The GP officials are charged with eight counts following their alleged involvement in corruption, malpractices and the missing of US$20 million at the depot.
During their maiden court appearance at the High Court presided over by Justice Haddy Roche on Wednesday, Lawyer M.D. Mballow represented the State, while the lawyers B. S. Conteh, and S. Akimbo represented the 1st accused (Saihou Drammeh), and 2nd accused (Lamin Gassama) in the hearing.
On particulars, count 1 alleged that Saihou Drammeh and Lamin Gassama conspired to commit economic crimes, contrary to section 368 of the Criminal Code. Cap 10:01 vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009 but they both pleaded not guilty on all counts
Additionally, the particulars of the offence pointed out that between January 2021 and October 2021 at the depot, the accused acted together with a common purpose to commit felony and caused economic loss to The Gambia through an unauthorised disposal of petroleum products of international traders.
The duo on count two is alleged of stealing by clerk or servant, contrary to Section 245 (1) of the Criminal Code, and punishable under Section 258 of the Criminal Code. Cap 10:01, Vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009.
However, the particulars of the offence said that Mr. Drammeh, on or about the 16 September 2021 as general manager of the depot, stole US$235, 032.00 paid by GACH Global for the supply of petroleum product, the property of International traders in trust of Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Ltd; thereby committing an offence.
Count three accused the directors and officials of corporations or companies of fraudulently appropriating property, or keeping fraudulent accounts, contrary to section 301 (a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 vol. iii Laws of The Gambia 2009.
The particulars of the offence further stated that the 1st and 2nd accused, sometime between January 2021 and October 2021, fraudulently appropriated 5,919. 60 metric tons of Gasoil, valued at USD 4,695,189.94
The particulars continued that they stored at the depot 721.90 Metric tons of Gasoil, valued at USD 692, 323.76, being the property of ADDAX ENERGY SA, an International Oil Trader, in trust for Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility Ltd.
It further stated that the accused acted with intent to defraud, omitted to make a full and true entry thereof in the books and accounts of the Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot; thereby committed an offence.
Count 4 alleged that directors and officers of corporations or companies fraudulently appropriating property, or keeping fraudulent accounts, contrary to section 301(a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 Vol. Ill Laws of The Gambia 2009.
The particulars of the offence further said Drammeh, and Gassama, sometime between January 2021 and October 2021, at the depot fraudulently appropriated 6250.813 metric tons of Gasoil, and 5180.843 metric tons of Gasoline, valued at US$9, 930, 021, 86.
However, on Thursday, day two of the trial, the state lawyer, M. D. Mballow filed a counter affidavit before the court for the accused persons to remain in custody pending the determination of the case.
He said both the 1st accused person (Saihou Drammeh) and the 2nd accused person (Lamin Gassama) do not have strong family background in the Gambia and can easily jump bail, if granted.
In his submission, Lawyer S. Akimbo for the accused persons said the children and wives of the accused persons are not in The Gambia, but their brothers, sisters, uncles, fathers and mothers are in the country.
Justice Haddy C. Roche, ruling on the application for the court to grant the accused persons bail, pending the determination of the case said the there is no evidence that the accused persons have either attempted to interfere with witnesses or jump bail during the six months on police bail.
Justice Roche ordered that each of the accused persons be admitted to bail upon providing security in the sum of US US$10, 000, 000 with two Gambian sureties each in like sum of US$10, 000, 000.
She further ordered that each of the accused persons and sureties must deposit with the court, the original title deeds to their property confirmed to be valued in like sum of US $10, 000, 000.
The presiding judge, consequently, adjourned the case to Monday 9th May 2022, expecting the state to tender the first witness to testify.