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Ex-Chief Justice Wowo gets High Court bail

Aug 16, 2013, 10:41 AM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

The Special Criminal Court in Banjul yesterday granted a one million dalasi bail bond to former Chief Justice Joseph Wowo with two Gambian sureties of whom one or both must deposit a title deed of a property within the Greater Banjul Area.

This was contained in a ruling delivered by Justice Emmanuel Nkea during Wednesday’s hearing of the bail application that was filed by Wowo’s defence counsel.

Justice Wowo was on 7 August 2013 arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court and charged with seven counts, all relating to giving false information to a public officer.

He denied the charges, and was subsequently remanded in custody at the State Central Prison Mile 2.

His defence counsel filed a bail application at the Special Criminal Court that granted him bail, following a ruling it delivered to that effect.

Delivering the ruling, Justice Nkea stated that the applicant herein, Justice Joseph Wowo had approached the court by a notice of motion dated and filed on 7 August 2013, wherein he prays the court for an order admitting him to bail pending the determination of the charges brought against him at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

He stated that the application was brought pursuant to the constitution and it was supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit, and attached to the further affidavit was a copy of the charge sheet and the ruling of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court in which the applicant was denied bail and then remanded in custody.

He added that the state respondent filed a 13-paragraph affidavit in opposition.

The summary of the applicant’s case for bail according to the affidavit evidence before the court was that the offences with which the applicant was being charged with were misdemeanours and bailable offence.

He said the applicant affidavit further stated that he was a former Chief Justice of The Gambia and a patient in constant need of special medication and medical care, and that he has reasonable sureties to get him on bail.

He had earlier been grated bail on the same charges on the terms he did not disrespect, and he would not interfere with the investigation and witnesses if granted bail, and would make himself available to stand trial.

Justice Nkea further pointed out that the summary of the case against the grant of bail by the state respondent was that the investigations into the matter are ongoing against the applicant and other suspects.

Witnesses in the case against the applicant include persons who had worked under him before, and that the applicant would not respect the terms of bail if granted as he has made certain incriminating statements to the NIA that would trigger more charges.

He was not a Gambian, being a Nigerian national with American citizenship with no fixed assets or relations in The Gambia, and would therefore likely jump bail if granted, he said of the affidavit in opposition.

The judge said in adopting the respective affidavits before the court, both sides made oral arguments in support of their respective positions.

“Having read through the entire affidavit evidence before me, and having carefully read through the proceedings of the trial court and the reason why the applicant was refused bail, I find it necessary to emphasize that the grant of bail for offences of this nature is not a favour to be distributed according to nationality or ethnic origin. It is an issue that should be guided by the law and the surrounding circumstances of each case,” Justice noted.

He said in this case, he found that it was speculative for the trial court to reach the conclusion that the applicant would jump bail only because he was not a Gambian.

Justice Nkea disclosed that where the offences are bailable as in this case, the grant of bail ought not to be unjustifiable denied, and the denial of bail would be justifiable where the state had led concrete evidence that the applicant was likely to jump bail or that he was likely to interfere with the investigation and witnesses.

“In total, I have not seen any reason why I should not admit the applicant to bail. I will grant the prayers sought but in order to assuage the fears that have been raised I will imposed very stringent conditions,” he said.

“In view of the foregoing, I shall admit the applicant, Justice Joseph Wowo, to bail in the sum of D1,000, 000 and two Gambian sureties one or both of whom must deposit title to property within the Greater Banjul Area.

“ The applicant to deposit all his travel documents with the Principal Registrar of this Court, and shall not be allowed to leave his residence except within the hours of 11am and 5pm both hours inclusive.

‘‘The applicant to report every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Kairaba Police Station between the hours of 11am and 12mid-day and the Station Officer shall take record of this.”