Bakary Huma, permanent secretary (PS) at the Department of State for Works, Construction and Infrastructure, yesterday, gave his testimony in the ongoing criminal trial of Bai Ousman Secka and Batata Juwara, former permanent secretary and chief of protocol of the Department of State for Foreign Affairs respectively. The two defendants are facing charges of abuse of office and uttering false documents.
In his short but precise testimony before Magistrate Lamin George of the Banjul Magistrates Court, Bakary Huma said he was appointed PS at the Department of State for Works, Construction and Infrastructure in October, 2007, but said he never knew any driver named Ebou Manneh at the said department.
According to Mr Huma, an investigator came to his office to ask about the said Ebou Manneh, as a result of which he summoned the records officer to check through the record files and to see if there was any employee at the department named Ebou Manneh.
“No record in connection to Ebou Manneh was seen. The investigating officer insisted that Ebou Manneh was either an employee of the ministry or a former employee. I then called one of the senior officials of the ministry to my office to [ask if] he knew any driver called Ebou Manneh in the Ministry,” he explained. According to Mr Huma, the senior officer replied that there had at one time been a driver called Ebou Manneh, who was moved from Studio International, a project, to the ministry as a driver,” PS Humma told the court.
He added that all the employees of the ministry have a record file but he has never seen any file pertaining to Ebou Manneh. According to him, the investigating officer at that juncture instructed him to put in writing the fact the he (Bakary Huma) had received the information about Ebou Manneh. Mr Huma added that he complied and signed the document as the author. The said document was tendered and marked as Exhibit F.
Bakary Huma, responding to questions, during his cross-examination, from Hawa Sisay-Sabally - counsel for the first accused person, Bai Ousman Secka - said the Department of State for Works, Construction and Infrastructure is regarded as the contracting authority for national roads.
He further noted that the director of Technical Services is an employee of the said ministry and the SoS is responsible for policy matters whilst the PS is responsible for administrative matters.
Further responding to questions put to him by the defence counsel, Mr Huma explained that the director of Technical Services is an adviser to the PS on technical matters. He added that the issue of acquiring drivers for the Department falls under administrative matters.
Mr Bakary Huma further explained to the court that he received information that Bala Garba Jahumpa had moved with Ebou Manneh to the Department of State for Foreign Affairs but he was quick to say that he did not know who gave orders for the minister to transfer the driver.