NJOGU BAH: COURT TO RULE ON WHETHER TO ADMIT DOCUMENT

By Rohey Jadama

Magistrate Dawda Jallow of the Banjul Magistrate’ Court is expected to deliver a ruling on the Dr. Njogu Bahadmissibility of a document in the criminal trial involving Njogu Bah, the erstwhile Secretary General and head of the Civil Service on the 23rd December, 2014.

Continuing his defence, Njogu Bah told the court that he knew Miss Jainaba Jobarteh as he knew many other civil servants working in the civil service and that he knew her as a staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time and that they travelled together as part of the delegation that accompanied the president to the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in 2012. He said he also knew her through a program that took place in the same year when she was doing French – English interpretation for the Moroccan delegation at the laying of the foundation stone for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He adduced that he recalled receiving a file from the Permanent Secretary Personnel Management Office (PMO), Mr. Dawda Fadera (PW3), in the case where he minuted a proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the posting of Miss Jainaba Jobarteh to our mission in New York. He said in the minute PS Fadera supported the proposal and sought for his endorsement and otherwise. He said he went through the file and that as it was coming from the PMO PS, he knew it has been vetted and has gone through the normal process. He said as head of the civil service, it was his responsibility to support any movement which he believed would enhance capacity in the civil service and also beneficial to the state.

Bah said he was mandated by his duties and responsibility as the secretary general and head of civil service to ensure the smooth running of the civil service and that he believed then and now that Miss Jainaba Jobarteh was qualified for that post at the UN Mission in New York.

He told the Court that he believed the New York Mission at the time was truly understaffed and more personnel were needed. He said having a bilingual who holds a Masters Degree in a related field, he was convinced that the posting was going to enhance capacity and provide the country an opportunity to benefit from her expertise. He said this was why he endorsed the recommendation and returned the file to the PMO PS (PW3) and that the file was available.

“Now do you know where the proposal for the appointment of Miss Jainaba Jobarteh was from?” asked L.K. Mboge, the counsel. Bah, in response, told the court that the file he received from the PS PMO indicated to him that it was conveying a proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and so he assumed that it was from this ministry as that was the practice, adding that this has been buttressed in the evidence in chief of PW3.

“Now do you have a manual for the duties and responsibilities of Secretary General?” asked counsel Mboge. He responded in the positive, adding that it was available not only in the office of the Secretary General but all the staff as well and that he would recognise it.

Lawyer Mboge then applied to tender the said document as a defence exhibit. The state prosecutor, M. Jobe, objected to it, arguing that it is a document that could be prepared by anybody and that it is not relevant to the facts adduced in the case. He urged the Court to reject it.

The defence counsel, in response, said the witness has laid the proper foundation as the source of the manual prepared for all the staff, adding that the accused person is charged with abuse of office and the document sought to be tendered applies to the duties, roles, and responsibility of the office of the Secretary General. He argued that the document is relevant to the proceeding as it will show whether the accused person acted within or beyond his office. He said it is the Court which will determine the weight of the document at the end of the trial. He therefore urged the Court to overrule the objection of the prosecution and mark the said document accordingly.

The matter was adjourned to the 23rd of December, 2014 for ruling.