Former SG appears in court, remanded

By Mamadou Dem

Momodou Sabally, erstwhile Secretary General, Head of the Civil ServiceModou Sabally SG and Presidential Affairs Minister, yesterday 11th August, 2014 appeared before Justice Mikailu Abdullah of the Banjul High court.

He is charged with two counts of Abuse of Office and a count of Economic Crimes contrary to the laws of The Gambia.

According to the particulars of offence on count one, the aforesaid person about the Month of May 2014 at Banjul, did commit an offence to wit: while serving as Secretary General caused Economic loss to Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to the tune of four hundred and two thousand five hundred dalasis (D402,500) by unduly influencing the said Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation  to fund a program titled Youth Career Development Program organized by Mariama Sillah without recourse to due process and thereby committed an offence.

On count two of the particulars of offence, the prosecution alleged that the former Secretary General about the Month of May, 2014 at Banjul, did commit an offence to wit: in flagrant abuse of his office as the Secretary General influenced Social Security and Housing Finance to sponsor a program titled Youth Career Development Program organized by Mariama Sillah and thereby committed an offence.

The particulars of offence on count three alleged that the said accused person in the same Month this year, at Banjul, did commit an offence to wit: in flagrant abuse of his office as the then Secretary General, and blatant disregard of due process influenced Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to sponsor a program titled “Youth Career Development Program” organized by Mariama Sillah. He denied any wrong doing.

Upon entering a plea of not guilty by the court, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Hadi Saleh Barkum said “In view of the plea of the accused person, we will be applying for a date of hearing after the vacation, however before the case is adjourned, we have an application to make which is an order to leave the accused person in the custody of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) owing to the fact that the investigations in relation to other aspects of activities of the accused person is ongoing. We want the court to give an order to that effect.”

The accused who was unrepresented by counsel submitted as follows: “I am a Gambian born and brought up in The Gambia. I never left The Gambia and have served the Central Bank for 10 years. I was a Member of the Commission of Enquiry on Tax Evasion Commission and the Secretary General Head of the Civil Service. I have been detained for five weeks during which I cooperated with the investigators. After five weeks, the investigation is still not concluded. I have a wife and children and I served as an example to young ones.”

Mr. Sabally further submitted to the court that he was born and joined services in The Gambia, thereby ignoring foreign appointments from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) and decided to serve his country. “With this background, I do not see any reason why the prosecution should doubt my integrity. I therefore humbly disagree with the prosecution and I urge the court to grant me bail,” he appealed.

Delivering the ruling, the trial judge stated that he had listened to the submissions of both parties; adding that one of the conditions for granting or refusal of bail is non completion and or interference with the investigations.

According to Justice Abdullah, from the submissions made, both parties agreed that investigation into the case is yet to be completed and for that reason, he does not think that the court should at this stage admit the accused to bail. “The accused may repeat the same application in the cause of the trial if he so wishes,” said Abdullah.

Meanwhile, the case is adjourned till 14th October, 2014 for hearing. “The accused person shall be remanded in the custody of the NIA for further diligence investigations,” he concluded.