By Fabakary B. Ceesay
The Chief Executive Officer and proprietor of GACH Global Trading Company Mr. Abubakary Jawara on Wednesday 8th June 2022, testifies in an 8 count economic crime charges against Saihou Drammeh the former General Manager of GamPetroleum and Lamin Gassama the former Operations Manager of the said company.
Both Drammeh and Gassama are accused for their alleged involvement in causing monetary losses to the company amounting to millions of dollars causing economic crimes by stealing by clerk or servant and directors and officers of corporation or companies fraudulently appropriating property or keeping fraudulent accounts.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Mr. Jawara testified as the seventh prosecution witness against the two young accused persons before Justice Haddy Roche of the Banjul High Court. His marathon evidence in chief and cross examination took the court four days to hear.
On Wednesday Mr. Jawara told the court that he had a verbal discussion with Saihou Drammeh on the issue of fuel supply and after a week he did not heard from him and tried several times to reach on phone but to no avail. He said he then asks Kambi if he can make arrangement to meet with Saihou together to discuss the issue. He stated that he and Kambi went to meet Saihou at Saihou’s father’s house in Fajara where Saihou instructed Kambi to supply him Jawara with fuel before the arrival of GACH’s consignment. He said the agreement with Saihou never materialised and later he went back to Saihou to inform him that GACH had a solution to supply GNPC with 300 metric tons of fuel.
Jawara told the Court that he received a call from Sadibou Jammeh of GNPC who informed him that before the commencement of the contract GACH should supply GNPC with 300 metric tons of fuel. He said he asked Mr. Jammeh to wait for a while for him to communicate with Saihou Drammeh and the GACH agent. He stated that he informed Saihou of the demands from GNPC and asked him Saihou to assist GACH. He said GNPC told him that the tender he won is a strict one and needed an invoice from GACH and when he contacted Saihou on the matter Saihou assured him that it is possible but that the discount GACH agreed to is too much and needed a minus of 30 percent.
Jawara explained to that he later gave GNPC an invoice of 238, 000 US Dollar for a quantity of 300 metric tons. He said he instructed his agent to send an invoice of the said amount to GNPC which the GNPC said was sent to Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) and that they are now awaiting GPPA for approval. He said he informed Saihou that GNPC had agreed to GACH’s price and asked for the supply to be done. He added that Saihou told him that he know some Senegalese who can do the supply which GACH can use to supply GNPC and refunded them when the GACH supply arrive.
GACH CEO claimed that Saihou Drammeh was the intermediate between GACH and the Senegalese fuel dealer. He said the fuel that Saihou wanted to give to him belongs to Senegalese and that the first 300 metric tons should be paid in cash. He said he asked his agents Kaddijatou Kebbeh to contact Saihou Drammeh for the possible supply from the Senegalese and to supply GNPC with 300 metric tons which was done. He said that time he had no product but instead it was Saihou who assured him of a supply from the Senegalese. He added that Saihou Drammeh told him that the Senegalese had a product stored at Gampetroleum.
At the point State Counsel Momodou S. Mballow produced an invoice which Jawara recognised as the one from GACH dated 30th August 2021 address to GNPC. It was tendered and admitted as an exhibit before the Court. Jawara further stated that his agent Kaddijatou Kebbeh sent an email to Saihou for him to release the supply to GNPC and a letter written by his agent to GNPC. The said letter was tendered as evidence. He said another supply supposed to be done in September and that after the payment is done to him and he will give Saihou Drammeh the money to pay back the Senegalese supplier.
Further testifying, Jawara told the Court GNPC demanded a tender agreement between them and GACH for fuel supply whiles he was away he instructed his financial administrator Adolf Manu to that effect but GNPC insisted that he Jawara himself should be present. He added that he agreed that when back in the Gambia I will sign the agreement and informed Saihou about it. He said he later ordered his agent to supply GNPC amount of 1, 400 metric tons and an extra 400 metric tons of PMS to GNPC.
A letter dated 5th August 2021 was tendered as evidence. Jawara indicated that whiles he was in Senegal he received a call from his agents that GNPC wanted to make a payment of the first 300 metric ton supplied to them by GACH. He said the said amount was deposited at GACH account at Mega Bank. He said the agent contacted him that Saihou demanded that the money meant for the Senegalese supplier be paid in cash which he refused as an international businessman he knows such an amount of money should not be paid in cash.
