Apr 19, 2013, 8:42 AM
Three members of staff of the Rural Finance Project of the Ministry of Agriculture were, on 1st February 2011, arraigned and charged before Magistrate Tabally of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
Dr. Alasana M. Bah, Alieu Jeeri Bah and Sam Ali Ashcroft all pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit felony and stealing by clerk or servant.
According to the charge sheet, on count one, Dr. Alasana M. Bah and Alieu Jeeri Bah between September and December 2010, at Cape Point in Bakau, with intent to commit a felony, jointly conspired to cause the loss of D722, 925.00 from Rural Finance Project of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Count two stated that Dr. Alasana M. Bah and Alieu Jeeri Bah, in September 2010, at Cape Town in Bakau, by virtue of their position as project managers, fraudulently released funds to GAWFA to the tune of D1,135,850.00 leading to the loss of D117,350, by Rural Finance Project under the Ministry of Agriculture.
Dr. Alasana M. Bah was again separately charged alongside Sam Ali Ashcroft.
According to count one of the charge sheet, Dr. Alasana M. Bah and Sam Ali Ashcroft between April and November 2010, at Cape Point in Bakau, with intent to commit a felony, jointly conspired to steal fuel coupons amounting to D1,040,000, being property of the of Rural Finance Project of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Count two revealed that Dr. Alasana Bah and Sam Ali Ashcroft, between April and November 2010, at Cape Point Bakau by virtue of their position as project manager and finance manager, fraudulently stole fuel coupons amounting to D1, 040,000, being the property of Rural Finance Project of the Ministry of Agriculture.
In applying for bail, Awa Sisay Sabally, counsel for Dr. Alasana M. Bah and Alieu Jeeri Bah, told the court that her clients are responsible citizens of the country with families.
She adduced that the offence under which the accused were charged with are bailable offences, and that her clients have no intention to leave the jurisdiction while the case is pending.
She went further to say that “the accused do not in any way want to interfere with any investigation or potential witnesses, as they do not even know the witnesses in this case.
She urged the court to exercise its discretion in her clients’ favour to grant them bail.
Bolla Carrol, counsel for Sam Ali Ashcroft, also urged the court to grant bail to his client, as the alleged offence is a bailable offence.
He submitted that “sureties can guarantee my client’s appearance in court anytime” as the accused intends to vigorously defend the allegation.
Police Prosecutor Inspector Mballow, in response, told the court that the prosecution was objecting to bail for the accused persons.
He conceded that though the charges were not capital offences, they are felonies which, he said, are serious charges.
He cited reasons why the accused persons should be refused bail; that if the accused persons are granted bail there is a likelihood that they would leave the jurisdiction of the court; that the accused persons might interfere with the potential prosecution witnesses or investigation, and there is also likelihood that the accused persons, while on bail, might commit another similar offence.
Inspector Mballow added that the 1st accused person, Dr.Alasana M.Bah, has a similar charge before the same court and might abscond the jurisdiction of the court.
He added that the investigators are trying to compile a case file in the matter, adding that there is high likelihood that the accused would interfere directly or indirectly with witnesses.
He urged the court to refuse the accused persons bail.
The trial magistrate subsequently granted bail of D2 million each with two Gambian sureties each and one of the sureties must be owner of a landed property situated in the Greater Banjul Area. The sureties must deposit their biometric ID card.
The accused persons were also ordered to deposit their travel documents to the court , and not to interfere with or intimidate the witnesses.
The case was adjourned until 15 February 2011.