By Rohey Jadama
Justice O. Otaba of the Special Criminal Division of the Banjul High Court yesterday 31 October, 2016 overruled the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) application to revoke the bail application of Sira Wally Ndow Njai and 8 other officials of Gambia National Petroleum Company(GNPC).
The other accused persons are Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy and Noah Touray.
They are being tried on charges of conspiracy to commit felony, neglect of official duty, disobedience of statutory duty, and destroying evidence. However, they all denied culpability.
When the case was called, DPP Hadi Saleh Barkun and A. Mendy appeared for the state. The defendants were represented by lawyers Antouman A.B. Gaye, Sheriff Marie Tambadou, Lamin S. Camara, Amie N.D. Bensouda, Hawa Sisay-Sabally, Rachel Y. Mendy, Borry S. Touray, B. Conteh, Yassin Senghore, B. Bouye, Patrick Gomez, Mene, S. Sillah, and E.E Chimmeh.
Delivering his ruling on the DPP’s application to revoke the bail of the accused persons, Justice Otaba said when the accused persons pleaded not guilty the DPP asked the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons on the grounds that there is an amended information before the court. He added that Barrister Sisay-Sabally argued that the DPP’s application is not supported by any law but that it was based on his opinion. She said the application is irrelevant.
Justice Otaba said the other lawyers also associate themselves with the submission of counsel Sisay-Sabally. “I have critically examined the bail conditions of the accused persons. It is pertinent to observe that the accused persons have fulfilled the bail conditions and were regular in court,” he said.
He said the accused person’s bail can only be revoked when they jump bail or commit similar offences, among other things. He said DPP asked the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons due to the fact that an amended charge has been filed.
The trial judge held that the amount of Dollars in the previous charge is more than the amount in the amended charge which has been reduced. He said the 3rd accused person, Fafa Sanyang, whose name was not included in the amount on the previous charge, has now been included in amended charge and he therefore review his bail conditions and grants him bail in the sum of $1.3 million with Gambian sureties residing within the jurisdiction of the court with a landed property.
Justice Otaba added that he finds and hold that there are no circumstances that can warrant the court to revoke the bail of the accused persons. The DPP’s application is hereby dismissed. After the ruling DPP told the court that the state is ready to proceed with the hearing of the matter. The trial judge then said there are three other bail applications pending before the court if it can be considered first. Senior Counsel Gaye then told the court that they have just been served with the affidavit in opposition and would like to reply on it. It was granted by the court, but no time was given to them.
Proceeding with hearing of the matter, Bakary Darboe, a Police Chief Inspector attached to the Major Crime unit at the Police Headquarters in Banjul, testified as the first prosecution witness. In his testimony, he said he knows Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Pa Modou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy, and Muntaga Momodou Sallah. He said he obtained Cautionary statements from them in relation to an investigation.
He said on 25th, 26th and 27th day of August 2016, he obtained cautionary statements from the above named accused persons. “I first invited them and introduced myself to them. I informed them that they are here to offer a statement. I read the cautionary wordings to them. They understood very well and signed. After which they opted to write their own statements”, he said.
He said he will identify the statements because it bears his name. The statement was shown to him and he identifies it in court.
DPP then applied to tender it as part of their case. The counsels for the accused persons did not object to the tendering of the statements. It was tendered in court and marked in evidence as exhibits.
The case was subsequently adjourned till 2nd November, 2016 at 4pm to 6pm.