By Rohey Jadama
Prosecutor Olimatou Danso has yesterday 13 March, 2016 intimated to the Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara that the case file of the erstwhile Director of NIA Mr. Yankuba Badjie and eight others is not yet before the Attorney General Chambers.
The other accused persons are Louis Gomez, former Deputy Director, Saikou Omar Jeng, former director of Operations, Haruna Susso, Yusupha Jammeh, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe, Baboucarr Sallah, and Lamin Lang Sanyang.
They are standing trial on two counts of conspiracy to commit felony and murder.
State counsel Danso said they have written to the police regarding the case file but they are yet to reply to them. She applied for a short adjournment to enable her get the case file.
When the case was called State Counsel Olimatou Danso and Bafou Jeng appeared for the state while Lawyers C.E Mene and B. Bouye announced their representation for Mr. Badjie, Lawyers E. Chime and Patrick Gomez for Mr. Gomez. Lawyer Achigbue appeared for the 6th accused. The 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th accused are yet to secure the services of a lawyer.
At this juncture Justice Sillah said the case is a murder case and as such those without lawyers should get lawyers or the state provides one for them. She enquired from Yusupha Jammeh, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe, Baboucarr Sallah and Sheikh Omar Jeng whether they want to get their own lawyers or whether they want the state to provide a lawyer for them. All of them said they want the state to provide a lawyer for them except Mr. Jeng who responded to the court that he will get his own Lawyer.
Replying to the application of prosecutor Danso, defence counsel Mene opposed the application arguing that the state was given one week to put their house in order. He further argued that as there is no proper case before the court because the proper necessary information is not before the court.
“My lady if the police cannot forward the case file to Attorney General’s Chambers one month after the arrest of the accused persons, the question is why are they arraigning them. Arraigning them means you should be ready for prosecution. In this new Gambia it is important for us to adopt investigation before arrest,” submitted defence counsel Mene.
He added that it is his submission that the combined effect of arrest was not driven by conclusive investigation and arraignment of the accused without a complete case file forwarded to Attorney General Chamber.
Barister Mene finally urged the court to exercise its powers under section 19(5) of the 1997 constitution and that if the court is minded to grant an adjournment let it be on strict terms, adding that the court is not a storage facility.
Lawyer Chime also associated himself with the submission of defence counsel Mene but was quick to add that the accused persons are remanded at mile two and without trial it will tantamount to justice delayed and Justice delayed is justice denied.
“I urge the court to release them until such a time that the prosecution is ready to prosecute”, submitted Lawyer Chime.
Lawyers Achigbue and Dayo also associated themselves with the submission of Lawyer Mene.
Replying to the team of defence Lawyers, prosecutor Danso said the submissions of her seniors are misconceived. She said the case was first called before the court last week and in their submissions they relied on section 19(5) of the constitution which states that the persons should be tried within reasonable time. She urged the court to discontinue their objection and grant the application of the prosecution.
In her ruling the presiding judge said after listening to both the prosecution and the defence counsels, she is minded to grant the application of the prosecution in the interest of justice.
“Justice delayed is justice denied but justice rushed also is justice denied. The state should not relent in filing a proper indictment before the next adjourned date”, ruled justice Sillah.
She also held that the accused persons be remanded in custody. She ordered the state through National Council for Legal Aid to provide lawyers to those that are not represented and further ordered Sheikh Omar Jeng to secure the service of a lawyer before the next adjourned date.
The case was adjourned till Monday 20 March, 2017 at 12: noon.