By Binta A Bah
The trial of former Fishries permanent secretary, Dr Bamba Banja started at the Banjul Magistrates Court yesterday with Chief Superintendent of Police Buba Ceesay who led investigations in the case, telling the court that investigation revealed that Dr Banja received money from a Chinese businessman.
Banja is on trial on three charges of economic crimes, official corruption and public officers receiving property to show favour. He is accused of engaging in corrupt practices by receiving money from the proprietors of Golden Lead Company Limited in September 2018 to free their vessel from detention which was engaged in illicit fishing.
Testifying in a crowded courtroom, CSP Ceesay said they received a directive from the Office of the President to investigate the case. He said they invited Dr Banja for questioning and he denied all allegations that he was the author of an audio prompting them to launch an investigation into the matter.
According to Ceesay, the investigators requested for Dr Banja’s phone numbers which were later given to GSM operators to make a printouts of his calls and it was discovered that his number was in contact with a number belonging to a Chinese businessman, a day before and the day of the incident.
Chief Superintendent Ceesay further testified that the call printouts showed that Banja was in close contact and in fact had received money from the Chinese businessman.
Under cross-examination, Ceesay disagreed when Dr Banja’s lawyer Abdoulie Fatty who put it to him that all the decisions taken by a committee to release the vessel followed due process.
When asked if he was aware that the decision reached by the committee to release the vessel, have to be endorsed by the minister before a payment is made, he replied that every decision made was the decision of the committee.
The case continues on 17th November.