By Rohey Jadama
Lamin Fatajo, former project coordinator, Rural Finance Project, Lamin Mass, former acting Finance and Administrative Manager, and Sulayman Manneh, the Auditor of the same project under the ministry of agriculture, were yesterday 30 September,granted bail in the sum of 7 million and 6 million, respectively, by Justice Muhammed Dan Azumi Balarabe of the Banjul High court.Prosecutors earlier presented at the lower court in Banjul a ten count indictment against the aforesaid persons ranging from ‘Stealing by Person in Public Service’, ‘Abuse of office,’ ‘Stealing by clerk or servants’ and ‘Theft to four counts of Economic Crimes’. All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case was thus transferred to the high court which has the jurisdiction to hear economic crime cases.
The presiding judge in his ruling said Mr. Fatajo and Mr. Mass applied for bail pursuant to section 99 of the Criminal Procedure code, section 24 of the 1997 Constitution and filed an affidavit which contains 28 paragraphs and an additional 7 paragraph affidavit.
Justice Balarabe said Edward Singhatey, the counsel for Fatajo and Mass, in his affidavit told the court that it is not clear in the charges presented before the lower court as to who did what and who embezzled what. He said the applicants are standing trial in the high court on similar offences and were granted bail in the sum of D3 million and they did not abscond.
Replying to the application, A.M Yusuf told the court that the applicants are standing trial on a different matter. He argued that considering the amount of 8 million, the accused persons are more likely to abscond if granted bail and that investigation is still on-going.
“I hereby grant bail to Lamin Fatajo and Lamin Mass in the sum of 7 million dalasi to be paid cash to the Registrar of the high court. The applicants should have two reliable sureties, a bank guarantee, a title deed and one of the sureties must be a senior civil servant. In case the applicants abscond the said sum shall be forfeited to the state,” ruled the presiding judge.
On Sulayman Manneh’s bail application, the trial judge said the applicant filled an affidavit containing 26 paragraphs deposed to by the applicant. He further added that the applicant also filed a supporting affidavit consisting of 13 paragraphs deposed to by the applicant’s first wife.
Justice Balarabe said the applicant’s Lawyer, Segga Gaye, drew the court’s attention to the health condition of the applicant and exhibited various medical reports relating to the applicant’s health . He said exhibit MM1 is a medical report from Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital that the applicant has been diagnosed of a chronic Liver disease and that MM2 is a medical report stating that the applicant has a heart disease and MM3 is the report issued to the applicant in Dakar translated into English.
He said state counsel A.M. Yusuf told the court that the medical report of the applicant is dated 2012 which is 3 years ago.
The trial judge, in his ruling, said the medical report of the applicant shows that the applicant is really sick, embattled and appears weak before him and needs medical attention.
“In view of the above, bail is hereby granted to the applicant in the sum of 6 million dalasis to be paid cash pending the arraignment of the applicant, his house to be assess in the like sum, a bank guarantee and in case the applicant absconds the said amount should be forfeited to the state. In an event the accused cannot fulfil bail, he should be remanded in the prison clinic and should be escorted to the hospital either within or outside the prisons,” ruled justice Balarabe.
By Rohey Jadama