Bun Sanneh & co guilty
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Justice Emmanuel Nkea of the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, Wednesday 16th May, 2012 convicted and sentenced Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, the former executive director of the NDEA, Karamo Bojang, ex-deputy director,Ousman Sanneh, ex-finance director, Marie Sanneh and Seedou Bojang to various terms of imprisonment after they were found guilty of criminal offences contrary to the Laws of The Gambia.
Delivering judgment in a crowded court room, the presiding judge stated thatin an indictment filed by the then DPP Richard Chenge on the 13th May 2010, the accused persons, Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, Karamo Bojang, Ousman Sanneh, Marie Sanneh and Seedou Bojang were charged with 30 counts of criminal offences contrary to the Laws of The Gambia. The offences were alleged to have been committed between January 2005 and 23rd April 2010.
The presiding judge gave a rundown of each of the counts the accused persons are charged, ranging from conspiracy to commit felony to abuse of office, official corruption, stealing, aiding and abetting and economic crimes, amongst others. Justice Nkea indicated that in some of the counts, some of the accused persons are jointly charged, adding that the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial commenced on the 13th May 2010.
Justice Nkea disclosed that the prosecution called 17 witnesses and tendered a host of exhibits in support of its case against the accused persons, whilst the accused persons testified in their defence and also tendered exhibits. The judge gave a narration of both the prosecution witnesses’ evidence and the defence witnesses’ evidence, adding that the ex-IGP, Ensa Badjie also testified on behalf of the defence and raised an issue relating to some NIA operatives like Alhaji Morr Jobe, Lamin Darboe, Omar Cham and others. He asserted that at the close of the defence, both sides addressed the court.
Justice Nkea, while commending the draughtman of the charges, noted that some of the charges were superfluous and bloated with duplicity. The judge then struck out count 14 and 15 on the bail of the indictment. The presiding judge disclosed that there were copious and compelling evidence against the accused persons on the commission of offence they are charged.
He cited the case of the 1st and 5th accused persons using the NDEA truck on transportation, the 2nd accused dealings with Ousman Jatta and others misappropriation of funds, the cannabis sativa which was a subject of a dispute which led to the arraignment of some NDEA officials, but were later discharged, noting that there were overwhelming evidence that drugs at the Banjul Magistrates Court were allegedly tempered with.
He further noted that the NDEA is a corporate body of the government, adding that any transaction made by NDEA is conducted for the government. He revealed that the evidence of the first prosecution witness, Samba on the handcuffs, indicated that handcuffs were never supplied to the NDEa, despite the fact that the 1st accused received some money from the first prosecution witness.
Justice Nkea said that it was clear that the 4th accused, Marie Sanneh was given D150,000 for plea bargain in the matter of the Jatta family, which was also a subject matter. Justice Nkea noted that the 4th accused did not refund the money she took from the NDEA up to date. He disclosed that the prosecution has proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt and therefore found the accused persons guilty of the offences charged. The judge however, discharged all the accused persons on count one.
Kebba Sanyang, defence counsel for the 1st, and 2nd and 3rd accused persons told the court that his clients have served the country in various capacities adding that they have been in remand since 2010. He urged the court not to impose custodial sentence, but to exercise it discretion to impose fine on them instead, citing Section 29 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 266 of the CPC.
On his part, defence counsel LK Mboge also referred the court to the provisions of Section 29 (2) of the CPC and Section 266 of the CPC urged the court not toimpose custodial sentence on the 5th accused person, Seedou Bojang.
The 4th accused, Marie Sanneh who was represented by the Late Lawyer Cheyssn O.Secka made her own plea of mitigation. She begged the court to temper justice with mercy, adding that she has four school going children and a 70-year-old father and she was the sole care giver of her family.
In passing sentence, Justice Emmanuel Nkea disclosed that having carefully considered the circumstances surrounding the case, the ages of the convicts, the additional mitigating factor of the 4th convict who is the sole care giver to her four kids and 70-year-old father and having listened to the very touching plea for leniency moved by the respective counsels on behalf of the convicts, they are strong reasons for him to temper justice with mercy.
He pointed out that although the various sections of the law imposes a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for the various offences commitment, he had found it fit and proper to sentence the convicts accordingly.
Ibrahim Bun Sanneh, the 1st convict was sentenced to serve two years imprisonment on count eleven, another two years imprisonment on count eleven, another two years imprisonment on count 5, five years imprisonment on count sixteen, five years imprisonment on count seventeen, five years imprisonment on count eighteen, and five years imprisonment on count two.
Karamo Bojang, the 2nd convict was sentenced to serve eight years imprisonment on each of the six counts whilst Ousman Sanneh, the 3rd convict was sentenced to eight years imprisonment on each of the two counts he was convicted.
The 4th convict, Marie Sanneh was sentenced to a fine of D100,000 each on three counts in default to serve five years imprisonment on each of the counts. The 5th convict, Seedou Bojang was sentenced to serve 2 years imprisonmenton each of the two counts, five years imprisonemtn on each of the four counts and eight years imprisonment on one count.
The presiding judge, Justice Emmanuel Nkea however ordered that all the sentences of all the convicts run concurrently.
Author: Sidiq Asemota