Dr. Bah: “I have served my country to the best of my ability”

By Mamadou Dem

Dr. Njogu Bah, erstwhile Secretary General, Head of the Civil Service and Njogu BahPresidential Affairs Minister while concluding his defence in-chief in a single count charge of ‘Abuse of Office,” told the lower court in Banjul that he has served this nation to the best of his ability.

Testifying before Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow, Dr. Bah told the court that Mr. Dibba is a funny and unstable character; adding that Dibba is on contract and has the character to do anything that would earn him an extra mile in his journey towards final retirement.

According to the accused, every two years, Dibba’s contract is renewed. He said when he (Njogu) came in 2005, Mr. Dibba received him in his office as the then point of contact and Permanent Secretary as well.

“When I was appointed as Senior Assistant Secretary, he was the one that handed me my appointment letter. I rose through the ranks and became a Permanent Secretary like him in 2008, then later on I became Secretary to Cabinet, then became Secretary General and I became his boss, ” said Njogu Bah.

The erstwhile Secretary General informed the court that on several occasions Dibba expressed that he was supposed to be the Secretary General. “To whom did he express it to?” lawyer Mboge quizzed.

“Accidentally to me and to others,” replied the witness.

“My reaction to Mr. Dibba was that I did not appoint myself,” he testified; adding he considered Dibba as a brother in the service and describes his testimony against him as a grudge.

Dr. Bah further revealed that Mr. Dibba approached him on many occasions that he (Njogu) should look out for him because people don’t like him in the system because he (Dibba) has served so many ministries and has not got any recognition, that he is old and has young children that he needed to prepare them for their education and their future.

Further reacting to Dibba’s allegation against him, the then civil service head disclosed that Mr. Dibba (PW2) approached him on so many occasions on the issue of recognition of his services. “I recommended him to be awarded a national honour as the longest serving Permanent Secretary in the country.”

DW1 testified that in another occasion the issue of his status and his children, he approached him for recommendation to be an ambassador. He said following their recommendation, Mr. Dibba got appointed as ambassador to Cuba, though he wanted to go to Europe, America or the Western World. He added that Pw2 visited his house once or twice and kept sending emails for him not to forget him. That he never felt secure in the job. He pointed out that Mr Dibba can therefore do anything that would help him stay in the job.

“How did you conclude that he is a funny character?,” his attorney enquired.

“He is a funny character because some of what he says is funny because he talks about issues which are not supposed to be discussed outside,” said Bah. He added that that’s why he said he doesn’t want to be personal.

“My final reaction is my initial reaction that I’m not guilty as charged that I was sent a file from Personal Management Office (PMO) with recommendation to post Miss Jainaba Jobarteh to our Mission. I endorsed the file in good faith and returned it,” he expounded.

“I have sworn that I would execute my  duties without fear or favour, affection or ill will,” said Dw1.

Continuing his testimony, the then Presidential Affairs Minister said, “ My relationship with Miss Jobarteh has been casual. I knew her like I knew many others in the civil service, there is nothing personal in our relationship,” said the witness.

He continued: “Secondly I don’t mix my social life with my work. I didn’t even have time for social life because on weekends I go to the village.” He adduced that he used to work from 8am to 11pm  and before he arrives at his home from Banjul it would almost be midnight.

“I can raise my hand and say I’m proud to be counted with those civil servants that tried to execute the responsibility of their offices without affection or ill will, fear or favour.” said the former SG.

“There was no relationship between us and the posting was done in good faith as mandated by my office,” he insisted.

“I said before in my first trial that I would always be grateful to his Excellency the President…” But state counsel Mansour Jobe quickly interjected and objected to that piece of evidence pursuant to Section 3 of the evidence act which deals with relevancy. The objection was sustained by the court.

“I have served my country to the best of my ability,” Dr. Bah concluded.

At that juncture, the case was adjourned till 19th and 23rd  of February respectively for cross examination by the state.

The state earlier objected to a question asked by the defence as to whether the accused know of any reason why Pw2 would stand before the court and say that the accused instructed him on telephone to effect the posting of Miss Jainaba Jobarteh which the accused denied as untrue, but the objection was overruled and Dw1 was allowed to respond to the question as stated above.