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More testimony in Wowo and Jobarteh trial

Nov 27, 2013, 9:30 AM | Article By: Malamin L.M. Conteh

More testimony continued to be heard in the trial 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 under a thirteen-count indictment which included abuse of office, conspiracy to defeat Justice  and interference with witnesses, offences relating to Judicial proceeding, to giving false informing to a public officer, which both men denied.

Yesterday’s proceedings witnessed the testimony of the eight prosecution witness (PW8), Mariama Ceesay, Principal Registrar at the High Court, who told the court that she is a civil servant and has been the Principal Registrar of the High Court for three years.

She adduced that the report written by the 1st accused person, Wowo, to the NIA, was in respect of the request made by Amie Bensouda, concerning data on land cases in the courts.

The clerk in Bensouda’s chambers went to her and told her that Bensouda wanted the cases concerning land matters, and she referred him to Muhammed Camara, a clerk at the central registry, the witness told the court.

“The following day, I asked Muhammed Camara whether they started collecting the information requested by counsel, and Camara replied in the positive. I then asked them to halt the collection and to destroy all what they have collected,” the High Court registrar said.

Mariama Ceesay further adduced that Bensouda went to her office, concerning the said information, but she referred her to the then acting Master of the High Court, Buba Jawo.

 After Bensouda left for 15 minutes her office, she continued, she was called by the then acting Chief Justice, Wowo, concerning the said issue.

“I was asked by the 1st accused that certain counsel needed certain information. I then told the 1st accused that I referred Bensouda to the acting Master. The 1st accused asked me to call the acting Master, which I did, and he asked the acting Master about the said information, concerning which the acting Master answered in the positive,” she stated.

 The acting Master told the 1st accused that he had directed Bensouda to him, Wowo, and this was in the office of the acting CJ, she said, adding that the 1st accused told Ms Anna Njie to put her request in writing and address it to him, Wowo, since he was the acting CJ.

PW8 further told the court that, on the following Tuesday, when she reported to work in her office, one man came and told her that she was needed at the NIA for questioning.

“From there, we were taken to police headquarters. I, Buba Jawo, Muhammed Camara and Jarreh Manneh, and our statements were obtained and we were detained until our sureties came, and we were later granted bail,” she continued.

It was at the police station, she went on, that they were informed about the reason for their arrest, after which they were released on bail.

“I later received a letter dated 3 December 2012, requesting for explanation and the letter was signed by John Belford, the Judicial Secretary, asking for explanation for giving information without the notice of the administration,” she continued.

 Asked whether if she saw the said letter which was requesting for an explanation, and whether she would be able to recognize it, she answered in the affirmative.

The said letter was shown to her, which she recognised, and the state counsel then applied to tender it in evidence as an exhibit, and it was admitted as an exhibit without any objection from the defence.

“I also replied to the letter, and if I see this reply I will be able to recognize it.” Her reply was shown to her, which she identified.

 The prosecution again applied to tender the reply in evidence as an exhibit, and it was admitted without any objection from the defence.

“I also received a letter posting me at Brikama High Court and if I see this letter of posting, I will be able to identify it,” she added.

The posting letter was shown to her, which she identified and the prosecutor applied to tender the said posting letter in evidence as an exhibit, and it was admitted without any objection from the defence.

“When I received the letter of posting, I went to the Judicial Secretary because it has never happened in the history of the judicial to transfer the principal registrar to another court without reason. When I asked Belford about my posting, he told me he was instructed by the acting CJ,” she further narrated.

“I told Belford that I am not going, because it has never happened and they should talk to the 1st accused. Mr Belford together with the then acting Master, Buba Jawo, Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and the Principal Registrar of the Court of Appeal, went to the 1st accused person’s office, and from there I was called to Belford’s office where I met the four of them,” she continued.

“There, I was told that the acting CJ said he had no problem with me. My posting will be rescinded only if I changed paragraph two of my replY.

“After that meeting, I wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice because the Attorney General is the state’s chief legal adviser and the Solicitor General is a member of the Judicial Service Commission,” Mariama Ceesay told the court.

The letter was about her posting, and if she saw the letter she would be able to identify it by her signature, she further stated.

 The prosecutor then applied to tender the letter written by PW8 to the Ministry of Justice, and the letter was admitted in evidence as an exhibit without any objection from the defence.

She added that her posting was later rescinded and if she saw the rescinding letter of posting, she would be able to identify it. It was shown to her, which she identified.

 The case continues today.