Ex- SG Sabally Denies Delaying VP’s Flight for 45 Minutes


By Rohey Jadama The erstwhile Minister for presidential Affairs and  Secretary GeneralModou Sabally SG and head of civil service Mr. Momodou Sabally while responding to questions during cross-examination from the Director of PublicProsecutions (DPP)  Hadi Saleh Bakum denied delaying the Vice president’s flight for 45 minutes. Sabally is standing trial before Justice Emmanuel Amadi of the Banjul High Court. The accused was represented by Antouman Gaye, whilst the DPP appeared for the state. “It is evident that after delaying the plane for about 45 minutes you did not specifically apologise to the VP for the delay you had cause?” said the DPP. “I did not delay the flight for 45 minutes and I did apologise to the VP for arriving later than her,” responded Sabally. “Did you mention that in your statement at the NIA/the Police that you specifically apologise to the VP?”, enquired  the DPP. “I’m not sure if I mention that explicitly since it is not in the charge sheet,”the witness answered. “From the beginning of your trip to South  Africa to the end shows that you had no respect for the VP or her office?”, said the DPP. Objection my lord this question is irrelevant to the charges regarding abuse of office and causing delay of the departure of the flight and that none of the 10 witnesses that testified before the court mentioned this, so where is it coming from? argued defence counsel Gaye. He continued: “This question has neither probating nor evidential value.  It is calculated to create the impression that the accused  is a disrespectful and disobedient public servant particularly to the VP and I refer the court to section 3 of the Evidence Act to disallow this question”, submitted Barrister Gaye. The presiding judge in his ruling disallowed the question adding that the said question will add salt to injury and that this is a matter for address. “Do you believe that Mariama Sillah’s project was laudable?” asked the DPP. Antouman Gaye the counsel for Mr. Sabally objected to this question arguing that the court is concerned with facts not speculations and that the witness is not an expert to know that the project is laudable. This prompted the DPP to withdraw his question. “Why did you not allow Ms. Sillah to follow it up with Social Security and Housing Finance Cooperation (SSHFC) without your intervention?” asked the DPP “I did allow her to follow it up with SSHFC by limiting myself to introducing her to Mr. Graham Managing Director, SSHFC”, said Sabally. “How many times did you communicate with the SSHFC on this issue?” “Twice by phone, the first one I called Mr. Graham and the second one Mr. Cham the Director of finance  called me to inform me about the process they were going through and also  to inform me that they had decided to cut the budget presented by Mariama Sillah for the project,” responded Sabally. “And on that you gave your input?”, asked  the DPP. “I did not give input, I rather advised them that there was no need to contact me on this matter, that they should act as they deemed fit”, responded the former SG. Mr. Sabally while still responding to questions told the court that he was nominated by the president to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. He added that the state as usual paid for his expenses. He further told the court that the delegation was headed by the Vice President. He said President Zuma’s inauguration was the main item amongst the other assignments he was instructed to attend in South Africa. “The other items were only known to you?” ask the chief prosecutor. “No the other item was known to me and the honorary consul Mr. Seddy Lette and I did also inform the Vice President’s team that I had other assignments without giving them the details “, answered Mr. Sabally. “Why would you not confide on the head of the delegation?”, ask the DPP. ”If I have instructions from the president I do not disclose it to anyone unless when I have specific instructions to do so”, responded the erstwhile former presidential Affairs minister. “Musa Sinyan was here to testify as a witness why did you not put it to him that you told him about your other commitments?” Defence Counsel Gaye objected to this question arguing that the accused  has a lawyer and if the prosecution feels that the question should have been asked  that is a matter for address. However, the objection was overruled. In answering the said question Sabally said “As I said earlier my understanding of my role in this trial is to stand in the dock and be quiet and observe knowing very well that my lawyer will take care of my business.” DPP asked, “When you were not allowed into the inauguration you walked away and did not patiently wait for the VP to come out?” Before Sabally could answer his lawyer raised an objection arguing that his client is charged with delaying the flight of the VP and failure to attend the inauguration and not that he walked away. Replying to the objection, the DPP refers the court to section 6 of the Evidence Act. The said objection was overruled by the court and the witness was ordered to answer. “That’s not so we stayed there and I did not walk away”, said Sabally. “Did you stay until the VP came out”? asked the DPP. “No I stayed until I was convinced that they will not allow me in, in spite of my efforts and I then proceeded with the other assignments I was given by the president to be carried out during the trip”, said the former SG. “After that you did not communicate to the VP until you saw her at the plane?” ask the chief prosecutor. Mr. Sabally responded in the positive. At this juncture a document was shown to Mr. Sabally by the prosecution and the accused confirmed that he was the author of the said document. The prosecution applied to tender the said document as an exhibit. However, the defence counsel objected to it arguing that was the first time he was seeing the said document and that he is also objecting to the admissibility of the document. “My lord the document is irrelevant to the charges before the court and that this document came into existence after the case was filed in the court. “This document has no nexus and it has more prejudicial than probating and evidential  value and when that happens it has to be rejected. I have not been served with any notice that they intend to tender it and they did not comply with the criminal procedure code (CPC)”, argued Barrister Gaye. Counsel Gaye added that the law on evidence discourages trial by ambush and that they are not to be taken by surprise. He finally urged the court to reject the said document and mark it as such. Responding to the objection of the defence counsel, the DPP said the submission of the defence has no place in the CPC or the Evidence Act. He said the defence is speculative and has not supported his arguments with any provision of the law. He urged the court to overrule the objection. At this juncture the case was adjourned till Thursday 9 July for ruling on the admissibility of the document and continuation of cross-examination.]]>