Businessman Abubacary Jawara and Former Secretary General Minister for Presidential Affairs Hon. Momodou Sabally.
By Landing Ceesay
Momodou Sabally, Former Secretary General and Presidential Affairs Minister, testifying in the defamation lawsuit filed against him by Abubakary, CEO of GACH Global, told the
court that he speaks for the public interest and not with “malicious.” intent.
Sabally made these remarks during cross-examination by Counsel Ida Drammeh, the lawyer representing the Chief Executive Officer of GACH Global, Abubakary Jawara (plaintiff).
The GACH Global CEO filed a defamation lawsuit against Sabally and is requesting D8 million for damages if the court found Sabally guilty.
The former Secretary-General and Presidential Affairs Minister in his defense told the court that he always speaks for the public good and public interest not malicious intent as put to him by Counsel Drammeh.
“Are you a politically exposed person,?” Counsel Drammeh asked.
“To the effect that I am a politician, yes,” Sabally responded.
“It is correct that you are a politically exposed person even before you join the UDP,” Counsel Drammeh asked and Sabally responded in the affirmative.
Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally whether it is correct that he is not familiar with the National Environmental Agency (NEA) Laws.
Sabally told the Court that he is not familiar with the NEA laws.
“I am not familiar with the NEA Laws. But I am familiar with the intent and purposes of the laws to the effect that I did a module on it during my first year of the undergraduate program. I know these laws are to protect the environment for the public good and the public interest,” Sabally told the court.
“So you know mining is one those things that require Environmental Impact Assessment before a license can be granted,” Counsel Drammeh asked. Sabally responded affirmatively.
“It is correct that Mr. Sabally you did not check whether the Environmental Impact Assessment was done before you make those comments about the plaintiff,” Counsel Drammeh asked.
“Yes, but I don’t have to check that in other to make a fair comment on it,” Sabally responded.
“I am putting it to you that you are reckless and malicious,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“No, I speak for the public interest and the public good not malicious,” Sabally responded.
“You do not have a right based on public interest to say things that are false or wrong,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“Yes, but I did not say anything that was false and wrong,” Sabally responded.
Sabally further confirmed to the court that he is aware of the plaintiff’s (Abubakary Jawara) mining business when he was asked by Counsel Drammeh.
Counsel Drammeh further asked Sabally whether he has seen Abubakary Jawara’s bids for government projects.
Sabally told the court that he has not seen any of Abubakary Jawara’s bids but he heard about it in Newspapers and social media.
“I am putting it to you that you believe and you want people to believe everything on social media,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“Not necessary,” Sabally responded.
Counsel Drammeh: “You also believe anything in the newspapers.”
“Not, necessary, because not everything in the newspaper is true but they can be facts. Some write things about me that are not true,” Sabally responded.
“In your pleadings, you mention Busumbala Constituency and the plaintiff (Abubakary Jawara). It is correct that the plaintiff has nothing to do with Busumbala,” Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally.
“The plaintiff has something to do with Busumbala Constituency,” Sabally responded.
“Busumbala Constituency is not relevant to the case,” Counsel Drammeh asked.
“It is relevant because I sought to contest in the parliamentary election to represent people’s interest. One of the Plaintiff’s factories, the tomato factory is in the Busumbala constituency,” Sabally responded.
Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally whether he knows the number of youths that are employed in the plaintiff’s factory.
In his response, Sabally told the court that he did not know.
Counsel Drammeh again asked Sabally whether he knows the factory’s production statistics.
“As a champion of the youths, it is not in your interest that young people are employed,” Counsel asked.
“Yes, but activities that are detrimental to the environment and the country. Like illegal importation of guns, inflation of drugs in the country, and so on are things I speak against. It is in my interest to address those issues,” Sabally told the court.
On the issue of guns imported into the country by the plaintiff (Abubakary Jawara).
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Sabally told the court that he is not aware of issuing a license to Abubakary Jawara by the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for the importation of guns.
