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More revelations in GPA former directors’ trial

Sep 19, 2013, 10:17 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

Chief Inspector Amadou Kujabi of the Gambia police force was the third prosecution witness (PW3) to testify in the trial involving former senior officials of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before acting-Principal Magistrate Lamin Mbye.

Hali Abdoulie Gai, GPA’s former director of finance, and Abdoulie Tambedou, the institution’s former managing director, are being tried under a five-count indictment, which included two counts of neglect of official duty, and three counts of disobedience of statutory orders.

Chief Inspector Kujabi told the court that he recognised the accused persons,and that on 15 January 2013 he received instructions from his commanding officer to investigate the accused persons, in connection with the D150 million from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, SSHFC, for the purchase of two new ferries.

He added that another D30 million was also given to the ports management to buy new engines for the old ferries.

According to the witness, the GPA management said the money was not enough to buy new ferries, and decided to save the money in the account until they secured additional funds.

Officer Kujabi also told the court that an invoice with the letterhead of the SSHFC was signed by one Cham, the finance director, and it was confirmed by the witness, tendered in evidence and marked as an exhibit.

The witness further told the court that in 2010 the government of The Gambia had a loan agreement with an investor, called Galli Holding Company Ltd, under which they brought two new ferries.

He added that during the course of the investigation, the 1st accused, Hali Abdoulie Gai, acting-managing director of GPA at the time, received a letter from the Office of the President, urging the GPA management to take specific action.

He pointed out that the GPA took action, and according to the 1st accused person, going by both directives, instructed the finance director at the time, Abdoulie Tambedou, to approve $1,170,000 equivalent to D61,000,000.

The first accused person was the one acting as the managing director, when the second accused person was the director of finance; however, the second accused was later appointed as the managing director, and the first accused person was redeployed as the director of finance, the witness went on.

Asked by the state counsel, Amadou Jaiteh, where this funds were paid to, PW3 told the court that the said money was paid into an account, and it was through an internal memo from the director of finance, and that they later instructed the bank to transfer the money, which was D150 million.

He said the D150 million was purposely meant for the procurement of new ferries.

The second accused person also approved a payment of D2 million to Ballast Nadam for the procurement of three new vehicles, one heavy duty pumping machine, one welding machine and a generator, the state witness said.

He said there was another amount for procurement of spareparts for the rehabilitation, and for training costs for the local staff.

The witness told the court that, during the investigation, they discovered that since the payment was made in 2012, GPA neither received the spareparts nor the training of local staff.

PW3 further told the court that the investigation panel wentthe extra mile, approached the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), and askedwhether they participated in or were aware of any staff training or the purchasing of the mentioned items.

According to Chief Inspector Kujabi, GPPA managing director Tumbul Danso told the panel that he was not aware of such.

The witness confirmed a related letter in court, which was tendered as an exhibit.

Asked how the second accused person made the payment, PW3 told the court that the second accused person instructed his finance director to pay D30 million, which was meant for the rehabilitation of old ferries, and that a specific account was allocated for the funds to be paid into that account.

The case was then adjourned until today for continuation.