By Rohey Jadama and Mamadou Dem
The High Court in Banjul Yesterday 20th March, 2017 refused to strike out the nine erstwhile top National Intelligence Officials (NIA) murder and conspiracy case.
The court further refused to grant them bail.
The team of Defence counsels defending Yankuba Badjie, Former Director of National Intelligence Agency and eight others had yesterday urged the High Court presided over by Justice Kumba SIllah-Camara to discharge the accused persons as the investigation is still inconclusive.
When the case was called M.B. Abubacarr, A Adeyemi, Olimatou Danso and Bafou Jeng announced their representation for the state whilst Lawyers C.E Mene and E.E Chime appeared for Mr. Badjie, Lawyers E.E Chime and Patrick Gomez appeared for Mr. Gomez, Lawyer Achigbue for the 4th accused, Lawyer Patrick Gomez for the 6th accused, Lawyer Moses Richard for the 3rd accused and S. Kenedy for the 5th,7th,8th and 9th accused persons respectively
The other eight accused persons are Louis Gomez, former Deputy Director, Saikou Omar Jeng, former director of Operations, Haruna Susso, Yusupha Jammeh, Tamba Masireh, Lamin Darboe and Baboucarr Sallah, all operatives and Lamin Lang Sanyang.
They were charged at the lower court with Conspiracy to commit Felony and Murder.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DDPP) informed the court that they have filed information before the court but he was quick to add that investigation is inconclusive.
At this point Lawyer Mene was asked by the court whether he was served the information filed by the prosecution. He responded that he was not served with anything. This prompted the judge to request a copy from the prosecution.
“We came up with the charge based on what we have. We still need the police because the investigation is inconclusive. There is vital information on pathology and there is no pathology expert so the police need to get the expert outside”, said the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DDPP).
The DDPP Abubacarr applied for a long adjournment to enable them complete the investigation. However, the judge said that when the case came up she thought that investigation is completed and that the state was ready for the trial. She said the case is a criminal trial and as such the prosecution cannot get a long adjournment.
Responding to the application of the prosecution Lawyer Mene said what he can understand from the DDPP is that they are still not ready with the investigation. He added that what has been filed even though is not before the court is incomplete . He said the exhibits, list of witnesses and summary of evidence are pending.
“There is no information before the court to sit on this case. Until proper information is before the court, the court cannot sit on the case. This is the third non-executive time the case is coming up without a proper charge”, argued Lawyer Mene.
Barrister Mene urged the court to invoke it’s powers on section 19(5) of the constitution or alternatively he urged the court to strike out case for lack of diligent prosecution so that they can have their investigation and bring their experts from any part of the world for thorough investigation then the court will not be a storage facility for any case which is not ready to proceed.
Chime, Attorney for Mr. Gomez associated himself with the submission of lawyer Mene and added that if there is no information before the court the court is not properly constituted to continue with the case. He said the only alternative for the court is to strike out the matter and discharge the accused persons.
“This court is not a church or a mosque where people will gather. It is well known that this court does not entertain unnecessary adjournments. We are ready to come back anytime the state is ready . There is nothing before the court and this court is acting based on illegality”, submitted Lawyer Chime.
For his part Lawyer Richard said if the court is not minded to discharge the accused persons let them be granted bail because his client is sick and he is denied the right to a Doctor.
“My client has people who are ready to stand as sureties and he is ready to clear his name to the purported charges levied against him.”
Lawyer Achigbue also associated himself with the submissions of his learned friends and added that this is a trial by speculation and no court can act on speculation or imagination of the state. He urged the court to take full force of the law.
Lawyers Dago and S. Kenedy strongly associated themselves with the submissions of the preceding defence counsels.
Responding to the defence counsels, DDPP Abubacarr said he objects vehemently to the application of the defence counsels . He submitted that they were able to establish to the court that they have filed information and that being the case the court is enjoined to take cognizant of that fact.
He continued, “It is therefore erroneous and misconceived for counsels to hold that there is nothing before the court. We submit that having filed information if counsel must apply for bail they must do so formally. Therefore, my lord the application for bail of the accused persons lacks merit and should be rejected. On the issue of striking out the case, we urge the court to reject the application as lacking in basis”.
Replying on points of Law defence counsel Mene said in exercise of the power vested on the court on section 19(5) of the 1997 constitution, it does not require a formal application. He said nothing is before the court and the suit still bears BMC number, not a high court number.
All other lawyers associated themselves with Lawyer Mene’s submission.
In her ruling Justice Sillah-Camara held that she would have discharged the accused persons but the court is minded to the fact that the state has filed information. She said the case is transferred from the subordinate court therefore the case is a legal case and the accused persons are presumed innocent. She granted the application of the state for an adjournment. The case continues on Monday 27 March, 2017 at 12noon for mention. She ordered for the accused persons to be remanded in custody.