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Buba Baldeh in Babagate Trial

The Independent (Banjul)
NEWS
January 16, 2004
Posted to the web January 16, 2004

By Ejatou Jallow
Banjul

The on-going Babagate trial has gathered pace as Buba Baldeh stood in the
dock earlier this week to reveal that his appointment in the board of the
Youth Development Enterprise was directly made by Honourable Baba Jobe.

According to Mr. Baldeh the beleaguered politician's influence was the
deciding factor in his appointment at the YDE.

Mr. Baldeh a former minister in the deposed Jawara regime was testifying as
a prosecution witness in the trial at the High Court in Banjul, which had
attracted a huge crowd. According to Baldeh his appointment at YDE was made
on August 14 2003, during a meeting attended by members of the board of
directors.

Led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Chief Akomaye
Agim, Baldeh confessed that the job of secretary to YDE board of directors
was at the insistence of its chairman Baba Jobe. He was quick to add that
this was never confirmed in any resolution of the board.

Giving a further insight into the activities of the board in 2003, Baldeh
told the trial judge, MA Paul that at a meeting held on August 14, it was
resolved that YDE shareholders should be as follows Musa Sala Jobe - (90
percent), Buba Senghore - (5 percent) Hamidou Baldeh - (2.5 percent) Buba
and Lamin Konjira - (2.5 percent).

This resolution was filed with the registrar of companies and the
memorandum and articles of association of YDE, Baldeh disclosed.

He professed ignorance over whether or not YDE has a certificate of
incorporation.

"It may be possible that these documents are in the office but I did not
remember seeing them. I don't know whether the company (YDE) was
incorporated. I didn't know about YDE limited but when I joined the company
in August 2003, it was called YDE Limited".

The board secretary further testified that he become aware about the
company's indebtedness to The Gambian Ports Authority (GPA) when he was
informed by YDE's chief executive Baba Jobe.

"Buba Senghore and myself thereafter visited the offices of the GPA several
times where we held meetings with the managing director as well as the
director of finance. This meetings were aimed at ascertaining how much YDE
was owing the GPA, how we can make a comprehensive settlement of the
arrears" Baldeh told the High Court.

During his marathon testimony Mr. Baldeh recalled that YDE was prepared to
pay a sum of D100, 000 each month to the GPA, a payment arrangement, which
should have been observed by November 2003.

"The GPA director of finance however asked us to put this arrangement into
writing" he claimed.

On the relationship with the Customs and Excise Department, Mr. Baldeh said
he met with its director-general, Momodou Kabbah Tambajang who assigned
Manlafi Sanyang a senior Customs officer to work with him (Baldeh) in order
to reconcile the YDE's debt portfolio.

"At a subsequent meeting with Sanyang he told me that YDE's debt to Customs
Department is about D65 million. Sanyang also informed me that the figure
could still be revised if only YDE can produce invoices connected to the
goods it shipped into the country," Buba Baldeh indicated.

Meanwhile Baba Jobe, whose trial continues, is still detained despite a
demand by his lawyers to have him released.



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