5 July 2012

Gambia: In Ex-Agric Officials' Trial - Justice Amadi Overrules Defence Objections

Justice Amadi of the Brikama High Court has rejected the objections of the team of defence counsels over the admissibility of certain documents in connection to ex-Agriculture officials' case.

On the last adjournment date, the state intended to tender the final and progressive report of NARI's findings on the Indonesian fertilizer but the team of defence counsels made objections to that effect, saying that the document(s) did not fulfill the conditions as required in the Evidence Act. In his ruling, Justice Amadi said the documents indeed fulfilled all the conditions in the Evidence Act since they were tendered in one bundle. Thus the court ruled that it accepted the documents in court.

After the ruling, the witness, Dr. Baboucarr Ousman Jobe, director general of NARI continued his testimony before the court. He said their findings show that the Indonesian fertilizer was not able to influence the growing of maize. He said the Senegalese fertilizer they used in the experiment was better than the Indonesian fertilizer.

Dr. Jobe also pointed out that the Japanese fertilizer was tested and it was found to be in the same quality with the Senegalese fertilizer. The witness said NPK fertilizer was also tested on groundnut and maize but was found to be better than the Indonesian fertilizer. According to him, urea, a nitrogen containing fertilizer was also tested and it was found to be good. He said all these tests were included in the final report.

Under cross-examination, defence counsel, Sheriff M. Tambedou asked the witness when the Senegalese and the Japanese fertilizers were imported in the country and the witness said he was told that the Japanese fertilizer was obtained from the 2011 stocks. "As for the Senegalese fertilizer, I don't know the date it came to the country, we got it from the market," he added.

The NARI director general said the Ministry of Agriculture provided the Indonesian fertilizer they used in their experiment.He said the first crop cultivated in the country was groundnut, then millet, rice and maize in that order.

Asked why they did not use rice in their experiment, Dr. Jobe said there are factors to be considered in experiment; one, he added, the crop must be responsive to fertilizer, adding that in The Gambia maize is the most responsive crop to fertilizer. The second factor, the witness said was the level of soil use.

The witness was further asked if he or any of his former colleagues (accused persons) at NARI participated in the procurement and importation of fertilizer from Indonesia, he replied in the negative.

The case was adjourned to 11th July 2012 for the other two defence counsels to conduct their cross-examination of the witness.

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