By Rohey Jadama
Justice Eunice O. Dada of the Banjul High Court yesterday 12 October, 2016 ordered the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute 5 top officials of Agriculture diligently.
The accused persons namely Mr. Fafanding Fatajo, the Project Coordinator of Food and Agriculture, Foday Jadama, Deputy Director of the Soil and Water Management Services under the Ministry of Agriculture Sector Development Project (FASDEP), Mr. Omar Jammeh, the Financial Controller of FASDEP, Kalilou Gaye and Baboucarr Kujabi.
They are being tried on charges of ‘Conspiracy to Commit felony and Negligence of official duties’, to which they all denied.
Lawyer Ade and Mansour Jobe appeared for the state, while Lawyer E. Sanneh announced his representation for the 1st and 5th accused persons, Lawyer Moses Richards appeared for the 2nd accused and Lawyer E.M Sissohor appeared for the 3rd and 4th accused persons.
When the case was called, state counsel Ade informed the court that the matter is slated for hearing. He further said their witness who is a police officer is ill and receiving treatment at the village and could not make it to court. He applied for a short adjournment.
Reacting to the application of the prosecution, lawyer Richard said it’s been 1 year since the commencement of the case and the prosecution has called only two witnesses. He argued that the accused persons even though they are on bail, they are not free and their liberties are at stake.
“All adjournments since the beginning of the trial is at the instance of the prosecution. There is no application before the court for a formal adjournment. We have no choice but to accept the application for an adjournment but the state should be warned to proceed with this case diligently so that the accused person’s right to a speedy trial is ensured”, submitted Lawyer Richard.
Lawyer Sanneh also argued that at the last adjourned date his learned senior submitted that if the case didn’t proceed because of the prosecution, the accused persons should be discharged. He added that he is associating himself with that submission
He continued “There is no sufficient reason as to why the prosecution should be granted an adjournment. They have delayed this case with no cogent reasons. We apply that all the defendants in this case be discharged in the name of fairness”.
In her ruling Justice Dada said from record this case suffered series of setbacks at the instance of the prosecution. She ordered the office of the Director of Public prosecutions(DPP) to proceed with this case diligently and further warned that no further delay in the case will be taken lightly again. She however, over ruled the application for the accused persons to be discharged.
The case is subsequently adjourned till the 9th and 10th November, 2016 at 1-2pm respectively for continuation of hearing.