‘There is no competent charge before the court,’ says defence in gov’t officials case

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Defence counsel E. Sanneh yesterday told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Kebba Baldeh that there is no competent charge before the court, in the case involving 30 government officials.

When the case was called, Inspector Sanyang told the court he was representing the IGP along with Sergeant 656 Jaiteh.

Lawyers Omar Njie, E. Sanneh, and Yasin Senghore represented the accused persons.

Prosecutor Sanyang then referred to section 169 of the CPC to substitute the previous charge sheet with the present one, which was served on the defence team.

He said he was urging the court for some of the accused persons to enter their plea, further indulging the court to grant his application.

Lawyer Omar Njie rose and said that from what he had learned from the prosecutor, he could not understand how the prosecutor’s application came under section 169 of the CPC.

He stated that looking at section 169 (1), the prosecutor missed the points, arguing that there were additional accused persons which had not been provided for by section 169 of the CPC.

He added that they had not been enlightened regarding section 169 (1).

He adduced further that in the charge sheet on 13 July 2016, the accused persons were charged under section 113 of the CPC, and that in the previous charge sheet, count two was abuse of office.

He said the new charge sheet was the same under the same section, adding that there was no charge in the new charge sheet.

From what the prosecutor had said, the list had been increased, counsel went on, adding that looking at section 169 of the CPC, that was not the reason provided for by section 113 of the CPC.

Defence counsel E. Sanneh associated himself with the submission made by Omar Njie.

He argued that it was true that section 169 of the CPC allows for the charge sheet to be amended, adding that section 169 envisages that there must be a material difference between the previous charge sheet which was filed on 30 August 2016, and the one filed yesterday, 18 October 2016.

He stated that all the accused persons were charged under section 113 of the CPC and section 90 of the CPC, adding that both charge sheets of 30 August 2016, and that of 18 October 2016, were the same in all aspects.

Counsel E. Sanneh further argued that the state’s application for an amendment under section 169 of the CPC was misconceived.

He adduced that at the last sitting, the court noted that the state was to regularize the charge sheet by securing the fiat of the Attorney General to enable the matter to be prosecuted.

He added that meanwhile, there was no competent charge before the court, since a fiat had not been obtained.

He said it was, therefore, premature to ask the accused persons to enter their plea, adding that it would appear from the state’s submission that they would not proceed with the matter.

Counsel E. Sanneh further stated that they were asking the court to have regard for its previous order for the state to proceed with the case, as a matter of urgency.

He said the failure of the state to proceed with the matter, “severely flouted” the constitutional rights of the accused persons under section 24 of the constitution.

Defence counsel Yasin Senghore made a similar submission.

Prosecutor Sanyang told the court his application would not cause any injustice to the accused persons.

Magistrate Baldeh, in his ruling, told the court the case could not proceed without a fiat, and that some of the accused persons were absent.

He advised the prosecutor to obtain the consent of the Attorney General to proceed with the case.

The case was adjourned until 1 November 2016.

Author: Dawda Faye