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Sabally denies ‘willfully or negligently’ delaying VP’s flight from South Africa

Jun 24, 2015, 11:02 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The former Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Momodou Sabally, yesterday denied ‘willfully and negligently’ delaying the Vice President, Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy’s flight from South Africa, as alleged before Justice Amadi of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

Continuing his defence, Sabally said that during the whole day of the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, which was on 24 May 2014, no one in the VP’s entourage contacted him until late in the evening, when he got a call from Ndey Haddy Jeng that the flight was ready for departure.

He said that when the call came, he was in a meeting and he told Ndey Haddy Jeng that he was going to rush and join them.

When asked by senior counsel Gaye what type of meeting he was attending, Sabally said it was a meeting emanating from instructions from the President, and it was part of assignments he was supposed to conclude while in South Africa.

He added that Lette then gave him a ride to the hotel where he packed his luggage quickly, while the VP’s convoy had already left for the airport.

He said Seedy Lette drove him with Professor Kah, and they drove through the evening Johannesburg traffic to the airport.

Sabally said when they reached the departure lounge, the VP and her team had already boarded the aircraft.

He boarded the aircraft, greeted everyone including the VP and also apologised for any inconvenience caused to the team, he said.

“I sat down in the aircraft, no one expressed any complaint for my coming in slightly late and the atmosphere was cordial as usual,” he said.

He added that as the head of the delegation, the VP had the final say and was in charge of the aircraft as to when it should move.

He said he always referred to VP as her boss and head of the delegation, and culturally VP is old enough to be her mother.

On the delay of the aircraft in Banjul, according to the charge sheet, Sabally said he found it confusing that the charge for the delay of the aircraft in Banjul - even though he did not agree – stated that the same delay allegedly happened in South Africa.

He said what happened in South Africa was said to have also happened in Banjul.

He also said the slight delay in him joining the VP on the state aircraft happened in Johannesburg.

He said he would estimate the time to be half an hour.

“One of the prosecution witnesses said in Banjul at the international airport, what do you have to say to that?” counsel asked.

“We were leaving for South Africa on 22 May 2014. I requested for PR materials because I was part of the team working on improvement of PR so I requested for copies of the NewAfrican Magazine that features an interview of the President,” he said.

“I also requested for books that featured the President’s development achievements; then I proceeded to the airport to join the team. A staff from the President’s household told me that they were sending the materials to me,” he said.

He arrived at the airport before the materials, he was there with the VP and team, and they all waited for the material to arrive without anyone complaining, he told the court.

He also said the waiting was not even up to an hour before the materials arrived, and they departed for South Africa.

On what transpired between him (Sabally) PW1, PW2 and PW10 with regard to the vehicles, Sabally said PW1, Sheikh Omar Bah, sometime last year informed him about one Alassan Ndoye.

He said PW1 and he (Sabally) used to work together at the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG) from 1999 to 2009, while PW1 was a messenger and he (Sabally) was an economist in the same department.

He added that when he left CBG in 2009, his relationship with PW1 continued as he ran errands for him and his family.

He said PW1 told him that Ndoye had two cars that he wanted to donate to the President, and he (Sabally) was too busy to meet with Ndoye and, after about two weeks, he granted an audience to Ndoye at his house in Kerr Serign.

The case continues on 25 June 2015.