Marie Saine-Firdaus, SSHFC boss charged

Monday, January 03, 2011

Charges have been filed at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court against former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marie Saine-Firdaus, and the Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC), Edward Graham.

Edward Graham, who has vehemently denied the charges, was arraigned on Friday 31st December 2010, charged with economic crimes.

Marie Saine-Firdaus, was reported to be absent from the court, during Friday’s proceeding.

The charge sheet on count one stated that Edward Graham, in 2009 at Banjul, being the Managing Director of the SSHFC, corruptly abused his office to wit: directed Home Finance Company Limited to pay the sum of Eight Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Dalasis (D880, 250) to Marie Saine-Firadus without the necessary collateral.

Count two read that Edward Graham on 2nd September 2010, at Banjul, being a citizen of the Gambia caused financial loss to the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, a public body, by waving interest on mortgages in breach of the Housing Finance and Development Corporation Act, 2010.

Count three stated that Edward Graham, in 2009 at Banjul, within the jurisdiction of the court, being Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, wilfully caused a loss to Home Finance Company Limited, a public body, by directing it to grant a loan to Marie Saine-Firdaus in a manner and on terms detrimental to the economy of the Gambia.

Count four also stated that Marie Saine-Firdaus, in 2009 at Banjul, being a citizen of the Gambia collaborated with Edward Graham, Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to intentionally and corruptly obtain D880,250 from the Home Finance Company Limited in a manner and on terms detrimental to the economy of the Gambia.

Defence counsel Amie Bensouda, in applying for bail on behalf of the accused person, told the court that the alleged offence committed is a bailable one.

She said taking cognisance of the fact that bail was at the desertion of the court, the defence would therefore urged the court to grant the accused person bail.

Senior counsel Bensouda further told the court that his client was travelling to the United Kingdom for an eye operation, and was issued a police clearance and a leave letter to travel to the UK for the eye operation by his office.

She said her client is a responsible public servant, who had served and worked for more than 20 years. He stressed that during the 20 years, he rose through the ranks until he became a Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Corporation.

Counsel Bensouda quoted section 8 of the Economic Crimes Act, which provides that the court may grant bail in certain circumstances as required by the court.

She submitted that there is a special circumstance that warranted his client to have bail to travel to the UK for the eye operation, as he risks losing his eye sights.

“In fact, your worship, tendering the travelling clearance issued to the accused person from the police, and leave letter from his office, are all factors which the court should consider,” she concluded.

Responding to the defence counsel’s submission, state counsel Simon Obi told the court that the state was opposing bail for the accused person.

“We learned that if granted bail, the accused person would jump bail,” he said.

“We have reason why we are opposing bail for the accused person, which we do not want to disclose in the court,” he added.

He pointed out that as regards the documents shown by the defence counsel, the state needed time to verify or confirm the documents before any bail.

Principal Magistrate Nkea in delivering his ruling stated that the court, after hearing from both sides, believed that the accused person might jump bail by refusing to come back to face trial.

He, therefore, ordered the accused person to be remanded in custody at the state central prison at Mile 2.

The case was adjourned till 5th January 2011, for the defence to furnish the court with the relevant documents.

Author: Bakary Samateh
Source: Picture: Marie Saine Firdaus