Edi Mass Jobe discharged, 9 face more charges in GNPC case

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Director of Public Prosecutions, S.H. Barkun, yesterday dropped charges against Edrissa Mass Jobe, and brought more charges against nine others, in the GNPC case before Justice O. Ottaba of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul.

The accused persons on the amended charge sheet are Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal, Louie Moses Mendy and Noah Touray.

They were charged with economic crimes, conspiracy to commit felony, neglect of official duty, disobedience of statutory duty, and destroying evidence.

When the case was called, DPP S.H. Barkun, A. Yakubu, B. Jaiteh and A. Adeyemi appeared for the state, whilst senior counsel I.D. Drammeh, H.S. Sabally, R.Y. Mendy, Y. Senghore, B. Conteh, B. Bouye, E. Sanneh, E. Gomez and L.S. Camara represented the defendants.

DPP Barkun then informed the court that they had filed an amended charge sheet in the morning.

He said the amended charge sheet has nine accused persons instead of 10, adding that the name of the 4th accused, Edrissa Mass Jobe, has been dropped from the recent charge sheet.

Whilst they intended to prosecute the rest of the accused persons on the amended charge, they would like to withdraw all charges against Edrissa Mass Jobe, which is the prosecution application.

Counsel I.D. Drammeh, who represented the 4th accused, said they wished to ask for the charges to be dismissed, and would like the court to make a specific order for all the obligations in the bail bond to end, and documents be released to the 4th accused since there was no charge pending.

The trial judge said the application to amend and to drop charges against the 4th accused persons was granted, and the principal registrar was ordered to release his documents and all obligations in the bail bond were revoked.

He, therefore, discharged the 4th accused accordingly.

The 4th accused, Edrissa Mass Jobe, then walked out of the dock and left the court house.

The DPP then asked for the charges to be read to the accused persons.

 However, counsel Drammeh said she was just being served in court and her client had not been able to receive instructions in taking her plea.

She then asked for five minutes to speak to the DPP, which was granted.

 After a few minutes with the DPP outside the courtroom, the DPP and counsel Drammeh returned to the courtroom.

 The DPP then told the court that with consent from counsel Drammeh, he the DPP would like to proceed with plea-taking.

At this juncture, senior counsel H.S. Sabally rose and said: “I was served with the amended charge at 12:55 today; so that is the indictment before the court which consists of 8 counts. My lord will notice that the previous charge is 3 counts and the amended charge is 8 counts. My client has not been able to go through it, and I have just learned it briefly. Ultimately, my client is not ready to take his plea today; so we can come back on Monday.”

She continued: “May I remind the court that, my lord will also notice that the list of exhibits is attached, but the exhibits are not attached; so for my client to take his plea, these documents should be provided and the court made an order for it to be provided.” 

Responding, the DPP said they were very much aware of the court’s order, but the law did not say they should serve it with the charge.

The accused persons should be informed of the charges first, so when that was done they could now serve them with the documents.

 The charges have no independent meaning and this was not a new situation, he said, adding that an adjournment in the matter would “only cause delay”, and if the court would allow them they were ready to proceed with their witnesses.

The fact that they had new charges did not constitute new circumstance that would warrant adjournment, he added.

Counsel Sabally said her client, Cherno Marena, was charged before the court just because he is a board member of GNPC, and they had witnessed the chairman of the board being discharged and charges against him dropped.

“I have not come to court to delay proceedings. I am here to defend my client to the best of my ability,” she said.

The rest of the defence team associated themselves with counsel Sabally’s submissions.

The trial judge, in his ruling, stated that for the fact that there was an amended charge, it was in the interest of justice that the defence be given time to consult with their clients.

The case continues 24 October 2016, at 2pm.

The amended charge in count one stated that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi and Muntaga Momodou Sallah, sometime in 2015 in Banjul and other diverse places, while serving in their various capacities as public officers by willful act or omission cause economic loss to the Government of The Gambia to the tune of seven million and sixty nine thousand, eight hundred dollars and eighty cents ($7,069, 800.80), equivalent to three hundred and twenty nine million four hundred and fifty-six thousand, four hundred and forty-one dalasis (D329, 456, 441.00), by causing the Government of The Gambia to make payment to March Trading, which act was injurious, detrimental and damaging to the economy of The Gambia.

Count two read that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal and Louie Moses Mendy, sometime in the same year and place, while serving in their various capacities as public officers and by willful act or omission, caused economic loss to the Government of The Gambia to the tune of three million, six hundred and ten thousand, six hundred and fifty-six dalasis ( D3, 610, 656.00), being monies expended for air tickets and perdiem on due diligence mission to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (the purpose for which was not fulfilled) and signing or causing a contract to be signed with March Trading, which act was injurious, detrimental, and damaging to the economy of The Gambia.

Count three further stated that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, and Cherno Marena, sometime in the same year and place, while serving in their various capacities as public officers, conspired amongst themselves to commit felony to wit: by willful act or omission, caused economic loss to the Government of The Gambia.

Count four stated that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, and Cherno Marena, in the same year and places, while serving in their various capacity as public officers and whilst on due diligence mission to Dubai United Arab Emirates on the competence and capacity of March Trading to supply fuel to the Government of The Gambia, willfully neglected to execute such mission in accordance with the Gambia Public Procurement Act.

Count five also stated that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S. Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, and Cherno Marena, in the same year and places, while serving in their various capacity as public officers and whilst on due diligence mission to Dubai United Arab Emirates on the competence and capacity of March Trading to supply fuel to the Government of The Gambia, willfully omitted to comply with the requirements of the GPPA.

Count six stated that Momodou O.S. Badjie, in the same year and place while serving as the Managing Director of the Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC), willfully neglected to advertise the pre-qualification bidding process for the contract of supply of petroleum to the GNPC in accordance with the Gambia procurement Act.

Count seven read that Momodou O.S. Badjie, in the same year and place while, serving as the Managing Director of the Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC), willfully neglected to advertise the pre-qualification bidding process for the contract of supply of petroleum to the GNPC as required by the GPPA Act.

Count eight indicated that Noah Touray, in the same year and place while, serving as Secretary to Cabinet in the Office of the President, knowing that a file pertaining to the contract with GNPC and March Petroleum could be used in judicial proceedings against Sira Wally Now-Njai as evidence in court, willfully removed and destroyed the said file. 

Author: Halimatou Ceesay
Source: Picture: Edrissa Mass Jobe