By Yankuba Jallow
Four names have been struck from the list of 30 civil servants on trial bringing the number on trial to 26 at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The trial Magistrates Kebba Baldeh and Sallah ruled that names of 2nd, 3rd, 29th and 30th defendants in the ongoing trial be struck out whilst the remaining 26 accused persons continue on trial.
When the case was called counsel O.M.M. Njie appeared for the 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants, Counsel E. Sanneh announced his appearance for the 1st, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 27th and 30th accused persons and counsel Y. Senghor appeared for the 25th accused person whilst Inspector S. Sanyang and B.F.M Jaiteh appeared for the Inspector General Of Police. The 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 12th, 16th, 23rd, 29th and 30th accused persons were absent.
The accused persons are namely; Abdoulie Jallow, Aussainatou Jobarteh, Abdoulie Jallow, Dr. Cherno Omar Barry, Abdoulie K.M Jallow, Lamin Sanneh, Tijan Jeng, Jerreh Sanyang, Malang Jammeh, Momodou Lamin Jammeh, Lamin Sisey, Masaikou .M. Marong, John Belford, Yaya Drammeh, Ebrima Sanneh, Sambou Nget, Kebba Faal, Nfamara Dampha, Lamin Mai Touray, Lamin Juwara, Saikou Sidibeh, Siaka Saidyleigh, Momdou C. Joof, Alieu Jammeh, Abdoulie M. Cham, Morro Krubally, Kantong Jallow, Buba Sanyang and Kebba .S. Touray.
They are all charged with two counts namely neglect of official duty contrary to section 113 of the Criminal Code and abuse of office contrary to section 90 of the Criminal Code.
“We are applying for an amendment of charges to strike out or remove the names of the 29th and the 30th accused persons as well as the 2nd and 3rd accused persons too,” submitted the prosecuting counsel. He further submitted that 29th and 30th accused persons have never attended any court proceedings and for the case to proceed it is deem necessary to expunge the names from the charge sheet. He added that the other accused persons present can take their plea and further backed his submission with section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code (C.P.C).
Counsel Sanneh objected to the application and told the court that section 169 of the C.P.C cannot be a ground for the prosecuting counsel to rely upon. He added that for the charges to be amended, the state needs to withdraw the trial of the 2nd, 3rd, 29th and 30th accused persons. He said before the state should apply for the amendment they should have relied on section 68 of the C.P.C. He further argued that section 169 of the C.P.C is not a ground for application to be made but amendments. If the prosecuting counsels do that, then the 26 accused persons can take their plea, he said.
The trial magistrate ruled that their names are struck out and the application will not cause any injustice to the accused persons. Thus the names of the accused persons were struck out.
Inspector Sanyang told the court that the 10th accused person is at mile two because he did not fulfill the bail conditions and promised the court that he will be present on the next hearing date. He reminded the court during the last adjourned date that the prosecutor on that day Inspector A. Badjie that the 12th accused person has been absent in the previous sittings and he ordered for his arrest or the sureties to appear on the next adjourned date and revoke his bail. “The 16th accused person Ebrima Sanneh has not attended court in the two previous court sittings and today too he is absent”, submitted Inspector Sanyang. He applied for the court to issue a bench warrant for him to be arrested if he is seen in the jurisdiction of the country so that he can be brought to court for hearings. “This is the first time for the 23rd accused person to be absent and we cannot leave the court at ransom”, submitted the prosecution. He also applied for the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
Counsel Sanneh objected to his statement that the 23rd accused person should be arrested with a bench warrant. He said the 23rd accused person was out of the country for studies in Asia when the amended charges were filed. “He received a government scholarship to study abroad and he was not in the jurisdiction when the charge sheet was issued. He instructed me on the 18th of October 2016 to act on his behalf”, submitted the counsel.
Counsel Sanneh reminded the court that the amended charges were filed on the 30th August 2016 and since then the prosecution has given excuses upon excuses about the matter and always apply for adjournments. “To issue a bench warrant to arrest those who are not present reverses the principles of equity” argued Counsel Sanneh. He urged the court not to issue a bench warrant until the reasons of their absences are known. He said “lack of defendant’s presence has not inclined this proceeding today”.
The trial Magistrates ruled that the prosecution’s application for a bench warrant for the 23rd defendant is declined and went on to issue a bench warrant for the 12th and 16th accused persons. The case was adjourned till the 21st November 2016 at 2pm for hearing.