11 July 2018

Gambia: Gamtel Top Brass Cross-Examined By Mobicell Lawyer

Top officials of the National Telecommunication Company (GAMTEL) were yesterday cross-examined by Malick Mba'I, attorney for Mr. Balla Jassey, Mobicell Blue Ocean Wireless and the Multimedia Gateway Incorporation (MGI).

Testifying under cross-examination, the Managing Director of Gamtel, Mr. Sulayman Suso, said he could not remember a local company called MGI.

When asked whether he witnessed any meeting with Balla Jassey at the office of the former president about the management of the Gamtel international gateway, he responded in the negative.

Responding to another question as to whether he attended any meeting with Balla Jassey or any member of MGI Switzerland, he said he knew MGI in 2017. He added that he was not told that Balla Jassey was an agent for MGI Switzerland in The Gambia.

He was asked whether he was told that MGI and Balla Jassey protected their interest in The Gambia, and he replied in the negative. Asked whether he knew any company called MGI in The Gambia, he responded that he knew it through the Commission.

He was asked again whether he had any information about the shares of MGI. He said he did not. It was put to him that he said that Mr. Balla Jassey was very active in representing MGI a lot, but the witness said he never said so; adding that he did not write to anyone indicating that Mr. Jassey was managing the gateway and what he mentioned was MGI Swiss.

It was further put to him that he had not shown any evidence to show that Mr. Jassey, Mobicell and MGI managed the International Gateway. In response, he said he did not say so. Again it was put to him that he had not presented any evidence that MGI, Mr. Jassey, and Mobicell protected MGI Switzerland interest. He responded that he did not say so in any of his testimonies.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda told the commission that she had no questions for the witness.

Next to be cross-examined was one Mr. Lamin Camara, and he testified that Mr. Jassey applied for a Mobile Virtual Network (MVN); adding that he could not remember the exact year but this was around 2013-2014.

According to him, prior to the application, he read a letter and he referred Mr. Jassey to the Ministry of Information Communication and Infrastructure regarding his application; adding that they got assessment of recommendation from PURA.

At this juncture, commission chairman, Sourahata Janneh, told the witness to answer the questions and he could add something if he wished.

Further responding to lawyer Mba'I, he said he could not recall whether there was a letterhead on the said letter, adding that he could not either recall whether Mr. Jassey signed the letter. He disclosed that the application was reviewed by his ministry.

"Was the letter addressed to Mr. Jassey?," quizzed counsel Mba'I. in response, Camara said PURA is the institution that gives approval. He was asked again whether he had presented the said letter to the Commission, and he answered in the negative. He adduced that Mr. Jassey never applied or signed any letter.

It was also put to him that he mentioned in the application that the licence had some implications in the management of the international gateway. The witness said he could not explain, unless he got back to his office.

Mrs. Bensouda said she had no re-examination for the witness.

Mr. Alhagie Abdoulie Kebbeh, a telecom engineer and consultant, was also cross-examined by counsel. Mr. Kebbeh, who served as a taskforce member of Gamtel, said it was his understanding that MGI Switzerland had contract for the management of the International Gateway and they set up a local company in The Gambia.

"Who gave you the information?" asked Mba'i.

He said the information was either from Mr. Balla Jassey or Ilea. When asked whether he had seen incorporation documents of MGI, he said it was given to them. He was again asked whether the MGI is a subsidiary to MGI Switzerland. He answered that he would not know.

On whether there was any member from MGI Swiss that owned shares in MGI Gambia, he responded that he did not know. It was also put to him that he had not shown any evidence to show that MGI Switzerland created MGI in The Gambia. He replied that it was clear that Mr. Jassey was representing MGI Switzerland, and that this information was verbal.

At this juncture, Chairman Janneh advised lawyer Mba'I to put things to the witness but not to tell him that he did not have evidence because he is not a lawyer, and the nature of the evidence may vary.

Still answering, Mr. Kebbeh said they could provide documents before the Commission. On how much was paid for the Unified Communication System Project at the National Assembly, he responded that the sum was $585,808.17 which was equivalent to D28,000,000.

However, it was put to him that it was correct that Gamtel sub-contracted the contract to Mobicell to the tune of $585,808.17, and he said that this was unknown to him and he did not know how much was paid to Mobicell. It was put to him that it was said that Gamtel did not benefit from the contract. He answered in the affirmative.

"Are you in a position to explain whether Gamtel had the capacity to install a unified communication system at the National Assembly?" counsel Mba'I inquired. Mr. Kebbeh said he could not testify to that.

Hearings continue today.

Meanwhile, sources close to the commission disclosed that Mr. Alhagie Mamadi Kurang has been replaced by Ramatoulie Sarr, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice.

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