Aug 26, 2009, 6:51 AM
State prosecutors yesterday began the trial of the former Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service and Minister of presidential affairs, former Attorney General and minister of Justice, and former Solicitor General and Legal Secretary.
Prosecutors called their first witness, one Musa Jarju, a police officer attached to the police Interpol unit at Police headquarters in Banjul.
The accused persons Dr Njogu L Bah, Lamin Jobarteh and Pa Harry Jammeh respectively, are being tried on a three-count charge which includes conspiracy to carry out a lawful purpose by an unlawful means, giving false information to a public officer, and abuse of office, charges they have denied.
Among the charges are that they conspired to remove Justice Joseph Wowo, a sitting judge of the Court of Appeal of The Gambia by unlawful means, by orchestrating his arrest, detention and mock trial.
Testifying before Justice Emmanuel Nkea, the first prosecution witness told the court that he recognized the accused persons, and was commanded by ASP Lamin Cham to obtain both cautionary and voluntary statements from the 1st accused, Lamin Jobarteh.
He said he did so by reading the cautionary wording to Jobarteh and the name of Jobareh was inserted into the sheet of the cautionary statement, but Jobarteh decided to write his own statement in the presence of an independent witness, one Basiru Drammeh.
Jarju disclosed that he signed and the independent witness signed the statement, adding that after the recording of the cautionary statement, he also recorded the voluntary statement from Jobarteh.
He pointed out that he could not remember whether the two statements were recorded on the same date, adding that after filling the form, a charge was preferred against Jobarteh based on the facts of the cautionary statement, and he denied the charge.
Jarju said he signed, the accused signed and the independent witness also signed the statement.
The witness identified the said statements in court and the state counsel applied to have them as exhibits, and the defence counsel, L.S. Camara, did not raised any objection to the tendering of the statements.
The said statements were accordingly admitted in evidence as exhibits.
Under Cross-examination by the defence counsel, the witness told the court that he did not know how long the 1st accused spent in custody before the cautionary statement was obtained from him.
He said he came to know the 1st accused person in May 2013, but he could not remember the exact date.
“I obtained the cautionary statement from him the day I first met him. I did not grant the request made by the 1st accused to meet his lawyer before obtaining a statement from him, because I was not instructed to do so,” officer Jarju said.
He insisted that he had endorsed the statement, but did not endorse it at the end of each leaf.
The case at that juncture was adjourned to 28th August 2013, and the court ordered the state counsel to furnish the defence with all the necessary documents.
Lamin AMS Jobarteh, Pa Harry Jammeh, and Dr Njogu L Bah, are accused on count one that between January and February 2013, in the Banjul City Council, within the jurisdiction of the court, they conspired among themselves to remove Justice Wowo, a sitting Judge of the Court of Appeal of The Gambia by an lawful means, to wit, orchestrating his arrest, detention and mock trial, and thereby committed an offence.
On count two, prosecutors accuse Lamin AMS Jobarteh, Pa Harry Jammeh, and Dr Njogu L Bah, that in January 2013, in the Banjul City Council, within the jurisdiction of the court, with intent to cause the termination of the service of Justice Wowo, fed John Belford (in his capacity as the Judicial Secretary of The Gambia) and the members of the Judicial Service Commission of The Gambia with information to the effect that his Excellency, the President of The Gambia had directed the termination of the appointment of Justice Wowo, knowing the information to be false and thereby committed an offence.
Lamin AMS Jobarteh, Pa Harry Jammeh, and Dr Njogu L Bah, are further accused on count three that between January and February 2013, in the Banjul City Council, within the jurisdiction of the court, whilst in their offices as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia, and Solicitor General of The Gambia, and Secretary General and Head of Civil Service of The Gambia, respectively, abused the authority of their respective offices, by arbitrarily causing the arrest detention, and termination of the appointment of Justice Wowo, and thereby committed an offence.