By Mariama Marong
Omar Sarjo, a former Gambian soldier who was dismissed from the Army by the current Government is facing prosecution for obtaining Gambian passport by false declaration.
The accused person is accused of attempting to obtain a Gambian passport by false declaration contrary to section 31 (h) and 32 of the Immigration Act. According to particulars of the offence, Omar Sarjo around 22nd October 2018 at Banjul attempted to obtain a Gambia passport form and also sworn to an affidavit of means to change his date of birth instead of 24/04/1984 to 10/04/1984 thereby committing an offence.
The Inspector General of Police was represented by Sergeant Ousainou Touray of the Gambia Police Force.
Bakary Saidykhan, the third prosecution witness in the case said he works with the Gambia Immigration Department. He testified that one Sergeant Ousainou Touray was the one who examined the application form of the accused person.
Witness Saidykhan testified that the accused person (Omar Sarjo) in his statement stated that he would confess about his true identity; that he doesn’t know anything about his biological parents. The witness said the accused person narrated to him one of his uncles, Yusupha Sanyang was the one who told him about his family. Saidykhan said the accused person said he was taken away from his mother while he was a baby by a group of women called “ kanyile” from a village called “ Kachi” to his uncle’s village called “ Kabakell” in Gambia.
The accused person was enrolled at Kabakell nursery, primary and junior schools but he was unable to attend senior school and the name he used during his school days was Saikou Sanneh.
The prosecution witness said Omar Sarjo told him upon hearing the selection of soldiers, he (Omar Sarjo) borrowed a school document from one person called Omar Sarjo in order to meet the requirements for the selection into the Gambia Armed Forces.
The witness testified that the accused person was asked whether he had any relation with Salif Sarjo, the leader of the rebel movement fighting for the independence of Casamance. The witness told the court that the accused person responded in the negative; that he had no relationship with the leader of the rebel movement – MFDC.
The Immigration officer said the accused person obtained Gambian passport by false declaration because Omar Sarjo was not his real name.
The witness was shown a statement which he identified as Omar Sarjo’s statement, but it was written by him (the witness). Prpsecuting officer Sergeant Ousainou Touray applied to tender the statement, but Defence Counsel Lamin Badjie objected to the application, arguing that the statement was not obtained voluntarily and the signature was not made by the accused person.
Principal Magistrate S.K. Jobarteh rejected the statements as she held that it was inadmissible in court.
On cross-examination by lawyer Lamin Badjie, the witness maintained the accused person was not a Gambian.
The Defence Counsel requested for a copy of the accused person’s national identity card which was already admitted into the court record. Lawyer Badjie further asked the witness why he said the accused person was not a Gambian. In response, the witness said his citizenship is not established and he could have acquired the ID any way or means.
Lawyer Lamin Badjie asked “Is that ID issued by the Gambia Immigration service?”
Bakary Saidykhan answered: “I don’t know.”
Lawyer Lamin Badjie further asked “Is this ID obtained by false…..?”
Bakary Saidykhan replied “I was not there when it was issued.”
Lawyer Lamin Badjie stated “The accused is a Gambian.”
Bakary Saidykhan said “the ID card can be acquired by fraud.”
Lawyer Lamin Badjie asked “Are you saying that the ID was acquired by false….?”
Bakary Saidykhan replied in the positive with use of the word “Yes”.
The case was adjourned to 6th of May, at 11 am for the continuation of the cross examination.