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More testimony in Njogu Bah and Co trial

Aug 29, 2013, 10:29 AM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

Detective Inspector Abdoulie Sowe of the Gambia Police Force yesterday testified in the trial involving former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh, former Solicitor General and Legal Secretary Pa Harry Jammeh, and ex-Secretary General and Head of Civil Service Dr Njoju I. Bah.

The three were arraigned before Justice Emmanuel Nkea of the Special Criminal Court, under a three-count charge which includes conspiracy to carry out a lawful purpose by unlawful means, giving false information to a public officer, and abuse of office, charges they denied.

Detective Sowe told the court that he recognised both the 2nd accused and 3rd accused persons.

“In May and June 2013, I was part of the panel that comprised NIA, NDEA and GPF, and during the course of the investigation, the issue of the ex-acting Chief Justice, Joseph Wowo, was brought before the panel regarding his dismissal,” the police detective said.

The 2nd and the 3rd accused persons were asked about their role and involvement in the dismissal of Wowo, the then acting Chief Justice, he said.

Having explained to the panel their role and involvement in the dismissal of Wowo, then a confrontation was done between them, he continued.

“I can remember that I was instructed by ASP Lamin Cham to obtain statements from the 2nd and 3rd accused person, Pa Harry Jammeh and Dr Njogu Bah respectively.

“I obtained both cautionary and voluntary statements from the 2nd accused person and before obtaining the statements, I read over the cautionary wording to him in the presence of the independent witness, one Basiru Drammeh,” detective Sowe stated.

Pa Harry Jammeh accepted to give a statement, he stated, adding that he introduced an independent witness and asked him whether he chose to write, or if he could record it for him.

He said Pa Harry Jammeh chose to write his own statement, which he (Jammeh) signed, he counter-signed and the independent witness also signed.

At that juncture, he went on, a charge sheet was draft against him, and he denied the charges.

Detective Sowe further said on 16 June 2013, while at the panel, ASP Lamin Cham instructed him to obtain a statement from Dr Njogu Bah.

“I read the cautionary wording to him, and Njogu Bah accepted to give a statement. I asked him whether I can write for him, but he chose to write his own statement. I introduced the independent witness to him, one Basiru Drammeh”.

The state counsel then applied to tender the statements of the 2nd and 3rd accused persons.

The defence counsel, L.K. Mobge, raised an objection asserting that they were not the original statements, and that no proper foundation was laid.

The state counsel then withdraw the cautionary statement of the 3rd accused person, Njogu Bah, which was granted.

The cautionary and the voluntary statements of the 2nd accused person were admitted in evidence, and marked as exhibits.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel E. Jah, the witness adduced that while obtaining the statements from the 2nd accused he posed questions to the 2nd accused person in the presence of the independent witness.

The statements were recorded at the panel based at the NIA, and the independent witness was brought by one of the panel members, he said.

“I did not know whether the said independent witness was frequently used as an independent witness,” detective Sowe stated, adding that during the course of the investigation the 2nd accused person denied any wrong doing.

“I can remember that the panel compiled a case file but I cannot remember whether there was a report,” he also told the court.

Designated as the second prosecution witness (PW2), detective Sowe stated that the 2nd accused denied any wrongdoing.

Joseph Wowo told the panel that he was appointed as the acting-Chief Justice by the outgoing Chief Justice, Justice Agim, and they were made to understand that the outgoing Chief Justice had that mandate, Sowe said.

“I did not find out from the Office of the President. We made findings from the members of the Judicial Service Commission, who confirmed that they were aware,” he adduced.

A member of the Judicial Service Commission also told them that the then Attorney General, Jobarteh, told him that Wowo was appointed by the out-going Chief Justice.

However, defence counsel L.S. Camara objected to that piece of evidence on the grounds that it was hearsay evidence, but he was overruled by the trial judge.

The case continues today.