By Rohey Jadama
State counsel A.M. Yusuf has replied to the ‘No case submission’ of
the defence in the ongoing trial involving Mr. Ousman Badjie, the
former Works, Transport and Construction minister who is standing trial before Justice Simeon A. Abi of the Banjul High Court yesterday, 26th March, 2015The prosecution argued that a no-case-submission is not admissible
under the Economic Crime Act. He said the accused is charged with five
counts of economic crimes and negligence and that section 3 of the
Economic Crimes Act states that in economic crime cases the court
shall hear all evidence of both parties. He said after the close of
the prosecution’s case, the defence opted for no-case-to-answer submission.
State counsel Yusuf cited section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code
(CPC) which he said, indicated that a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission
applies only to proceedings in the subordinate courts. He said the
court therefore cannot entertain a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission.
He said the defence counsel did not cite any section on which to rely
on when making his submission. “I am urging the court to overrule the
defence’s ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission and call on the accused to
enter into his defence,” he said.
Counsel added that even if the prosecution did not reply to the
‘no-case-to-answer’ submission, the court ought to take cognizance of
section 3 of the Economic Crimes Act.
Objecting to the entire submission of the state, Lawyer Camara told
the court that the prosecution’s reply on the no-case-submission does
not amount to a reply but is rather an objection to the jurisdiction
of the court to hear a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission.
Counsel Camara added that an objection on the jurisdiction of the
court to a particular procedure has to be made before the adoption of
that procedure but one cannot sit until that procedure is adopted by
the court and then raised an objection to it. He said a prior
preliminary objection would have determined whether the court can hear
a ‘no-case-to-answer’ submission, adding that this is why it is called
a preliminary objection.
The defence counsel said the prosecution’s objection is misconceived
because it comes when the submission is already done.
Lawyer Camara said the state’s objection on section 3 of the Economic
Crimes Act amounts to nothing because the submission has been done
already. He said section 3 specifically answers certain sections of
the CPC. He said he agreed with the state in so far as the sections are
provided under the law.
Counsel Camara said the prosecution misconstrued the said sections,
adding that a no-case submission is done when the prosecution has been
heard and the accused person not heard.
The defence counsel said the prosecution argued that he did not cite
any law when making his submission, adding that a no-case submission
in the high court is a common law principle which comes under section
7 of the Constitution of the Gambia. He said calling on the accused to
enter defence mandatorily is inconsistent with presumption of innocence
and the right to remain silent and that it finally amounts to asking
the accused to prove his innocence.
On the prosecution’s argument that a ‘no-case to answer’ submission
cannot be made in economic crime charge, Counsel Camara cited the
cases of Mambury Njie, Maimuna Taal, Pa Sallah Jeng, among others,
who, he said, were all acquitted and discharged through a no-case
submission on economic crime in the high court.
The case was adjourned to April 22nd for ruling.
By Rohey Jadama