HePDO‘s Financial Manager Testifies in Health Officials’ Economic Crimes, Theft Trial

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Amadou Badjie, an administrator and finance manager at the Health Promotion and Development Organisation (HePDO) on Monday, 13 May testified in the economic crimes and theft case involving three (3) senior health officials.

He gave evidence before Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court. 

The accused persons are Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh – Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Balla Kandeh – Programme Manager of the Malaria Control Programme and Omar Malleh Ceesay – the Executive Director of HePDO.

The witness said he has been the administrator and finance manager for HePDO for 15 years. He testified that they engaged consultants in their activities based on the qualifications in their curriculum vitae, adding that in late 2018, there was a Memorandum of Understanding signed between HePDO and the National Malaria Control Programme. He explained that the MoU was for HePDO to facilitate the payment of consultants for the malaria-related study. He testified that the CVs of the consultants were brought before Omar Malleh Ceesay (the 2nd accused person) for a review by the procurement committee of HePDO. The witness stated that Omar Malleh Ceesay informed them that he got the CVs from the late Lamin Jarjue, the deputy programmes manager at the National Malaria Control Programme.

He confirmed to the court that he had seen the contracts for all four (4) consultants, and were signed by Omar Malleh Ceesay, the executive director of HePDO, and the consultants. The consultants, according to the witness, were Abdou Sallah, Mamud Ceesay, Basirou Phillot (PW5), and Muhammed Sissoko (PW4).

Muhammed Sissoko testified as the fourth prosecution witness. He was listed among the contracted persons. He testified that he had never written or signed any contract documents as claimed by the prosecution, adding that he was engaged in selling motor parts and land. Basirou Phillot, a plumber who was listed as a contractor, testified as the fifth prosecution witness. He also denied signing any contract with HePDO.

Those two (2) prosecution witnesses denied the allegation by the prosecution that they were contracted by HePDO. However, the sixth prosecution witness, Amadou Badjie, mentioned their names as people contracted by HePDO.

The witness explained the bank accounts held by HePDO at various banks in the country and the signatories. The banks, according to the witness, are Eco Bank, Access Bank, and BSIC Bank. The witness said HePDO maintained two accounts with Access Bank with Omar Ceesay (2nd accused), Mr Balla Kandeh (1st accused), Fanta Jatta Sowe, Lamin Manneh, myself (Amadou Badjie) and Fatou Bittaye as signatories. One account is a general account, and the other is a project account where all donations and project funds are deposited.

When asked by Director of Public Prosecution A.M. Yusuf whether the signatories he mentioned earlier were the same people who signed for the project account, the witness answered in the negative saying they were not the same people. He said the signatories for the project account were Mr Omar Ceesay, Balla Kandeh, Lamin Manneh, and Fanta Jatta Sowe.

He testified that Fanta Jatta Sowe and Balla Kandeh were board members and Executive Director Mr. Omar Ceesay chaired the board.

The witness said between 2018 and 2020, there was an inflow of funds from the Project Coordinating Unit (PCU) into the project account of HePDO. The total amount was Eleven Million, Four Hundred and Eighty and Twenty-Three Dalasi Four Bututs (D11,480,023.04).

When asked whether he was familiar with Abou Sallah, Mamudu Ceesay, Muhammed Sissoko, and Bassirou Philott, he responded that he was familiar with some while he only knew their names.

On how he became familiar with Abdou Sillah and Mamud Sissoko, the witness said he remembered paying cheques in their names for HePDO as consultants and each was paid One Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Eight Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-Eight . Fifty-Six Butut (D1,468,178.56).

The case was adjourned till today for continuation.