May 7, 2014, 11:44 AM
Momodou Lamin Nget, former head of the Food Hygiene and Safety Unit at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare , was recently arraigned before acting-Principal Magistrate Alagba of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, charged with giving false information to a public officer.
According to the particulars of offence, the accused person on 13 June 2011, allegedly gave false information to the Office of the President to wit, that Bolong Jobarteh, Karamba Keita, Kemo Touray, Ahmed Samba and Samba Sugufara his co-accused shown on GRTS are now free in the case involving flour, and that Foday Barry, Director of Investigation and Intelligence NDEA, told him that his situation happens only to the truthful people, and the same thing was done to him, and he will not accept the same to happen to any other person, an information he knew was false at the time.
When the case resumed yesterday, his defence counsel, Moses Richards, raised a preliminary objection to the charge against the accused person, stating that it lacks merit.
Richards told the court that his client was charged with giving false information to a public servant.
He told the court that the Office of the President is not the office of a public officer, adding that each and every good citizen has the right to write a petition to that office to express concern.
Counsel added that the court has the duty to intervene in any wrongful charging, one which has caused so much hardship to the members of the public, and should not be left unchallenged, for one should be able to exercise a legitimate right to address his or her grievances.
He cited the section of the Constitution that provides the offices which are not public offices, and these include the Office of the President, the office of the Vice President and the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly.
He added that to resolve this inconsistency, the constitution has provided the alternative for the court to order a stay of proceedings. He therefore sent the case file to the Supreme Court for further advice.
He urged the court not to entertain the charge against the accused person, as it “lacks” merit.
The case at that juncture was adjourned till 14 July 2011, for the prosecution to reply.