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Benedict Jammeh still absent from court

May 29, 2013, 12:29 PM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

The former director general of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), Benedict Jammeh, was still absent from court.

Benedict Jammeh was arraigned at the Banjul High Court alongside Superintendent Abdoulie Ceesay, former spokesperson for the NDEA, Foday Barry, former director of intelligence and investigation, and Yusupha Jatta, former director of administration at the NDEA.

They were charged with 90 counts which included economic crime, theft, abuse of office, giving false information, fabricating evidence, false publication, and false broadcasting, among others.

When the case was called yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), S.H. Barkun, rose and notified the court that the case was set for mention, and for the sureties to produce the 1st accused person, or show cause why they should not forfeit the bail bond they signed.

He added that at the last sitting, the court had granted the extension of time for the sureties to search for the absconded 1st accused.

At that juncture, the defence counsel, E.M. Sissoho, walked into the courtroom and announced his representation for sureties, John Moses Jammeh and Ali Jammeh.

Counsel for the two sureties Moses Jammeh and Ali Jammeh, E.M Sissoho told the court that it could not proceed with the case of the sureties, because the right procedures were not adopted by the court.

He added that the sureties were not served with the summons and the procedures adopted were not known by the law, adding that nothing substantive had not been laid that warrants the appearance of the sureties before the court.

There should be summoned with a proper complaint, counsel said.

The defence counsel further argued that the complainant may be the DPP, or the Principal Registrar of the High Court or the Assistant Registrar of the court.

He submitted that the hearing notice issued to the sureties was a wrong procedure, and the hearing notice did not contain any complaint.

“My lord cannot try the sureties because this is the court that granted bail to the 1st accused. This court is the aggrieved party and cannot, therefore, adjudicate this matter,” submitted counsel.

He then urged the court to decline jurisdiction and transfer the case to another court, adding that the court could not be the complainant.

The DPP again rose and urged the court to order for the sureties to show cause immediately why they should not forfeit the bail bond, because the 1st accused person had jumped bail.

He also urged the court to overrule the defence counsel’s application, and order the sureties to forfeit the bail bond.

Justice M. Abdullahi, in his ruling, dismissed the defence counsel’s application for lack of merit.

Counsel Sissoho again stood up and informed the court that he had filed an affidavit, and they are relying on all the paragraphs contained in the affidavit.

He added that JMJ 1 was the bail bond and the bond indicated that there are three persons on the bail bond namely, Benedict Jammeh, John Moses Jammeh and Ali Jammeh.

They are saying that the sureties should not forfeit anything; instead it was Benedict Jammeh who fled, should be the one who should forfeit the bail bond.

He further submitted that JMJ 2 was the property situated at Busumbala in Kombo North district, valued at D5.9million, and JMJ3 was the property situated at Nemasu valued at seven hundreds and ninety- five thousands dalasi.

The defence counsel further argued that the sureties should not forfeit anything, but instead it should be Benedict Jammeh on the grounds that the sureties were not negligent, nor did they aid or abet the 1st accused person to escape.

They had taken steps to secure the appearance of the 1st accused, counsel said, adding that the sureties should not forfeit anything.

He urged the court to use its discretion and order that Benedict Jammeh’s property be forfeited in the fulfillment of the bail bond he had signed.

In response, the DPP informed the court that there was no affidavit before the court, and the burden was still not discharged.

He added that the sureties entered into the bail bond, and signed that they would produce the accused person anytime he was needed by the court.

“You should know the type of person you appear for as a surety,” he added.

The DPP urged the court to overrule the defence counsel’s application.