By Mamadou Dem
Dr. Njogu L. Bah, the erstwhile Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Presidential Affairs Minister, in continuing with his defence at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court yesterday, 7 January, said his mandate was to ensure the smooth running of the Gambia civil service with adequate staff, including the mission in New York.Dr. Bah is standing trial on a single count charge of ‘Abuse of Office’ for allegedly interfering with the recommendation and posting of Ms Jainaba Jobarteh to the Gambia Permanent Mission at the United Nations in New York, without following the proper procedure of nomination. He denied any wrong doing
In his defence, he told the court that he knew Mariama Ndure Njie when she was Permanent Secretary No. 2 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that he was aware of Mrs. Njie’s presence at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) during the course of investigations into the matter.
When asked by Lamin Mboge, his defence counsel whether he knew why Mrs. Njie was at the NIA, Bah responded that he knew she was there regarding the case.
Responding to the evidence of Yusupha Dibba, the second prosecution witness (PW2), the accused said he totally disagrees with what he (Dibba) has said before the court. “He said I called him and instructed him on the postings of Miss Jobarteh to the United Nations Mission in New York. I have said at the NIA that it was far from the truth. That it did not happen. I did not call him to instruct him for the postings of Miss Jobarteh to our mission in New York,” he told the court.
Bah added that he did not have to call him.
“May I inform this honourable court that posting does not work like that. Appointments, postings, dismissals, redeployment and movements have never been done like that. No third party has ever been invited in anything relating to these areas that I have mentioned in particular in this case,” he said.
The former Secretary General further told the court that the Personal Management Office (P.M.O) is directly under the office of the Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Office of the President, adding that when you go to ministries you find a permanent secretary there as the technical adviser to the minister.
Bah said the P.M.O Permanent Secretary is responsible for civil service matters, adding that the PMO head is his own permanent secretary as secretary general and head of the civil service. He said Mr. Dawda Fadera, current PMO PS, who is the third prosecution witness (PW3) in this case, was his technical adviser on civil service matters.
He told the court that it doesn’t make sense for him to call another PS to instruct his own PS (Fadera) to do something for him and which he (Bah) could have simply asked the PMO PS to do. “Why would I involve a third party?” he asked.
Bah said the relationship between his then office and that of the PMO was strictly confidential and that letters and files from the latter were marked as confidential, adding that nobody else was invited if they wanted to post somebody.
He said if there is need for any postings in the civil service, it is the concern departments or ministries who would do their internal vetting and verifications and then prepare a file which they minute to the PMO PS for onward transmission to the Secretary General seeking for endorsement or otherwise.
On Mr. Fadera’s testimony, the accused said PW3 stated that the procedure was followed when appointing Miss Jainaba Jobarteh.
“I was the Secretary General and I have duties to fulfil. Pw3 sent me a file and that file is available conveying a proposal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and believing that my PS, PW3 is a professional, very experience who take his work seriously, I knew then that his office did their job, sent me a file and sought for my endorsement or otherwise,” he said.
Bah said he received the file which he then looked at and was convinced by the content of that minute. “I believe that it was going to help immensely our mission in New York that was seriously handicapped in capacity of staffing. As the then Secretary General, I was mandated to ensure the smooth functioning of the civil service and that indeed making sure that I have adequate staff in the civil service and in this case in our mission. A mission that is so important to The Gambia, United Nations, where Gambia needs to be fully represented. I endorsed the file and returned it back to PMO with approval,” Bah told the court.
At this juncture, the case was adjourned to January 13th, 2015 for continuation.
Prior to the continuation of his defence, the court rejected the admission of documents submitted by the defence i.e. Manual of the Terms of Reference of the Secretary General and Mariama Ndure Njie’s witness statements.
By Mamadou Dem