APRC women's wing. I told the DPP that I am sick, and he telephoned the DG NIA for me to be taken to hospital. I was told that there was an infirmary (clinic) at Mile 2, and I was taken back to Mile 2 Central Prison. I was appointed by the President as a member of the monitoring group of the Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA). My appointment letter was from the Office of the President."

At this juncture, defence counsel SM Tambedou applied to tender the said appointment letter as an exhibit, and its was marked as an exhibit without any objection from the prosecutor.

"I contribute a lot to the APRC government, and even during a political rally held at July 22 Square, where I was even awarded a certificate by the President." The certificate was also tendered, and marked as an exhibit.

Lie Joof told the court that the charges against him are not true. "I am 1000 percent loyal to the President, and he the President knows," DW7 declared, adding that he did not conspire with anybody.

He said he did not know the 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused persons, adding that he used to see the 5th accused around the police headquarters, but denied knowing him.

He adduced that he knows the 6th accused, but has not seen him for six years now. About the 8th accused person, DW7 added that he used to see him around.

Cross examination by the DPP 
DPP: You are a business tycoon here in The Gambia?

Lie: I am not a business tycoon. I am an employee of a clearing agent.

DPP: You are called to many functions, where you donate generously?

Lie: That's not true. I don't have time for functions, and I donate generously to the APRC.

DPP: Can you tell the court the idea of how you donate to APRC?

Lie: I don't know.

DPP: Well, I will be right when I said you gave D100 million.

Lie: That is not true. If I have that, I will not be an employee.

DPP: At the funeral of the 1st accused's father, you gave him D35, 000?

Lie: That's not true. I only gave him D2, 500

DPP: You said you don't have any quarrel with Ebrima Marreh?

Lie: I don't know him. How can I quarrel with someone I don't know.

DPP: Can you tell this court why someone who did not know you, will come here and lie against you?

Lie: I don't know. It was just fabricated.

DPP: PW15 said you were confronted with Ebrima Marreh?

Lie: I was never confronted with Ebrima. I came to know him in this courtroom.

DPP: You have attended a meeting in the house of the 1st accused with other accused persons?

Lie: My lord, that's not true. I don't know where he lives.

DPP: You gave D50 million to the 1st accused for arms?

Lie: That is not true; it's a lie.

DPP: You will be happy to see that the 1st accused is the head of state?

Lie: I don't compare anybody with the President. Even if I am going to my grave, I will go with my support for the President.

Yusuf Ezideen alias Rambo Testifies

The 8th accused person, Yusuf Ali Ezideen, was the last accused person to testify before Justice E Amadi during Friday's court sitting. His testimony is expected to continue at the high court today.

The 8th accused, DW8, told the court that he was called Rambo since 1987, after his arrival in The Gambia. He originally came from Lebanon, he added.

He started with manufacturing slippers in Banjul. He also brought goods from America, and now deals in furniture. He said his new business location was given to him by the government, which premises he built within two years.

He added that he took two loans, at GT Bank and Prime Bank, to complete his building located along Kairaba Avenue.

Rambo told the court that he is banking with GTBank, Prime Bank, BSIC, SCB, and that he has two properties in the Gambia.

"I have a wife and four children. My nationality is Gambian, and all my family are Gambians. They were all born here, and schooled at Marina International School. I have official contracts with the government of The Gambia, since 1996, when I brought a container of electrical materials including tape recorders, TV set, videos, among others, and gave them to the security officers for long-term payment. I seek advice from the 1st accused to go about it."

"I participated in all state events by invitation, and I also honour the invitation and the government with my participation. It even awarded me with a certificate for my support in sport and APRC. I was awarded a medal by HE the President as a friend of the armed forces."

He added that is why his business is called One Plus One enterprises.

His lawyer, Hawa Sisay Sabally, applied to tender the said certificate, which was tendered and marked as an exhibit without any objection from the prosecution.

The witness was also shown a gold plated medal given to him by the President during the July 22 anniversary celebration, which was also marked as an exhibit.

DW8 adduced that he knows the President, and that he always sees him off and receives him at the airport.

On the 22nd November 2009, he added, "I was invited to a state banquet in honor of the visiting Iranian President at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. The next day, 23rd November, I was arrested at around 8 am in the morning at my residence, and was taken to the NIA headquarters where I was taken to the conference room, and waited for 10 hours. Then I was taken to face the panel of investigators."

Continuation of the testimony of the 8th accused person will proceed at the high court in Banjul today at 1 pm.