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We refused 5,000 Euros, 18,500 Euros offers, narcotics officer tells court

Sep 24, 2010, 11:54 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah & Bakary Samateh

Kebba I. Bojang a narcotics officer yesterday told the special narcotics court at the Banjul Magistrates' Court that they refused offers made to them by the 1st accused Muminatu Sissay, when they went to search her premises.

Bojang was testifying as the first prosecution witness in the cocaine trial involving four persons namely, Muminatu Sissay, Godwin Barset, Fernando Varella Ephriam and Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, all foreign nationals.

The four were recently arrested at Taf Housing Estate in Brufut after they were allegedly found with three parcels of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

The prosecutors claimed that the accused persons, on 12th May 2010, at Taf Housing Estate in Brufut, in the Western Region, were found in possession of 3 parcels of cocaine, a prohibited drug.

Testifying before the court, the first prosecution witness told the court that he is a narcotics officer attached to Brufut Ghana Town NDEA office.

He said that before they could start searching the house of the 1st accused Muminatu Ceesay, she first offered them 5,000 Euros, which they refused to take, and she again offered them 18,500 Euros, which they again refused to take.

According to Kebba Bojang, on 12th May 2010 he received a call from the NDEA station officer at Ghana Town, NCA2 Camara, who said that they should act on a tip off about the Taf Housing Estate where three people were suspected to be in possession of prohibited drugs.

"We departed for the place, and upon our arrival, we met two gentlemen, Godwin Barset, the 2nd accused, Fernando Varella, the 3rd accused, and the 1st accused Mumina Sisay," he told the court.

"We introduced ourselves as National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) officers, and said we were there to conduct a search in the premises," Bojang further told the court.

The 1st accused, he continued, asked them for their warrant card, which they produced. Then the 1st accused offered them 5,000 Euros, which they refused. She then told them that their purpose for being in the Gambia was to buy fish and export it to Holland.

Mr. Bojang said three officers were involved in the operation, including detective Sgt Sanneh from the police, NCA 2 Famara Camara of the NDEA and himself.

The narcotics officer further testified that they proceeded to search the house, and found three blocks of cocaine. It was then that the 1st accused made another offer of 18,500 Euros, which they again refused to take.

He adduced that the 1st accused subsequently told them that the three suspected blocks were given to her by one Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, who was at the time residing at Coco Ocean Hotel.

"We departed for Cocoa Ocean Hotel which led to the arrest of the 4th accused, Ephriam Micheal Chiduben, and they were taken to the NDEA station," he further revealed. "I wrote my statement to that effect," he concluded.

The case, which was presided over by Magistrate Hilary U Abeke, was at this juncture adjourned to 30th September 2010 for cross- examination.

Cocaine 9 Trial Adjourned

Meanwhile, in a similar and related development, the trial of nine other foreign nationals who were also arrested with over two and a half tonnes of cocaine in Bonto village was adjourned to 28 September 2010.

This followed an agreement between the defence counsel L.S Camara and DDPP M. Abdullahi for the court to adjourn for a ruling and continuation of cross-examination of the 1st prosecution witness, Momodou Lamin Kebbeh, Bonto?s alkalo (village head).

The nine accused persons are: Ephriam Micheal Chiduben a Nigerian national, Juan Carlos Sanchez, Eric Bottini, Dose Fermin, Juan Carlos Diaz, and Esteaban Zavala all Venezuelan nationals, George Sanchez a Mexican/Liberian national, as well as Rudy Rasoehamid Gazi and Dennis Wilgo Winter both Dutch nationals.

They are facing trial on a 10-count charge, including dealing in prohibited drugs for the purpose of trafficking, drug trafficking, importation of firearms without authority, having fire arms without authority, among others.

They all denied the charges.