By Louise Jobe & Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)
One Amadou Bah, a labourer at the Gambia Ports Authority on Thursday testified in the Banta Keita cocaine trial as to how he was deceived by Sheriff Njie, the second accused person.
Keita is accused of trafficking nearly three tonnes of cocaine from a shipment of industrial salt originating from Ecuador, amounting to over 88 million dollars.
Bah testified before the vacation judge, Justice Zainaba Ngui Mboob at the Bakau High Court on Thursday, 28th December 2022.
The resident of Banjul said he recognized Sheriff Njie who was in the dock, but he stated that he does not know Banta Keita, the first accused person. The seventh prosecution witness (PW7) said Sheriff Njie used to move with his younger brother.
The witness said on the 10th September 2020, Sheriff Njie called him and requested for his national identity card, tax identification number and his picture. Bah said when he asked Sheriff Njie what he was going to do with those documents, Njie informed him that he has a container of sugar and he needed those documents to collect a bill of lading from DHL, he explained.
Bah said after sending the documents to Sheriff Njie he did not hear from him until after he was called by personnel of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency Office at their Bakau Office. Bah testified that during the investigations he was asked about a bank account at Zenith Bank in which his name and details were used in opening the account. He denied ever opening an account at Zenith Bank. He also denied receiving money from Zenith Bank. He said the narcotic officers showed him his documents – ID Card and TIN Number with the claim that they got it from Banta Keita’s account named Banjul Long Circuit Farry.
Bah said he informed the investigators that he did not know anything about the account as he denied submitting or signing the bank accounts. He stressed that signatures on the bank documents was not his, adding he was not informed by Sheriff Njie that he needed the documents to open a bank account.
Another witness who testified was Galass Jobe also a resident of Banjul. He testified that he is a vehicle electrician.
Jobe said sometime in 2020 Sheriff Njie picked his national identity card and his tax identification card. He added that the reason for collecting the documents was, according to Sheriff Njie, for Banta Keita to open a car garage and he (Jobe) will be employed as the electrician.
Like Bah, Jobe said he was arrested by narcotic officers and it was when he came to know that his name and documents were used to register a company and in opening a bank account at Zenith Bank.
Jobe denied any knowledge of the registration of the company and the opening of the bank account. He testified that he did not sign any documents for the registration of the company and the opening of the account.
The case was adjourned to the 4th January 2023 for Jobe to complete his evidence. The court will be holding at the place the suspected drugs are kept. The court will embark on a locust – visit to the Drug Squad Facility housing the alleged cocaine.