“Are you aware that the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has to inspect the warehouse before the plaintiff takes the guns there?” Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally.
“I am not aware of that,” Sabally responded.
Counsel Drammeh; “Are you aware that the police issued the same license for personal use and importation.” Sabally; “I am not aware of that.”
“I am putting it to you that the plaintiff was given a license to import guns for sale in September 2018,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“I am not aware of that,” Sabally responded.
“Are you aware that the plaintiff’s business was written to by the Office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) informing him that they will inspect his warehouse,” Counsel Drammeh asked.
However, Counsel Drammeh’s question was objected to by Counsel J. Sambou, the lawyer representing Sabally.
Counsel Sambou told the court that counsel Drammeh is asking the witness for documents that are not before the court.
Counsel Drammeh then applied to tender a letter written to the plaintiff by the office of the IGP for inspection.
Counsel Sambou for the defendant objected to the admission of the letter.
Counsel Sambou said the document is a photocopy not original therefore a proper foundation should be laid before it will be admitted into the evidence.
Counsel Sambou said it violates section 98 sub 1 of the Evidence Act which requires that a proper foundation must be laid for secondary evidence before it will be admitted into the evidence.
In her response Counsel Drammeh asked the court to give her time for them to produce the original copy of the letter.
Counsel Sambou again objected to Counsel Drammeh’s request.
Justice Bakre then rejected the admission of the letter into evidence.
Justice Bakre said since it is a photocopy a proper foundation was not laid for it to be admitted into the evidence.
Counsel Drammeh then continued her cross-examination.
“You did not make any attempt to find out whether the office of the IGP wrote to the plaintiff for inspection,” Counsel Drammeh asked.
“I do not have to when there is rampant inflation of drugs, high rate of deportation, and crimes. I do not have to, in other to make a fair comment on the matter based on its seriousness. I also did not check and I do not have to check with the IGP given that these guns are subject to investigation. So I do not have to wait for that before I make a fair comment,” Sabally responded.
“I am putting it to you that you did not check the accuracy of the facts of the stories before you published them,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“Generally yes, I do check the accuracy of whatever I published,” Sabally responded.
“When you said generally, you do not include the National Environmental Agency (NEA) the Inspector General of Police (IGP), and the Office of the President (OP),” Counsel Drammeh asked.
“I do not have to check with them to make fair comments,” Sabally responded.
“You will agree with me that when you make statements it generates responses,” Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally.
“Yes for the common good. An example is the public advertisement of condoms. when I wrote about it, the government brought it down,” Sabally responded.
Counsel Drammeh; “It is correct that you can speak on what you think is common good from your perspective.”
Sabally; “I can do that as well from the perspective of the public.”
“I am putting it to you that your public is only your constituency,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
“No, it includes the whole country in general including cabinet members,” Sabally responded.
Counsel Drammeh told Sabally that Abubakary Jawara lost D8 million as a result of his (Sabally) posts about the plaintiff (Abubakary Jawara).
Sabally denied that his posts about the plaintiff make him lose D8 million.
“I am putting it to you that because of your publication, the plaintiff has to close his factory. Because he could not get vital raw materials from outside,” Counsel Drammeh told Sabally.
Sabally again denied that the plaintiff closed his business because of the posts he made about him.
Sabally told the court that raw material for the production of tomato paste is always available in the country and even from Casamance.
“I am putting it to you that you do not know anything about tomato production,” Counsel Drammeh put it to Sabally.
“I do know something about it. Because industrial theories said you don’t establish a factory in a place where you can’t get raw materials,” Sabally responded.
“You don’t know the name of the tomatoes that are used for the production of tomato paste,” Counsel Drammeh asked Sabally.
“I don’t know their names but I know them and they are juicy enough to be tomato paste because I eat them. I also know they can be used to produce tomato paste. I know a tomato paste factory cannot be established in a place where it cannot have raw materials,” Sabally told the court.
The case has been adjourned to the 15th of March for continuation.