Friday, December 8, 2023

State House Protocol Officer Admits Receiving $300 for Diplomatic Passport


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By Yankuba Jallow

State House Protocol Officer Momodou Sowe has admitted before the Banjul High Court that he received 300 dollars from Mansa Sumareh to procure diplomatic passport for one Bakary Suso.

Lawyer Segga Gaye for Mansa Sumareh and Ebrima J. Sanneh began the cross-examination of Sowe on Thursday, 11th February 2021.

Sowe said he was “playing game” trying to teach Mansa Sumareh a lesson, who he accused of asking him repeatedly to procure diplomatic passports. Sowe said he informed Mansa Sumareh his limitations as a protocol officer but Sumareh kept on asking him to procure diplomatic passports for him. Sowe said he drafted a fake letter of approval in attempt to get rid of Mansa Sumareh.

“I did not draft the approval letter. I drafted a fake approval letter,” Sowe said.

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“So you drafted the approval letter and sent it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Lawyer Gaye quizzed.

“This approval he (refering to Lawyer Gaye) is referring to is what I called “a fake approval letter,” Sowe said.

However, he told the court that he did not submit the “fake letter” to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I pretended to Mansa Sumareh that I took it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Sowe said.

“Mr Sowe, that letter was not fake; it was genuine – you typed it and personally dispatched it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Lawyer Gaye said.

The witness said it is Lawyer Gaye’s opinion and he has no answer to the question.

Sowe said he made both cautionary and voluntary statements at the police.

“This is obvious that you were a suspect and were charged accordingly,” Lawyer Gaye asked.

“I wasn’t a suspect and I wasn’t charged,” Sowe answered.

“It is correct that your cautionary and voluntary statements are different from your witness statement,” Gaye said.

“I don’t understand,” Sowe said.

“I am putting it to you that you were a suspect, you were charged and detained at the police headquarters for 2 days,” Lawyer Gaye said.

“It is unfounded,” Sowe retorted.

Sowe said he was driven in a lift to somewhere around Yarambamba by Mansa Sumareh at a place where Bakary Suso was. He admitted that he overheard Sumareh and Suso talking about $500 – adding Sumareh gave him $300. He said it was the first time he saw Suso, adding he never knew him before that day. Sowe denied Lawyer Gaye’s suggestion that he knew Suso and at all material time had direct access to him.

“What is the procedure of issuing an approval letter?” Lawyer Gaye asked.

Sowe testified that there are two ways of procuring diplomatic passport at the Office of the President. He said diplomatic passports could be procured either through a request by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or through instruction by the President himself.

“Sowe, neither of these two procedures applied here (in this case),” Lawyer Gaye said.

“Yes,” Sowe answered.

Sowe said he informed Mr Ebou Sillah, the head of the Protocol Directorate that he was playing games on Mansa Sumareh.

“Ebou Sillah’s testimony did not state anything like you were playing game with Mansa,” Gaye said.

“I don’t have answer to the question,” Sowe said.

The case was adjourned to 22nd February 2021 at 10:30 am for the continuation of the cross-examination.

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