He stated that the said amount was 221, 000 US dollars which Saihou demanded be paid in cash through delivery by GACH agent Kaddijatou Kebbeh. Jawara said Saihou insisted that the said deal was his first contract and said fuel from the Senegalese was from an offshore where there is no bank account. That the Senegalese wanted a pay in cash and that he Jawara was convinced to do so because he trusted Saihou who was the mediator between him and the Senegalese.
Continuing further, Jawara said he instructed his agent via voice message to give the money to Saihou Drammeh for onward transmission to the Senegalese. He said he instructed his financial admin for Kaddija to sign as the recipient of the money meant for Senegalese via Saihou Drammeh. The said money transaction document signed by Kaddijatou was tendered as evidence. Jawara added that he later confirmed from Saihou that the money was paid to him by Kaddijatou and had already paid the Senegalese supplier.
He said Saihou advice him to speed up with his fuel consignment from overseas so that he could repay back the September supply which was done on credit from Gampetroleum. He said his agreement with GNPC was for him to supply them every 45 days and payment be done within that period of days. Jawara indicated that before the arrival of his consignment Saihou said GACH must pay back the September debt But Jawara said at that his consignment is yet to arrive. He said Saihou agree to supply him again via the Senegalese and that anytime the Senegalese demanded their money GACH can pay it.
Abubakary Jawara said when he was about to make payment Saihou Drammeh asked him to hold on to the money until the supplier demanded his money. He added that after two days his agents Kaddijatou Kebbeh told him that Saihou said the Senegalese needs their money which was contrary to what Saihou previously told him. He said his agent told him Saihou say the money should be paid to Kambi who also said the money was his. H said he call Saihou demanding to know who owns the money because Kambi was also claiming the same money from him. He said he told saihou GACH will pay the money to whoever Saihou instructed to them. Jawara indicated that Saihou told him that the money doesn’t belong to Kambi but the Senegalese and should be paid to them.
Going further, CEO Jawara said he informed Saihou that payment will be done to the Senegalese via bank transfer and he agrees to that effect. Jawara indicated that he then went to the bank with his agent to do the transaction but later his agents told him that Saihou said the money should be paid in cash. Jawara claimed that he refuse to do because such amount of money D58, 000, 000 cannot be paid in cash. Jawara asserted that his agent Kaddijatou Kebbeh also insisted that Saihou said the supplier wanted the money paid in cash. He said he communicated with Saihou and Saihou insisted that when the agreement was made with the Senegalese there was no signed agreement and that now that payment time is due GACH is bringing arguments. He added that Saihou demanded that GACH pay all his money and he will cancel all business transactions with them.
Jawara posited that later his agent Kaddijatou came with a Bank manager with an account number of which the D58, 000, 000 should be deposited in. He added that it was after when the money transferred into the said account provided by Kadddijatou and the bank manager he realised that account belong to a company call “Koringo”. He said the bank issue him a bank transfer statement. Jawara said when he enquires from Kaddija as to who owns this Koringo Company she said she doesn’t know. Jawara indicated that after the payment he went to meet Saihou at his office and shown him the payment statement and he voiced his dismay as to the way Saihou responded that after the payment he Saihou will terminate all fuel transactions with GACH. He asserted that Saihou assured him that it was the Senegalese that threaten to terminate any deal with him but that he will look for another supplier.
The said bank statement payment to Koringo amounting to D58, 000, 000 was tendered in Court as exhibit. He added that whiles he was on the process of facilitating the arrival of his fuel supply; Saihou connected him to a Senegalese call Pape that if the GACH fuel is yet to arrive Pape can help him to get a supply which can be paid when his consignment arrived.
Further testifying CEO of GACH said by end of October 2021, fuel scarcity hit the country and there was wide spread rumours in town and on social media that GACH took all the fuel and sold it to the Malians. He said he was so worried and called Saihou to clear the air about the fuel shortage but Saihou assured him not to worry and to keep calm as the situation will be under control. He said he told Saihou that because he is new in the fuel business and that there are people out there who are fighting he Saihou because of his connections with GACH. He said he asked Saihou as to the people who are fighting him and Saihou told him then Finance Minister Mamburay Njie, Muhammeh Jah (Jah oil), Edrisa Mass Jobe, Sheikh Omar Gagigo and Seedy Keita.
