Ex. Protocol Officer’s case fails to proceed due to ill health of trial judge

 By Kebba Jeffang

The habeas corpus case filed by the wife of Modou Sowe, a former protocol Momodou Soweofficer who disappeared from public view for nearly two years, did not proceed yesterday, 23 October, 2014 before the Criminal Division of the Banjul High Court due to the reported ill health of the trial judge.

The basis of the case is that Mrs.  Amie Sowe, the plaintiff and wife of Mr. Sowe, holds that her husband has been held in state custody for almost two years without lawful reason and wants his release.

Lawyer Sagarr Jahateh, lawyer of the plaintiff, told reporters that the case has been adjourned to 19 November, 2014 as Justice Mikhailu Abdullah, the trial judge, was indisposed due to ill health.

The proceeding was expected to hear the argument from the defence on whether or not the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should appear for the state.

It could be recalled that on the 31st July, 2014, S.H. Barkun, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), in his submission, told the Court that he has the mandate to appear for the Attorney General (AG) in any matter before the court.

He argued that the constitutional jurisdiction which the defence relied on is not exclusive and that, as such, the functions of the (DPP), as stipulated by Section 85 of the Constitution, is open.

He further submitted that the lawyer for the applicant has not provided any authority to suggest that the DPP cannot appear for the Attorney General in civil matters. He said Section 85 of the Constitution is like any other provision which can be mitigated by other powers. He argued that the constitutional provision which the counsel is relying on cannot debar him from the case.

At this juncture, Mr. Barkun drew the attention of the court to Section 13 (4) and (1) of the State Proceeding Act. He further cited Section 7 (1a) of the Court Act, arguing that as a public officer, he has the legitimacy to appear for the Attorney General in this matter.

“The Attorney General has the power to delegate any public officer or individual to appear in any case, provided that one is a public and law officer, nothing can debar the Director of Public Prosecution to appear in any proceedings,” he submitted.

The DPP further referred to Section 18 of the Legal Practising Act, arguing that the Inspector General of Police is a public officer and urged the court to dismiss the application made by the lawyer for the applicant.

However, on the 5th August proceeding, the matter was heard in Chambers.

It was for Lawyer Sagarr Jahateh to reply to the submission made by the DPP when it was adjourned to 23 October 2014.