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PW1 Testifies In Gam Petroleum Saga Trial

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Saihou Drammeh, former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama, former Operations Manager at the Gambia Petroleum Storage depot in Lamin Mandinary sitting the High Court in Banjul on 4th April 2022

The first Prosecution Witness (PW1), Amadou Keita, senior Gambia Petroleum Finance Manager, on Monday (yesterday) commenced his testimony in the Gambia Petroleum saga trial at the High Court.  

Saihou Drammeh (1st accused), former Managing Director and Lamin Gassama (2nd accused), former Operations Manager at the Gambia Petroleum are charged with 8 counts (3 counts of economic crimes and 5 other counts) in the alleged corruption saga.

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 on their alleged involvement in the alleged corruption, malpractices and the missing of USD 20 million at the depot.

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.

In yesterday’s hearing, the lawyer for the State M.D. Mballow submitted seven (7) Prosecution Witnesses statements to the Court. The first Prosecution Witness to testify was Mr. Amadou Keita, senior Finance Manager at Gambia Petroleum Storage Facility depot in Lamin Mandinary.

Giving his testimony before the Court, Mr. Keita said he has been working at Gam Petroleum for four and half years now, and that he knows both the 1st and 2nd accused persons in their capacities at Gam Petroleum.

His testimony bordered on what he knew about the operations of Gam Petroleum, its local and International partners; and about the shortage of stock which led to the alleged missing of US $20 million at the depot.

When asked whether he knows anything about the International Traders working with Gam Petroleum, PW1 said despite working at the depot for four and half years, he only came to know about the International traders when he was appointed as the Acting General Manager of Gam Petroleum.

He said that his lack of knowledge about the International Traders during four and half years as senior Finance Manager was because the 1st and 2nd accused persons never informed him about the International traders.

“The day I was appointed as the Acting General Manager, I received an email from one Abdou Rahman Barrow, when I opened the email; I found attachments which include storage agreement with various amendments. There was also a protest letter from TRAFIGURA and a claim letter with invoices from TRAFIGURA. I printed them out and I got them signed,” Mr. Keita said.

Mr. Keita said he downloaded all the files in his computer and sent them for printing using the office printer, and then got them all stamped, page-by-page.

The witness added that he also received an agreement between Gam Petroleum and PSTV ENERGY by email, but for ADDAX ENERGY, he made a search in the office and found copies of the agreement with Gam Petroleum with amendments.

The lawyer for the State M.D. Mballow then submitted the copies of the agreement documents to the court and the court then admitted them as the evidence brought by the state.

The PW1 continued that towards week 1 or 2 of October 2021, he received a call from the 1st accused (Saihou Drammeh) at around 10pm and he (PW1) asked him what was going on because it was unusual for the 1st accused to call him at that time.

He said then Drammeh infomed him that he is from a board meeting and that there was a stock shortage at the depot.

“He mentioned Abdou Rahman Barrow; he told me that Mr. Barrow and others are trying to find me. A day or so after, I saw a group of people come to the office, they went to the office of the 1st accused. After a few minutes, I saw them going round the depot. I observed that Malian trucks were parked towards the depot, and they have been there for two to three months. I also observed that two or three trucks were loaded a day and they used to load twelve to thirteen trucks a day. But this time around, they loaded two or three Malian trucks a day,” he told the Court.

Further asked whether there is a direct relationship between Gam Petroleum and Mali; witness. Keita responded in the negative, and said Mali comes through MADICON TRADING.

Mr. Keita, informed the Court that because of the slow pace of loading their trucks, one person from Mali sent their staff to come and make follow up so that their trucks can be loaded as soon as possible. 

He said then Malian decided to approach him in his office in order to help them load their trucks because they have been here for far too long.

“I decided to call the 2nd accused person (Lamin Gassama) and I relayed the Malians message to him and I asked him why the Malians trucks were not being loaded. But the 2nd accused (Lamin Gassama) did not like it and he wanted me to focus on my finance department, not operations. We had a bitter argument on the call because even though I am not at the operations office, I am an employee of the company. When there are issues I should have a voice on it, he (Lamin Gassama) told me that if the staff from the Malian company comes to me he would bar him from entering the depot. When the call ended, I advised the Malian staff to speak to his company.

“I decided to send a WhatsApp message to the 1st accused (Saihou Drammeh to) ask him what’s happening to the Malians. I explained to him that they are complaining bitterly. His response was that they don’t have release form from TRAFIGURA; therefore they cannot do it,” Mr. Keita told the court.

Mr. Keita Would continue his testimony at midday today following the adjournment of the hearing by Justice Haddy Roche.

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