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Court urged to acquit, discharge Immigration officers

Oct 22, 2010, 12:57 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyokeh

Lawyer Buba Jawo, one of the defence counsel in the criminal trial of 14 Immigration Officers attached at the Gambia International Airport, two other civilians and a Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) security officer yesterday urged the Brikama Magistrates' Court to acquit and discharge the accused persons, arguing that the state is not prepared to prosecute the accused persons.

According to counsel Jawo, the state did not give any reason for their absence in court even though they were the ones that took the date and time.

He said it is unfair on the side of the accused persons, whose charges continue to hang on their neck, stressing that the accused persons need to know their fate at a reasonable time.

Counsel Jawo then urged the court to use its discretional powers to fast track the case in the interest of justice and fair hearing.

Lawyer Hajum Gaye, another defence counsel, told the court that the charges brought against the accused persons had been dragging for more than 14 months now.

She submitted that the case is not prosecuted diligently due to the instance of the state, noting that it seems that the state lacked interest and confidence to prosecute the matter.

Counsel Gaye expressed concern over the state's failure to appear in court and urged them not to prioritise cases, especially in criminal matter.

She further submitted that priority should be given to all cases irrespective of the persons involved. Counsel Gaye also urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused persons since the state is not prepared to prosecute the accused persons.

She stated that the case has been suffering series of adjournments at the instance of the state prosecutors.

Magistrate Secka adjourned the case till 28th October 2010 for ruling.  

The accused persons, according to the charge sheet, on or about the 3rd July 2009, at the Gambia International Airport within the jurisdiction of the court, allegedly forged an international passport in order to dishonestly enable one Ebrima Bah to travel to the United States of America. They are also alleged to have conspired to commit official corruption.

According to the charge sheet, the accused, being public officers employed in the public services of the Gambia, charged with the duties of screening passengers traveling at the Airport, allegedly conspired among themselves and others still at large, to corruptly receive a bribery of ten thousand and five hundred Dalasi (D10, 500) from one Cherno Bah to enable his brother Ebrima Bah dishonestly use a forged passport to travel to USA, and thereby committed an offence.