By Mamadou Dem
Principal Magistrate Lamin Mbaye of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Wednesday, 13 August, threatened to discharge and acquit Mambanyick Njie, former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, following an application from the defence demanding his acquittal on a single count charge of “Giving False Information” based on the none appearance of the prosecution in court to cross- examine the accused.
Delivering the ruling, the trial magistrate noted that he had listened very carefully to the application made by senior counsel Antouman Gaye representing the accused, adding that the case has suffered several adjournments and that the accused has the right to fair and speedy trial.
“I agree with counsel that this matter has suffered several delays at the instance of the prosecution. The last time this matter was mentioned the prosecutor applied that it be adjourned as he was on that particular day handed the file and was not familiar with the facts. He asked for adjournment and it was granted to today. Yet the said prosecutor is not present in court and he did not communicate to the court any reason for his absence,” said the presiding magistrate.
Magistrate Mbaye further stated that secondly, the accused person has a right to fair and speedy trial without unnecessary delays by either side. :But because trial has taken so long without any end in sight, I tend to agree with counsel that further adjourning this matter will cause more injustice to the accused person,” he said.
The trial magistrate ruled “Even though I am very tempted to agree with counsel in accordance with Section 166 of the C.P.C, I will exercise caution and give the prosecution one more chance to proceed with this matter on the next adjournment date.”
“If the prosecution is not before the court on the next adjournment date to proceed with the matter, I will do only one thing which is to discharge the accused and dismiss this suit accordingly,” he warned.
Prior to delivering the ruling by the Magistrate, senior counsel Gaye submitted that the accused ended his defence-in-chief and awaits cross-examination from the prosecution.
“May I apply under Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure Code and having regard to the evidence lead, the accused be acquitted and discharged,” submitted counsel, adding that the prosecution has not advanced the reason for their absence.
“I do not think the prosecution is interested in pursuing this matter any further,” said counsel, adding that this is not the first time the prosecuting officer is not present in court for one reason or the other.
“We can’t have this charge hanging over the accused ……..,” said Counsel Gaye.
At this juncture, the case was adjourned to Wednesday, 20th August, 2014 for cross examination by the prosecution.
Readers could recall that the prosecution alleged that the aforesaid person on or about the 1st day of March 2012, in the City of Banjul, Republic of The Gambia, whilst as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, petitioned the Office of the President to wit: that the Ex. GFA (Gambia Football Association) Executive were engaged in financial malpractices and never gave a through account of the impress given to them for international marches and therefore sought approval to dissolve the said GFA Executive an information he knew to be false or does not believe to be true and thereby committed an offence. He pleaded not guilty as charged.