Sep 23, 2010, 2:29 PM
A 27-count charge was yesterday preferred against former NDEA Executive Director, Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, and four others at the High Court in Banjul, before Justice Emmanuel Amadi, following the state prosecutors' amendment of the charges.
The other accused persons are ex-Deputy Director, Karamo Bojang, ex-Director of Operations, Ousman Sanneh, Marie Sanneh and Seedou Bojang.
The accused persons, who all maintained their innocence, are now facing a 27-count charge. These range from conspiracy to commit felony, stealing by person in public service, aiding and abetting, unlawfully possession of fire arm, unlawfully possession of live ammunitions, concealment and destroying of evidence, official corruption, to abuse of office and committing economic crimes.
After plea-taking, DPP Richard Chenge applied for a date to commence hearing of the case, and also for the 5th accused, Seedou Bojang, to secure legal representation.
Defence counsel, Pap Cheyassan Secka, who represents the 4th accused, Marie Sanneh, intimated that the defence needs time to take further instructions from their clients with respect to the new amendments.
Lawyer Kebba Sanyang, representing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd accused persons told the court that the defence had made certain applications before the court and that, with the court's permission, he would like to move the motion.
Defence counsel Sanyang submitted that the motion that was filed was dated 3rd May 2010, and seeks that the court grants the accused persons bail, pending the determination of the case. He submitted that the motion was supported by a 16-paragraph affidavit, and that they were relying on all the paragraphs.
Defence counsel Sanyang further submitted that going by the affidavit, it is clear from the paragraphs that the accused persons have been in custody since their arrest. He said in paragraph (7) it is clear from the affidavit, which is the basis of the application, that the offences for which the accused persons are charged are bailable.
According to the defence counsel, the investigation into the case was completed, and that was why there is a substantive charge before the court. He also referred the court to paragraph (9) of the affidavit, which, according to him, stated that the accused persons are all responsible Gambians.
He added that this was further supported by paragraph (11), which states that the accused persons will appear in court whenever the need arises.
Counsel Sanyang further adduced that the court has the power to grant the application, and then submitted that the motion in opposition, as filed by the prosecution, "did not deny paragraph (7) of the applicants that the offence is bailable."
Defence Counsel adduced that the motion in opposition, as filed by the prosecution, "did not also deny paragraph (6) of the applicants that the accused persons were in detention since their arrest."
The counsel then cited Section 99 of the CPC to back his submission, and then cited Section 19 of the constitution to further support his submission.
"The accused persons, in my submission, did not commit the offence that takes them out of the ambit of Section 99 of the CPC," counsel Sanyang further submitted.
Defence counsel PC Secka also submitted that the application for bail in respect of the 4th accused was dated 7th May 2010, and filed on the same day. He said the affidavit was supported by 11 paragraphs, and that they are relying on all the paragraphs.
PC Secka then submitted that, if in an eleven-paragraph affidavit only paragraph (9) and (10) are being contested, then the rest of the paragraphs are true. He drew the attention of the court to paragraph (7) of the applicant’s affidavit, urging the court to grant his client bail.
In response to the defence submission, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard N. Chenge, said, "we very strongly object to the application made by the defence team."
"To buttress our objection, we have filed two affidavits in opposition," he added, noting that each affidavit contains four paragraphs, and that they rely on all the paragraphs. DPP Chenge further submitted that Section 19 of the constitution is not absolute, and then submitted that if the accused persons were released on bail they would tamper with the prosecution witnesses.
He said the offences under which the accused persons are charged are felonious, which means, he added, that they are very serious offences. DPP Chenge further adduced that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th accused persons were influential officers at the NDEA.
The DPP told the court that based on the evidence the prosecution has, which is very strong, "if the accused persons are released on bail they would escape from the country." He, therefore, urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the prosecution, and to remand the accused persons.
He cited law authorities to back his submission.
The case was then adjourned to 13th May 2010 for continuation.