Monday, October 2

Police investigator gives evidence in Gam-Petroleum trial

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Police investigator, Superintendent Abdou J. Bah, on Monday appeared before the High Court of The Gambia in Banjul to give testimony in the Gam-Petroleum lawsuit that is proceeding before Justice Haddy C. Roche.

Mr. Bah was one of the investigators when the petroleum shortage crisis hit Gam-Petroleum last year.

The suit entails the trial of the former general manager and former operations manager of Gam-Petroleum, Saikou Drammeh and Lamin Gassama respectively.

Their arraignment follows their arrest, after they had been alleged and linked to the loss of over US$20 million worth of petroleum products at Gam-Petroleum. They are facing three charges of economic crimes and five other charges.

The duo is being represented by defence attorneys Christopher E. Mene, B. S. Conteh, S. Akimbo, Bakurin Pauline, and Sasum Sillah.

Mr. Bah told the court that one evening, he received a call from his commanding officer to report to PURA at Kairaba Avenue.

He adduced that upon arrival at PURA, he was briefed that Gam-petroleum board were interested in a particular person. Thus, he said, he was told they needed assistance of police and that the person being referred to was the 1st accused.

The witness said that he was part of the investigators tasked to conduct a search on the 1st accused, adding they later went to the residence of the1st accused, somewhere around Kairaba Avenue, but they did not find him there.

The witness adduced that some time later, the 1st accused interacted with them briefly.

The police investigator disclosed to the court that they went upstairs of the PURA building at the conference hall with the 1st accused, where they found some people sitting. He further testified that the people at the conference hall were the chairperson of the Gam-Petroleum board of directors, Abdoulie Tambadou and others unknown to him.

The court heard that the board of directors of Gam-Petroleum wanted to converse with the 1st accused and that his superior officer, Lamin Cham, was allowed to witness the conversation, while he was downstairs waiting together with some other police officers.

PW12 told the court that when his superior, Lamin Cham, came down from the conference hall, they were instructed to go with the 1st accused to the Gam-Petroleum storage depot at Mandinary.

The witness adduced they were escorted by some PIU officers in two vehicles to the Gam-Petroleum Mandinary Depot.

The police superintendent said while they were at the depot, the 2nd accused (Lamin Gassama) came there on his own and they spent the whole night there. According to him, the 2nd accused was reconciling petroleum products with the aid of computer because there was fuel shortage and that petroleum products were missing or unaccounted for.

The witness told the court that no information was shared with them, because they (the investigators) were warned to only guard the suspects and not to interfere while they (the suspects) did the reconciliation.

PW12 added that the exercise took the whole night and continued up to around 8 pm the next day.

The court was told that the accused persons could not complete the reconciliation at the time and they were later accompanied to the Petroleum House at ‘Turntable’ (roundabout) in Brusubi to present what they had.

The state witness said they went to the 3rd floor of the Petroleum House, where some members of the Gam Petroleum board of directors were sitting, including the Chairperson Abdoulie Tambadou.

PW12 told the court that he waited in the waiting room while the accused persons were doing the presentation to the Gam Petroleum board of directors. He added that after the conclusion of the meeting that day, they all returned to their respective homes, including the accused persons.

Bah furthered that two or three days later, while at his home, he received a call from his commanding officer, Lamin Cham, who instructed him to go to the police headquarters to make certain entries in the diary.

The witness testified that prior to Cham’s call, he had already received a phone call instructing him to report to the police headquarters.

Officer Bah told the court that on arrival at the police headquarters, he found the accused persons at the Serious Crime Unit together with their attorney, Badou Conteh, the deputy Crime Management Coordinator (CMC), Buba Sarr, ASP Lamin Cham and other officers.

PW12 said on his arrival, there was already an ongoing argument between Badou Conteh and the Deputy CMC as to why the accused persons were dragged from the Gam Petroleum to the police headquarters.

The witness said the argument was the result of the accused persons refusal to continue with the reconciliation they were doing at Gam Petroleum, which their attorney denied.

The police investigator continued that while they were arguing, the Deputy CMC received a call and later called him and other policemen to board a pickup vehicle to the Kairaba Police Station, where the Inspector General of Police (IGP) was waiting for them.

Officer Bah added that upon arrival, they met the Inspector General of Police and one Mr. Abubacar Jawara at the CID office.

The witness said they were told by the IGP that Abubacarr Jawara was there to complain about the issue.

The court heard that after the narration by IGP, they (Mr. Bah and his colleagues) were instructed to arrest a lady named Kaddijatou Kebbeh based on the complaint of Abubacar Jawara.

When they returned from Kaddijatou Kebbeh’s house to the Kairaba Police Station, the witness details, she was confronted with the complaint against her in the presence of IGP, deputy CMC and Abubacar Jawara, which she denied.

Officer Bah related that Abubacarr Jawara alleged that he gave some money to the young lady for the purchase of fuel and that he wanted to know where the money was.