Feb 2, 2009, 4:39 AM
On resumption of his trial yesterday before Justice Na Ceesay Salla-Wadda of the Banjul High Court, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Emmanuel Fegbenle, informed the court that the prosecution was unable to serve the first accused with the indictment because it was a registered company which had to be served personally. He however noted that the place was locked and the keys to the office were in the care of the second accused, Mr. Charles Northfield. He added that they tried to reach the 2ndaccused on phone, in his capacity as the most senior official of the 1staccused, but they could not.
The DPP further submitted that it would have been necessary for the proceedings to continue effectively, had the court granted them permission to serve the 1staccused through the 2ndaccused. He observed that if the 1staccused was not served, the proceedings could not take place because they are jointly charged, adding that in a corporate matter, service is effected to a company at registered place of business. He submitted further that the 2ndaccused, at the relevant time, was the manager of the company and was competent to receive the service for the 1staccused, being a person in legal terms. He therefore applied for a substituted service on the 1staccused through the 2ndaccused
In reply the defence counsel, Lawyer Mene, countered that the prosecution knew that service to the 1staccused had to be personal until the court granted them a substituted service, enquiring as to which court granted them the substituted service for them to try to serve the 1staccused through the 2ndaccused in the first place
Lawyer Mene also dismissed the assertion by the prosecution
that the keys to the office were in the hand of the 2ndaccused, adding that on the contrary it was
the police who closed the office and the keys to the office were with the police.
He further submitted that on record the 2ndaccused only represented himself, adding that the 2ndaccused, being a senior official at the company, could not be compelled to receive service meant for another. He argued that the prosecution had no right or authority to appoint the 2ndaccused as representative of the company.
He indicated that the 2ndaccused is no longer an employee of the 1staccused since the office of the 1staccused has been closed by the police. He said the prosecution should come by way of formal application if they wanted substituted service, which would be determined by the court based on its merit.
The case was adjourned to today for ruling on the application.