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Alleged fraudsters’ bail application dismissed for incompetence

Mar 25, 2015, 10:08 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Justice Abi of the Banjul High Court yesterday dismissed for incompetence the bail application made by the defence counsel on behalf of seven men and a woman alleged to have been involved in D7 million plus fraud case.

In his ruling, Justice Abi said he had listened to all the “powerful” submissions and arguments proffered in the bail application.

It was common ground that all the offences alleged in the three-count bill of indictment are bailable offences, he said.

Justice Abi added that the issue on whether the court could entertain an oral application for bail was earlier settled in the affirmative.

However, he was not comfortable with the manner the application came before him.

He said the learned counsel S.M. Tambadou made the application not only on behalf of the 3rd, 4th, 6th applicants whom he (Tambadou) represented, but also on behalf of all the other applicants.

According to him, he did not have any problem with that, but took issue with the counsel making a single joint application in respect of all the applicants.

He said going by the tenor of the application moved by Mr Tambadou, there was no individual qualifying feature in respect of each applicant.

“I refuse to accept that all the applicants in this case can give a joint undertaking to stand their trials as one person, for the devil himself knows not the heart of man,” he said.

“Never will I accept the assertion that there are capable sureties to stand for all of the applicants, because each of these applicants, if granted bail, even on the same conditions with the others, must produce his/her own sureties,” Justice Abi said.

The very nature of bail requires that each applicant vouch for the facts he/she places before the court in order to receive a favourable exercise of discretion, he said.

He said as he held earlier, one case of exercise of discretion is not and should not be precedent for any other, because that in itself would be putting an end to discretion.

It was his view that even in respect of 3rd, 4th and 6th applicants who are all represented by S.M. Tambadou, he must have moved the applications individually even if he wished to apply the same arguments to each of the applicants, he said.

“For this reason, I will rule the joint application for bail on behalf of all the applicants incompetent and accordingly dismiss same,” he declared.

The judge said at this stage he wanted to make reference to the fact that the accused persons had been attending court regularly since 4 March, when all of them appeared.

He took cognizance of the fact that it was the defence counsel’s efforts that ensured that all the accused persons became aware of the present charge and their attendance in court.

“I forbear from making an order of remand today after dismissing the present application,” he said.

“I will, however, order that all the applicants who are interested in obtaining bail from the court shall file a formal application for bail within 24 hours of this order and, in any case, not later than before close of work on 25 March 2015,” he stated.

“I will have this matter adjourned to Thursday 26 March 2015 at 4 pm for mention. Any accused/applicant that does not have a pending application for bail before the court at that date and time will be remanded in prison custody pending he/she can apply for bail”.