By Landing Ceesay
The Defence Lawyer Christopher E. Mene, has cross-examined the Fourth Prosecution Witness in Gam Petroleum Corruption Scandal trial at the High.
Ousman M. Bah, supervisor at the control room of Gam Petroleum Storage Facility Depot in Lamin Mandinary is the fourth Prosecution Witness (PW4) in the trial involving two Staff of Gam Petroleum.
The 2 staff namely Saihou Drammeh (1st accused), former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama (2nd accused), former Operations Manager of the institution are charged with 8 counts (3 counts of economic crimes and 5 other counts) in the alleged corruption scandal.
The eight counts are levelled against the two in their maiden court appearance at the High Court in Banjul on 4th April 2022 presided over by Justice Haddy Roche.
Their appearance in court followed their arrest regarding their alleged involvement in the alleged corruption, malpractices and the missing of USD 20 million at the depot.
During the examination, PW4 told the Court that he has been working at Gam Petroleum since 1st May, 2009 and knows how petroleum products are uplifted at the depot in Mandinary.
The Defence lawyer then asked him whether it is correct to say that the procedures he (PW4) explained are the same procedures existing at Gam Petroleum before the appointment of the 1st and 2ndaccused persons as Managing Director and Operations Manager.
“As far as I know and as much as operations are concerned at Gam Petroleum, the only thing that changes is the uplifting of the tickets from time to time. But other than that, whenever a company is loading from the depot through the control room, they must provide a delivery note to the control room. This is the procedure, since 2009 I was employed at Gam Petroleum,” the witness responded.
The Defence lawyer: “Before the 1st and 2ndaccused persons assumed office who were the General Manager and Operations Manager.” The witness said it was Michael Jeralding, as General Manager and Muhammad Bazzi Jr, as Operations Manager.
“The procedure that is followed at Gam Petroleum’s control room, was it the same thing under Michael Jeralding and Muhammad Bazzi Jr?” the Defence lawyer asked. “Yes” the witness responded.
The Defence Lawyer then asked the witness whether there is any other procedure of loading a truck at Gam Petroleum without the control room. The witness said as far as he knows, there is no other procedure other than the one he explained to the court.
When the Defence lawyer asked whether it’s correct that the 1st and 2nd accused persons took the same system they found at Gam Petroleum. The witness responded in the positive.
“You said the ticket you generate used to carry the names of Michael Jeralding and Muhammad Bazzi Jr?” the Defence Lawyer asked. “Yes,” the witness responded.
“Is it correct that the system generated the names of the General Manager and the Operations Manager at that time,” the Defence Lawyer asked. The witness said the IT department at Gam Petroleum are responsible for that.
Defence Lawyer: “The system generated the names on the tickets automatically after the IT department inserted the names of the General Manager and the Operations.” The witness responded.
“None of the tickets you have tendered in this court have been actually signed by the 1st accused person?” the Defence Lawyer asked. “None of them are signed by the 1st accused” the witness responded.
“What about the 2nd accused?” Defence lawyer asked. “I saw his signature on the Petro Gas ticket,” the witness responded.
The Defence Lawyer then asked the witness how many tickets have he seen the signature of the 2ndaccused on. “I saw only one ticket,” the witness responded.
Defence Lawyer: “Are you one of the persons delegated signatures of the tickets at Gam Petroleum?” “Yes,” the witness responded.
Asked whether he has copies of authorization tickets, the witness responded in the negative.
The Defence lawyer then asked whether the procedure of signing on behalf of the General Manager and the Operations Manager had been at Gam Petroleum before the 1st and 2nd accused assumed office; and the witness said ‘yes’.
“Is it not the case that you simply follow an existing practice in signing the tickets on behalf of the people?” the Defence lawyer asked. The witness responded in the negative.
The Defence lawyer then put it to the witness that neither the 1st accused, nor the 2nd accused delegated him (PW4) to sign on their behalf. But the witness insisted that both the 1st and 2nd accused did delegate him to sign a ticket on their behalf.
The Defence Lawyer then asked whether Muhammad Bazzi ever authorized him (PW4) to sign tickets on his behalf. The witness insisted that Muhammad Bazzi never authorized him to sign any document on his behalf.
The Defence Lawyer then put it to the witness that he is too junior for 1st and 2nd accused persons to delegate him (PW4) to sign something on their behalf than Lamin Touray who is next to the 2ndaccused. But the witness insisted that both him and Lamin Touray were authorized to sign on their behalf.
“That is not the case,” the Defence Lawyer put it to the witness. But the witness insisted that it was the case.
“The tickets you claimed the 2nd accused sign were not actually seen by him,” the Defence Lawyer told the witness. “Even if he did not see the tickets at the initial stage, he will see them at the finishing stage,” the witness responded.
“I am putting it to you that it is not true,” the Defence Lawyer said and added that both accused persons have never seen the evidence tendered in the court by the witness.
Lawyer M.D. Mballow represented the State, while lawyers Christopher E. Mene, B. S. Conteh, S. Akimbo, Bakurin Pauline, and Sasum Sillah represented the 1st accused and 2nd accused persons in the hearing.