Gambians Sheikh Dawda York, Ebrima Kebbeh, Demba Sowe, Kemo Fatty and Guineans Alpha Kante and Oumie Saffiatou Diallo are on trial on three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, obtaining money by false pretence and cheating.
They are accused of conspiring among themselves to deceive Mr Muhammed Tunkara, a Gambian based in the UK and his partner by collecting US$160,000 equivalent to D6,320,000 on the pretext that they were going to sell 50 kilos of gold valued at US$1.5 million to them.
The marabout and his co-accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Testifying in a packed courtroom, the first prosecution witness, Muhammed Tunkara, said the second accused (DawdaYork) gave him a juju to wear for protection from ‘bad people’ while in the UK.
“He (Dawda York) said to me over the phone that he had seen bad people coming after me… He even sent me some juju to tie. And since then, everything was different. I sent him money whenever he demanded and did anything he asked me to do,” he said.
According to Mr Tunkara, he met Dawada York in Sierra Leone when he wanted to buy some diamonds. He said Dawda introduced him to Buba Camara, who claimed to have 50 kilos of gold. “When I told Dawda York that I was coming over to The Gambia to verify the gold, he told me not to meet Buba Camara or anyone without him,” he said
Three days after Tunkara’s arrival in The Gambia from the UK, he said, Dawda went to his house and asked how much he was ready to offer for the gold. “He said I should not let the opportunity die away because it was real gold… Dawda and I went together to the house of Ebrima Ebrima (the fourth accused) because I told him that before I would do any negotiation, I have to see the gold and verify it. [When we went there] all the accused persons were present except Ebrima Kebbeh. When I lifted the bag [containing the purported gold] it looked like there was nothing in it.”
He told the court he was later told by the accused persons that they owed Oumie (the first accused) US$7,000 for the transportation of the gold from Guinea to The Gambia.
At this point, Moses Richards, one of the lawyers for the defendants, asked the magistrate for an adjournment of the hearing as he was billed to attend to another matter. The trial will resume Thursday.
By Binta Bah & Lamin Njie]]>