By Yankuba Jallow
Commissioner Olimatou Jammeh responsible for the Diplomatic Passport Unit at the Gambia Immigration Department on Monday, 26th April testified in the diplomatic passport case involving Mansa Sumareh and Ebrima J. Sanneh.
Mansa was the Chief Driver at the State House while Ebrima J. Sanneh was a former protocol officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two are standing trial on charges of conspiracy and forgery. They are accused of conspiring among themselves to procure Gambian diplomatic passports for Bakary Suso.
Testifying as the fifth prosecution witness, Olimatou Jammeh said she only knows Ebrima J. Sanneh, the second accused person. In narrating the matter, she said on 6th August 2019, her operations commander came to her office with a diplomatic passport that was issued on the very day. She said the operations commander informed her that liaison officer for diplomatic and service passport made an observation that the cover letter for approval from the Office of the President was not bearing the official stamps of the President’s Office and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The resident of Nema-su Layout said the instruction she was given was to withhold the issuance of the passport until the two official stamps were provided. She said she decided to look into the register containing the names of protocol officers that accompanied applicants and found out that Bakary K. Suso was accompanied by Ebrima J. Sanneh, the second accused person.
On that day, she said the 2nd accused person came to collect the diplomatic passport at the delivery point and was referred to her office.
“I now explained to him that due to the lack of the two authentication stamps from these two offices, [Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs], we cannot deliver the passport [to him],” she said.
She said Sanneh requested for the copy of the cover letter to go back to the Office of the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the official stamps for endorsement of the passport. She said she copied the document and gave Ebrima J. Sanneh the other copy to take with him.
On the following day, she said Sanneh brought back the document and this time, it has both official stamps from the two offices.
“When he gave it to me, I was somehow sceptical because I wasn’t convinced about it. I advised him to go back; that I will get back to him,” she said.
“Why were you not convinced?” asked Lawyer Patrick Gomez for the State.
“Because it was not common that both stamps from these two offices were missing in a cover letter,” the witness said.
She explained that she deemed it necessary to consult at least one of the approving officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She said she phoned the Director of Protocols, but couldn’t get the person. However, she said she was able to get Salimatou Touray, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and asked her about the signatures on the cover letter. After sometime, she said PS Touray told her that she does not know the signature of the person on the cover letter.
“Do you [come to] know whose signature was on the cover letter?” Lawyer Gomez asked.
“It was the signature of one Ndey Awa Cham at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the witness said.
The witness said the next day he prepared a report titled “Request for Verification” which was addressed to his command who were supposed to forward it to the Ministry.
The witness said until today, she did not get any official communication from the Ministry regarding the matter.
The case was adjourned to 7th May 2021 for hearing.