Jawara voiced out his dilemma as to one Sulayman Ben Suwareh who wrote a tarnishing image of him and his company on social media and he informed Saihou about it that media is saying GACH stole all the fuel in the Gambia. Later, he said he heard that state Intelligent Services (SIS) went to Gampetroleum depot in Mandinary to investigate about the fuel shortage. He added that Saihou told him hypocrites like Seedy keita and Edrissa Mass Jobe are the one that took the Police to Gampetroleum for Saihou to lose his job. Jawara said he protested to Saihou then why GACH is been painted with a bad name and scandalise all over social media when GACH was only involved in fuel deal for only three months. He said the amount of castigation he and his company received from the media was too much to bear when he had paid his first deal and only one payment was pending with GNPC.
Mr. Jawara said he then decided to call the Director General of SIS Ousman Sowe to complain to him but Sowe instead told him that what GACH did was not good and that SIS officers had find out from the fuel depot that GACH and others had taken fuel from there and did not pay back. He said he assured DG Sowe that was not true. He added that he call Saihou and complain that SIS DG is accusing him of the fuel thief but Saihou told him SIS was given misinformation.
Jawara narrated that Permanent Secretary (PS) Lamin Camara at the Ministry of energy call him and put the call on loud speaker informed him that a committee was form to look into the fuel saga at GP depot because GACH company was involved and that PS Camara wanted to confirmed from him how much fuel did GACH took the depot. He said he told PS Camara that his company only took 1,400 metric tons in September and 400 metric tons. He said he then called Saihou Drammeh to find out from him about the money GACH pay and Saihou promise to come to his home which he never did.
Further narrating his evidence, Mr. Abubakary Jawara said one day he met with Saihou at Banjul and Saihou told him that the said money was with GACH agent kaddijatou Kebbeh and that the money never reached him. He alleged that Saihou told him that the money was with Kaddijatou who suppose to send it to the supplier. Jawara said he demanded from Saihou why he never informed GACH that the money never reached him Saihou but instead is with the GACH agent. He said Saihou assured him that he Saihou had already ordered a fuel consignment that will soon arrive to replace the one taken from GP depot. He stated that Saihou advice him not to inform his agent Kaddijatou about the new development and that he Saihou will do all means to solve the problem. Jawara said the product never arrived and anytime he confronted Saihou about it Saihou will assure him of the arrival.
The CEO of GACH, Jawara narrated that one day Saihou call and informed him that a ship has arrived and they are offloading the GACH shares but later he Jawara heard that the fuel ship has already offloaded and left. He said he call Saihou who told him that the said price was higher than the ones he was expecting but that he Saihou will negotiate another cheaper one. “I asked him to pay back my money because I cannot wait for another shipment but he ask me to be patience”, Jawara said.
Mr. Abubakary Jawara said he later decided to find out who was the owner of Koringo company of which he pay the D58, 000, 000 to and was shocked to find that the company is Gambia owned by Muhammed Jagana. He stated that he call Jagana who told him he was at the time in Senegal and he GACH ask Jagana if he is aware of the money deposited into his account. He said Jagana told him that he is aware and it was kaddijatou Kebbeh that gave him the instructions about the payment. Jawara said he told Jagana that Kaddija said she did not know Koringo and that she only communicates with them on a private number aand not in person.
Jawarara explained that Jagana told him the money deposited into his company account was supposed to be changed into Euros and Dollars. Jawara said he told Jagana that the money was meant to pay for the fuel deal he had with a Sendegalese company and demanded the whereabouts of the money. He said Jagana told him that he had withdrawn the money and change it into Dollars and Euros and then gave it back to Kaddijatou. He added that he then called Saihou and informed him about what Jagana said but Saihou was bitter with him as to why GACH is trying to trace the money when he Saihou already received it. He said Saihou asked him to wait till at night he will come to Jawara’s house to discuss the matter. He added at around 01:00am Saihou came to his home with one Hagi Baniko Sissoho and bitterly complain that Jawara has been talking to lots of people about the money. He said Saihou complain that Minister Musa Drammeh told him Saihou everything about what happen.
At this point hearing was adjourned to Thursday 9 June. See next publication for continuation of his testimony and cross examination by defence lawyer Badou Conteh.