Sep 24, 2008, 9:02 AM
The first witness for the prosecution in the robbery trial involving the former Inspector General of Police, Ensa Badjie, testified yesterday at the special criminal court of the High Court in Banjul.
When the case was called, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard N. Chenge, informed the court that the state intends to withdraw the charges against the other two accused persons: Kemenseng Colley and Ismaila Colley, who were charged alongside Ensa Badjie.
The court was told that Kemenseng Colley and Ismaila Colley, the 3rd and 4th accused persons respectively, both prison officers would be used as prosecution witnesses instead.
The presiding judge, Justice J.E. Ikpala, subsequently granted the application and their names were struck out, leaving Ensa Badjie and Ali Ceesay in the case.
Testifying as the first witness for the prosecution, one Soriba Cordeh told the court that he is a driver from Bakoteh, and is currently in prison. He told the court that he knows the 1st accused, (Ensa Badjie) and the 2nd accused, (Ali Ceesay). Cordeh told the court that he came to know the 1st accused in the year 2000, when he was arrested by him (the 1st accused) with some cannabis. At the time, the 1st accused was a police officer attached to the Serrekunda Police Station.
"He arrested me with a quantity of 5 kg of cannabis. When he arrested me, I told him that he has to help me not to go to jail, and he (the 1st accused) asked me how he could help."
At this juncture, lawyer Borry Touray, the counsel for the 1st accused, rose and said, "there is no charge here on which the witness is giving evidence. The evidence he should adduce should be related to the charges the accused was charged with."
The DPP then objected, and referred the court to Section 169 of the Evidence Act to strengthen his objection.
Defence counsel BS Touray argued that what the witness was saying is prejudicial to the defence. He also read out Section 169 of the Evidence Act to convince the court that sufficient foundation has not been laid by the prosecution.
Meanwhile, the witness continued to testify, saying that "the 1st accused asked me if I have money on me, and I said to him (1st accused) that I have D2, 000. He told me to give it to him, but said he will confiscate the cannabis, to which I agreed, and gave him both the D2, 000 and the cannabis."
He further testified that the 1st accused took him to a bar belonging him and one Tony.
"I was introduced to Tony in the year 2004, as his boy, and then Tony took me to his compound in Manjai, where I found a friend of mine living in the same compound with Tony, called Saikou Touray.
"The 1st accused frequently comes to that compound, and brings alcohol and all of us used to drink. Well, one day in 2004, he came and told us that 'today I had an operation.'"
At this juncture, the DPP intervened and asked him what type of operation it was. In reply, the witness said "shop breaking".
"The 1st accused said there is one Fula man who is residing in Serrekunda, and told us that he did not want anybody to know about the operation, and that whatever happens he will protect all of us," Cordeh stated.
"We executed the operation, and we took 15 cartons of Piccadilly cigarette that night. We took the cartons to Manjai and gave three cartons to him out of the 15, and we shared the rest of it among ourselves."
He adduced that the operation was done at a place called Lacubalo Avenue near Banjul Garage. He told the court that they broke the padlocks, got inside and took the cartons of Piccadilly.
"The place we broke into was a shop, but I don't know the name of the shopkeeper. But Landing Bojang knows the owner, and he was part of the operation. I was arrested after the operation. The people who took part in the operation were myself, Landing Bojang, Yusupha Conteh, Bunkling, and Saikou Touray. These were the people who participated in this operation."
At this juncture, Justice Ikpala adjourned the case to 10 June at 9:30 am for continuation of the witness's testimony.
The former police boss and his co-accused are facing criminal charges at the special criminal court of the high court. Both of them have denied the charges.
The counts range from conspiracy to commit a felony, robbery with violence, receiving stolen property, aiding and abetting, robbery, conspiracy to commit misdemeanour, aiding prisoner to escape, official corruption, conspiracy to defeat justice and interference with witnesses, deceiving witnesses, offences relating to judicial proceeding, to using criminal charms, among others.