By Kebba Jeffang
Mr. Bakary Nyassie, the Managing Director of the Gambia International Airport (GIA), who has been under detention for sixty one days without trial, was finally arraigned yesterday, Tuesday, 21st October, 2014 before Magistrate Dawdo Jallow of Banjul Magistrates’ Court charged with 6 counts.
After the accused pleaded not guilty to all the 6 counts which include economic crime, stealing, etc., the matter was then transferred to the High Court for the commencement of trial.
When the case was mentioned, police prosecutor Sub-Inspector Badjie appeared for the state whilst the accused person was represented by Lawyer Kebba Sanyang.
The Court Clerk read out the charges in a crowded courtroom. The accused person is charged on count one with economic crime contrary to section 5 (a) of the economic crimes specified offences, Cap 13.07 Vol. 3 laws of the Gambia. It states in the particulars of offence that Bakary Nyassie, on or about the month 2011, at Gambia International Airport (GIA) at Yundum in the West Coast Region in the republic of the Gambia, received an amount of One Hundred and Twenty Thousand dalasi (D120, 000) from the Director of Finance of GIA as per diem allowance to escort 127 APRC pilgrims to Mecca, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was cancelled and that the said allowance was not returned to GIA thus causing economic loss to the government of the Gambia and thereby committed an offence.
On the second count, the statement of offence is Economic crime contrary to section 5 (g) of specified offences Cap 13. 07, Laws of The Gambia.
The particulars of offence states that Bakary Nyassie, for that he did in 2007 and 2014 within the Republic of the Gambia, while holding public office, corruptly or dishonestly abuses office for private benefit by registering or facilitating the registration of a private aviation related company to wit Gamjet and Basikom by holding 27% and 12% shares, thereby committed an offence.
Count 3 is Stealing, contrary to section 252 of the Criminal Code Cap 10.01 Vol 3 revised Laws of The Gambia 2009 and the particulars of offence states that Bakary Nyassie on or about the month of October, 2011 at GIA premises at Yundum in the Republic of the Gambia, received D120, 000 as per diem allowances from the GIA Finance Department to escort 127 APRC pilgrims to Mecca in the Kindom of Saudi Arabia which was cancelled and he fraudulently converted same amount for his own use and thereby committed an offence.
On the fourth count of Abuse of Office contrary to section 90 (1, 2) of the Criminal Code Cap 10.01 Vol. 3 laws of the Gambia, the particulars of offence states that the same person on or about the year 2007 at Lamin village, Kombo North, West Coast Region and diverse places within the Republic of the Gambia, being employed as Director of Operation and Managing Director of GIA, established a business company called Gamjet that has a similar aviation related matters with GIA, thus competing the interest of GIA and thereby committed an offence.
The fifth count which is Neglect of official duty contrary to Section 113 of the Criminal Code Cap 10.01 Vol. 3, Laws of the Gambia, state in its particulars of offence that, the accused person, between the year 2009 and 2014 at GIA premises in Yundum, WCR, being employed as the Managing Director of GIA, neglected his duty for not strictly supervising over all officers under his authority who are entrusted with receipts and expenditure of public money and failed to take precautions by maintenance of sufficient checks against chairpersons of the Hajj issuing unofficial receipts that create a doubt of fraud, embezzlement or carelessness and thereby committed offence.
On the sixth count, he was charged with Neglect of official duty contrary to Section 113 of the Criminal Code Cap 10.01, Vol. 3 Laws of The Gambia. The particulars of offence state that Bakary Nyassie on or about the year 2007 and 2014 at Lamin village, Kombo North, West Coast Region and diverse places within the Republic of the Gambia, being employed as Director of Operation and Managing Director of GIA, neglected his duty by failing to declare to his Permanent Secretary (authorities) of his establishment, involvement in the private businesses which is contrary to Code of Conduct of public servants and thereby committed an offence.
At this point, Police SI Badjie, the prosecutor, applied for the matter to be transferred to the High Court as the competent court to entertain economic crime related cases. He said by virtue of Section 12 of CPC, the high court has the jurisdiction to hear the case.
He also told the court that he was objecting to the bail to be granted to the accused person.
Lawyer Sanyang, standing for the accused person, in response, argued that the offence is bailable and that it is in line with Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which states that bail is the discretion of the court. He said this section only exempted death and life imprisonment offences and therefore urged the court to grant bail to the accused person.
In his ruling, Magistrate Jallow stated that he granted the application made by the prosecution for the matter to be transferred to the High Court.
The trial magistrate further ruled that he upheld the submission of the defence counsel by granting bail to the accused person. The conditions for bail are for the accused to provide two Gambian sureties and each of whom must deposit D500, 000 to the Court Registrar and to submit their ID Cards and swear to an affidavit of means. He added that the accused person himself must also submit all his traveling documents to the Court Registrar and should be reporting every Monday and Thursday to the police headquarters in Banjul.