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Njogu Bah opens defence in ‘abuse of office’ trial

Dec 10, 2014, 10:05 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The former Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr Njogu Lamin Bah, yesterday opened his defence in his ‘abuse of office’ trial at the Banjul Magistrates Court before Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow.

In his evidence-in-chief, Bah told the court he resides in Busumballa village in the West Coast Region and is currently serving a two-year jail term at the Mile 2 State Central Prisons.

Before his arrest, he was Minister of Petroleum and, prior to that, he was the secretary general, head of the civil service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, he told the court.

He acquired a PhD in public administration at Rockville University in the United States of America in 2004, and later worked as a manager part-timer when he was studying in the United States of America.

Prior to that, he obtained a degree in Logistics at the University of Morocco.

Dr. Bah returned to The Gambia in May 2005, when the President visited the United States; by then he was the chairman of the APRC Atlanta Chapter.

He represented the Gambian community in the USA at a meeting held in the USA, where the President asked about was his plans, whether he would love to come home to join him in nation-building.

“I responded to him with ‘yes’, that I have a big heart for The Gambia,” and I decided to come home and join him in nation-building,” Bah further told the court.

The President promised his office would communicate with him, after he returns to The Gambia.

After three months, he received a letter from one Marcel Thomasi, then Director of Press, reminding him of the conversation he had with the President during Jammeh’s visit to the US.

Dr Bah subsequently returned to The Gambia, and a few days later went to the Personnel Management Office (PMO) and was received by the permanent secretary Yusupha Dibba. He attended an interview with the Public Service Commission.

“I received my appointment letter from PMO as senior assistant secretary, and I was posted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Njogu Bah added.

He worked for only three months, and was transferred to the Office of the President with the same position.

Through his hard work, dedication and sacrifice, he was recognised by the President and was promoted to principal assistant secretary, Njogu Bah told the court.

He was later promoted as deputy permanent secretary, permanent secretary number two and permanent secretary number one and then as secretary to Cabinet.

He was also promoted as secretary general and head of the civil service on four occasions.

At some point, he was the Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, he said, adding that he also served as Minister of Information and Technology, and as Minister of Presidential Affairs for a brief period.

Asked by his counsel to tell the court why he was able to serve in all these positions within three years, Njogu Bah said it was because the President trusted him, hence he let him serve in all these positions.

Further asked by the counsel whether he had abused his office as alleged in the charge sheet, Njogu Bah told the court that he had never abused his office as secretary general; that instead his office abused him.

“I have spent all my time at work, and I had not much time for my family. I did not have Saturdays neither Sundays because the President has a big heart for the country so we needed to support him,” he said.

For that reason, he deprived himself the quality time he should have had with his family and friends, and spent it on nation-building, he went on.

Asked about influencing the appointment of Jainaba Jobarteh, as charged, Bah said when he was confronted with the allegation at the NIA, he denied it and also denied it in court.

Asked by his counsel why he said he denied the allegation 100 per cent, Bah told the court that it had never been the case; which was why he denied it 100 per cent.

The case was adjourned to 17 December 2014, for continuation of the hearing.