Gambia: Musa Yalle Batchilly's Trial Commences

The case involving Musa Yalle Batchilly, an executive member of Gambia Action Party (GAP), who was charged with obtaining money by false pretence and fraud, commenced on the 27th July, 2020, before Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh-Njie of the Kanifing Magistrates' Court.

Superintendent Manga presented his first prosecution witness, Fatoumata Baye, to testify. She told the court that she lives at Bijilo and she works in a saloon in America. She said she is a Gambian and her mother is a Senegalese.

She stated that she knows the accused and also knows one Modou Mbye who is her brother, and lives at Yarambamba Estate. She testified that she told her brother that she needed a plot of land in The Gambia so that whenever she comes with her children they would have somewhere to stay.

"A friend of my brother who is a friend of the accused introduced me to the accused. The accused said he had a house to sell which he built for his mother, who said she did not want to live in The Gambia and this was why he wanted to sell the house," she told the court.

Mrs. Baye noted that the accused came to her compound at Bijilo, adding that the accused came with his brother and her brother was also with them. She adduced that she went to the site where the house was, noting that she told the accused that she was interested in the house and would tell her husband about it.

She narrated that the accused came to her brother's compound to discuss the price but they did not agree, adding that the accused came the following day and told her that he would reduce the price and told her that she could pay half of the price and the balance would be paid in installments.

"I told the accused that my savings was in Senegal and when we came on holidays I would give him some money. I told the accused to convert half of the price which was equivalent to 11.5M CFA. The whole price when converted was 22M CFA and the agreed price was 23M CFA," she revealed.

She further posited that she gave the accused 6,000,000 CFA and a white car valued at 5.5M CFA, stating that she gave the car to the accused at Yarambamba. She said that this was in the presence of her mother, brother, sister-in-law and the younger brother of the accused. She added that the value of the car was 5.5M CFA almost D500,000.

She noted that she wanted to go to Dakar and told the accused that she had D81,000 at the house, adding that her brother came to her house the following day and she gave him D81,000 which he handed over to the accused. "The accused called me to say that D81,000 was not equivalent to 1,000,000 CFA. We agreed that if I reached Dakar, I would send him 2,000,000 CFA. He then asked me to send him 50,000 CFA to complete the D81,000 to make it 3,000,000 CFA," she said.

She further told the court that the accused asked her to bring the rest of the money the following day, adding that when she went to Dakar, she sent the money through her brother who gave it to the accused.

"The accused called me to say that he had received the money and that he was happy. On a Friday, I went to my brother's house and counted 1,850,000 CFA and gave it to the accused," she testified.

She told the court that the accused then said that he was called and told that he lost a close friend of his dad, further stating that the accused told her that he would go to the funeral and when he came back, he would see his lawyer to do the transfer.

"My brother and I went to the lawyer of the accused for the transfer to be effected. The accused then said that he would pay the capital gain tax and I would pay income tax duty, and this agreement was prepared by the lawyer of the accused, Mr. Ceesay," she told the court.

She then produced the agreement document which she said was given to her by the lawyer of the accused, who told her that on the 6th February the accused would take all the original documents to his office and he would do the transfer.

"The lawyer confirmed to me that the document shows that the house could not be sold to anybody else. He said this to me after he read the document to me. I then took the document home and waited for the transfer. I was given the original copy of the agreement to confirm, which I did," she posited.

At this juncture, Prosecutor Manga applied to tender the said document, and the defence counsel did not object to the tendering of the document which was subsequently admitted by the court.

Further testifying, she adduced that she never received the transfer and that on the whole the accused did not own the compound. She stated that one Salifu Batchilly owned the compound. "When I went back to the USA I was calling to enquire and all the promises of the accused failed, and before I went back to the USA, I called the accused but he did not pick up the phone. His lawyer advised me to take back the vehicle and if the transfer was done, the vehicle would be returned to the accused," she posited.

She further told the court that apart from taking back the car, she did not receive any money from the accused.

The matter was adjourned to the 3rd August, 2020, for cross-examination of the witness by the defence counsel, Mr. Kijera.

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