Sunday, June 23, 2024

“I can’t recall signing an MOU with MoH.” Board Member’s Testimony Raises Questions About MOU in Health Sector Trial

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By: Alieu Jallow

“I cannot recall sitting in a board meeting to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Health,” stated Ernest Andrew Mendy, a resident of Yundum, Human Resource Manager at the Gambia Revenue Authority, and a board member of the Health Promotion and Development Organization (HePDO).

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Mendy, serving as the prosecution’s second witness in the ongoing trial for economic crimes, corruption, theft, and fraud involving three senior officials—Balla Kandeh, Muhamdou Lamin Jaiteh (PS MOH), and Omar Malleh Ceesay (Executive Director, HePDO)—informed the court on Tuesday that he had no recollection of participating in any board meeting for the purpose of signing an MOU with the Ministry of Health for the implementation of malaria-related activities.

He recounted his familiarity with Mr. Balla Kandeh, the Program Manager of the National Malaria Control, and Omar Malleh Ceesay, the Executive Director of HePDO, from their college days. He highlighted their shared history as co-founders of The Association of Youth at Risk Management (TAYMA) in 1997, an association that later transformed into a non-governmental organization (HePDO), presently led by Omar Malleh Ceesay.

PW 2 clarified that he only remembered signing an MOU with the Global Funds through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as a sub-recipient for specific activities. Any other projects, he emphasized, are bound by the signed MOU. According to Mendy, at HePDO, MOUs are signed by the board, and the implementation of activities is the responsibility of the secretariat, which includes various staff such as budget managers and coordinators.

He further informed the court that HePDO solely accesses funds from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) as part of their signed MOU, serving as a sub-recipient for project activities.

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The case has been adjourned to November 27, 2023, at 2:15 pm for the continuation of testimony and cross-examination by the defense counsel.

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