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Judicial Secretary recalled in Wowo and Jobarteh trial

Oct 2, 2013, 9:35 AM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

John Belford, the Judicial Secretary, was Monday recalled by the prosecution to give further evidence in the case involving former Chief Justice Joseph Wowo and former Attorney General Lamin AMS Jobarteh, at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel NKea.

Justice Wowo and Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh were arraigned on a thirteen-count indictment which included abuse of office, conspiracy to defeat Justiceand interference with witnesses, offences relating to Judicial proceeding, to giving false informing to a public officer, which both denied.

John Belford earlier testified as the fifth prosecution witness (PW5), and was recalled to give further evidence in the case, following the prosecution’s application to recall him.

Belford whose further evidence touched on how a chief justice is appointed, told the court that he is the Judicial Secretary and secretary to the Judicial Service Commission.

“I served for three years at the Judicial Service Commission, and I had served under two acting-Chief Justice, and the acting-Chief Justice is appointed by the Executive in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission,” John Belford said.

He said in appointing the acting-Chief Justice, he received a letter as the Judicial Secretary to endorse the appointment, adding that during his tenure as the Judicial Secretary, the process of appointing the acting-Chief Justice was the same.

He said he conveyed the information to Raymond Sock, following his appointment as acting-Chief Justice, as the secretary to the Judicial Service Commission.

“I convey this information to Sock through a letter, and I am the custodian of that letter as the Judicial Secretary and Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission,” Belford continued.

Asked by the state counsel, Lejunju Vitalise, whether if shown theSock’s appointment letter would he be able to recognize it, the witness responded in the affirmative.

“I have certified the true copy of the letter; and the original is with me, and I can produce it,” he said.

The witness produced the appointment letter of Justice Raymond Sock, and the prosecution applied to tender it in evidence as an exhibit, and there was no objection from the defence.

It was admitted by the court, and marked as an exhibit.

He adduced further that Justice Agamang was appointed by the Executive, and he (Belford) was copied with the appointment letter of Justice Agamang, as a Judicial Secretary and Secretary to the Judicial Service Commission.

“I have the appointment letter of Justice Agamang as acting-Chief Justice,” he said.

The prosecution applied to tender the appointment letter of Justice Agamang, and there was no objection from the defence.

Belford added that whenever a chief justice leaves, the Executive appoints someone, and that when Justice Emmanuel Agim left, Raymond Sock was appointed as the acting-Chief Justice.

Justice Wowo was then the President of the Gambia Court of Appeal, and was not at the Supreme Court, he added.

He said Justice Agim left an inventory which was itemised and he could recognise it by his own signature, and the prosecuting counsel applied to tender the inventory made by Justice Emmanuel Agim.

“There was an official SIM card for Justice Agim, which was later handed over to Wowo, and after a couple of days when I called the mobile to check, Justice Wowo answered me and I told him this mobile should not be used because it is for the Chief Justice. I was insisting that a substantive Chief Justice should be using that,” he told the court.

Under cross-examination by Justice Wowo, Belford said after the departure of Justice Agim and according to the consultation held, it was for Wowo to oversee the Judiciary until Justice Agim returned.

Justice Agim was the Chief Justice as at the time of handing over, and was the outgoing Chief Justice and the chairman of the Judicial Service Commission before he resigned.

He added that Agim signed as the outgoing Chief Justice, and that he witnessed the handing over.

The case continues today.