Witness to Testify in Camera in Ex-NIA Officer’s Trial

By Kebba Jeffang

In the trial of a former NIA operative at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday, 2nd October, 2014, the court overruled an objection made by the defence lawyer and upheld the prosecution’s application to hear its first witness testimony in camera for security reason.

The accused, the former deputy director of operations at the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Beyai, is on trial before Magistrate Jacklin Nixon Hakim

When the case was called, the prosecutor, State Counsel Mam Jobe appeared for the state whilst defence counsel Mr Lamin L.K Mboge was absent.

The magistrate had heard both sides in a previous proceeding and at this proceeding she proceeded by delivering a ruling on the matter. The trial magistrate recalled that during the last sitting, the police prosecutor urged the Court to hear the first prosecution witness’s (an NIA operative) testimony in camera for security reason.

She said the defence lawyer, Mr Mboge, strongly objected to the application, arguing that it is a fundamental right of the accused person to hear his case in public.

She intimated that although she has agreed with the defence counsel based on the Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code provisions, it would not jeopardize fair hearing as has been submitted by defence counsel.

She said “since it cannot cause any injustice in the trial, the application of the prosecution is hereby upheld while the objection of the defence counsel is overruled.”

The matter was therefore adjourned till the 8th October, 2014 to hear the witness in camera.

It could be recalled that Buba Beyai, the dismissed deputy director of operations at the National Intelligence Agency, was on Tuesday 9th September arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court charged with Publication of False News, contrary to the laws of the Gambia.

According to the particulars of offence, Mr Buba Beyai, on or about the 19th day of April, 2014 in Banjul negligently published to one Bakary Dahaba through a telephone call that the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been dismissed from his position, information he knew to be false and thereby committed an offence. He pleaded not guilty as charged.