Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why the case against Sheikh Tejan Sosseh should be thrown out of court

Sheikh Tejan Sosseh
Fraud Squad Officer, Essa Sowe, a functional illiterate like the rest of Yaya Jammeh's Police prosecution team, was cross examined in the case involving the former West African Agricultural Productivity Project (WAAPP) Coordinator and the outcome was so painful to watch that the entire case, as we have argued, should be thrown out of court.

This fraud of a fraud squad officer under cross examination claimed to have read all of the relevant documents that were unearth during their investigations in a case that first came to court in July of 2013.

Mr. Sosseh was being tried not for the WAAPP which he last managed but for the Gambia Emergency Agriculture Production Project (GEAPP) financed by a European Development Fund (EDF) Grant fund that was administered by the World Bank on behalf of the EDF.

We have characterized this case, as some many others before it in this Jammeh regime, as a farce and thus a travesty of justice.  We have even gone to the extent of questioning whether the World Bank was not complicit if it remained silent and not inject itself into the case, particularly as it regards its rules and procedures governing procurement, implementation and project completion.

Whether the EU and/or the World Bank volunteered information in favor of Sheikh Tejan Sosseh, the defence team, at least asked the pertinent questions regarding the case by going straight to the core.  For each project financed by a traditional donor there is always the main document, called Appraisal Report which sets out all the components, cost of each component, implementation schedule that is connected to a procurement schedule and related costs for each component.

If there is a construction component, it will be in all of these reports showing the name of the contractor(s), construction designs and the supervising engineer that must sign off on each and every step of the construction, certifying that it is up to standard.  If not, the contractor must correct all faults if it is within the guarantee period of the construction.  At the end of a project there is a Project Completion Report jointly completed by the donor and recipient.

During cross examination, the Fraud Squad Officer, Essa Sowe, said he's read all documents but when asked about the documents explaining the project, he said he's never seen or heard about the implementation report.  He also said he never saw or heard about the Project Completion Report which has been signed off on by the World Bank indicating that the project has been satisfactorily implemented.

Essa Sowe also said during cross examination that he did not know that the project he was investigation was completed, closed by the World Bank and the project manager, Mr. Sosseh, had since moved to Coordinate another project (WAAPP) within the Agriculture Ministry.

It turned out that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture did write to the World Bank to utilize the balance of funds amounting to € 5.3 million in some unspecified goods an services which was refused for unknown reason.  Mr. Fraud Squad Officer was not aware of this basic fact either after investigating the case since July 2013.

Despite a Project Completion Report signed off unto by both the World Bank and the government of The Gambia, the prosecution, is insisting that the GEAPP was not completed satisfactorily.  The legal implication of such a moronic defense only brings into question the status of official documents of this nature that legally bind the international donor community to recipient countries like the Gambia