May 12, 2010, 12:04 PM
Lt. Col. Solo Bojang Monday opened his defence in the trial involving him and Anineh Jammeh, at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate SK Jorbateh.
Solo Bojang and Anineh Jammeh, both former employees of Kanilai Family Farm, are being tried under a two-count charge of theft and conspiracy, which both men denied.
When the case was called, the prosecuting officer, Sub-Inspector Sarr, said they were closing their case.
At that juncture, the magistrate asked the accused persons if they were ready for their defence and they said in the affirmative.
In his defence, the 1st accused, Solo Bojang, said he is a military officer in charge of Kanilai Farm at Kanilai, adding that he knew the 2nd accused and he knew why he was in court.
He said the 9 heads of cattle were given to him by the President when he went on tour in 2012, stating that when they came back from the tour, the president asked him to look for some people to cut some fence poles.
Solo said he then assigned the 2nd accused to look for people in Cassamance to cut some strips for him and the accused got some people interested to do it.
He said the president then asked them to keep the 9 cattle aside for the people that were going to cut the fence poles, adducing that every village was given a day to go and cut the fence poles.
There were 6 villages that participated in the cutting of the fence poles, he said, adding that when they were ready for the work, they called the 2nd accused who in turn would inform him that a particular village was coming to do the work and he would give them the ingredients and the cow.
He said the cattle were given to the 2nd accused to keep them in his orchard, stating that the cattle were entrusted to him by the president and he in turn gave them to the 2nd accused to keep.
He added that when they collected the cattle from the tour, they were told they had diarrhea, which was why it was packed aside to prevent it from being mixed with other cattle.
He said that from those 9 cattle, three of them died and when the two died, he was called by the 2nd accused about it because he was not in Kanilai.
Solo further revealed that when the 3rd cow died, he was called by the 2nd accused but he later saw it while passing by.
The purpose of the fence poles was that the president was given a large piece of land and when the president said they should cultivate it, he told him that they would fence it first for safety.
He revealed that he entrusted the 2nd accused with the cattle because they all worked together in the farm and he knew Cassamance, because, due to his job, he could not go to Cassamance.
He said the villages he invited to come and do the job were trusted by them, which was why they were called to come and do it.
Solo said that while transporting them, some tractors were apprehended due to problems, but he went there to negotiate until they were released.
He said he told Anineh to keep record of whatever he was collecting from the village, adding that the villages cut the strips and packed them on the road for them to go and pick him.
The collection continued till he was asked to hand over the farm to someone else, and was picked up by the NIA where they asked him about the 9 cattle and he explained everything to them, he continued.
He said the villages he gave the cattle to and the people are all available and the village they collected the fence poles from, and if they are asked, they would confirm it.
Under cross-examination by the 2nd accused, who asked him if he knew that they gave two bulls to Kanfunda, Solo said that was true.
The 2nd accused again asked him if he could recall that one of the bulls given was sick, Solo said it was true.
Responding to questions by the prosecutor, Sub-inspector Sarr, who asked Solo for how long he had been working for the Gambia National Army, Solo said he worked for them for 18 years.
Asked again if he was managing the whole of Kanilai Family Farm, but Solo answered in the negative.
Further asked if it was true that the 9 cattle were given to him after the president’s meet the people tour, Solo answered in the affirmative.
“When you entrusted the cattle to the 2nd accused, did you inform the president about it?” asked the prosecutor.
Solo said he informed the president.
“I put it to you that investigations revealed that you did not,” said the prosecutor. Solo said the 9 cattle were too many for him to give out without informing the president.
“Is it true that the 2nd accused is directly working under you?” the prosecutor enquired.
“No,” Solo answered.
“I put it to you that the 2nd accused is directly taking instructions from you,” the prosecutor stated.
Solo said they used to sit and discuss whenever they had work to do, but he was not answerable to him.
“Why you entrusted those cattle to the 2nd accused?” asked the prosecutor.
Solo said because he knew Cassamance better than he and he was the one that could take care of them.
Asked if he assigned the veterinary to examine the dead cow, but Solo answered in the negative, and said the dead cow had never been shown to the veterinary for examination because the veterinary was there to cure sickness.
“When the 2nd accused told you that the cow is sick, why you did not take it to the veterinary officer?” asked the prosecutor.
Solo said you could not take that to the veterinary officer because when injected, the cow could not be used as food.
“I put it to you that the cow that is sick should be given to the veterinary officer to determine if it is good for consumption or not,” said the prosecutor.
“Sometimes if there is no veterinary officer, you slaughter and eat it, and in this case, the cow is sick,” Solo answered.
“I put it to you that you cannot tell because you are not a veterinary officer,” said the prosecutor.
Solo said he had been a herdsman for 11years and know if the cattle could be killed for food.
“So it is true that the cattle were never sent by you to the veterinary for examination,” asked the prosecutor.
Solo said the cattle that were for slaughtering were never inspected by the veterinary.
“I am putting it to you that you did not take the cattle to the veterinary for inspection because you have the intention of conniving with the 2nd accused to steal the cattle,” the prosecutor said.
Solo said he did not steal any cattle and the villages are there to attest to that.
“Did you take the President to see the fence poles?” asked the prosecutor.
Solo said as a leader, he could not ask him but he put it on the road for him to see.
“As your portfolio there at the time, you are capable of taking the H.E. anywhere,” said the prosecutor.
But Solo said he could not do that to the president, because the president was the one that chooses where to go.
“I put it to you that you betrayed the trust the president had in you,” prosecutor stated.
Solo, while swearing to the holy Quran, said he could never betray the president.
The case was adjourned till 30 December 2013.