Acting Principal Magistrate Kebba Baldeh of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court Tuesday ordered the prosecution in the going trial against thirty former government officials to obtain a fiat (authoritative decision that has absolute sanction) from the Attorney General to proceed with their case.
The decision of the trial magistrate came after the police prosecutor Inspector S Sanyang applied under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code to amend and substitute the previous charges.
He said the prosecution wanted to allow some of the accused persons who didn’t take their pleas to do so since others had already taken their pleas and were granted bail.
Lawyer OMM Njie, defence counsel for the 4th and 5th accused persons said Inspector Sanyang’s application could only be relevant under Section 169 (1)(b) if the charges are defective.
He argued that the accused persons are charged under Section 113 and 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code and they have not been told how the previous charges were defective as stated in Section 169 (1) and the defendants list has been increased.
E Sanneh, counsel for the 2nd, 10th, 12th, 16th, 23rd, 25th, 29th and 30th accused persons, also argued that Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code allows for the amendment of charge sheets while Section 169 states that for such amendment to hold there must be material difference between the charges filed on 30th August 2016 and the one that was filed on 18th October 2016.
He said the prosecution’s application under Section 169 is severely misconceived and at the last adjourned date the court had noted for the state to regularise the charge sheet by securing the fiat of the Attorney General to prosecute the matter.
Defence counsel Sanneh said at the moment there is no competent charge on the accused persons since the fiat is not yet obtained, saying it is therefore premature to ask the accused persons to enter their pleas. He added that the state’s failure to proceed with the case severely violates the accused persons’ constitutional right under Section 24.
Replying on point of law, Prosecutor Sanyang cited Section 169, saying his application will not do any injustice to the accused persons and urged the court to uphold his application.
The presiding magistrate in his ruling said the court holds that plea cannot be taken with the fiat and that the prosecution is urged to obtain the fiat of the AG to proceed, the absence of which he said the case cannot proceed.
Prosecution indicted Abdoulie Jallow, Aussainou Jobarteh, Dr Cherno Omar Barry, Abdoulie KM Jallow, Abdoulie Jallow, Lamin Camara, Lamin Sanneh, Tijan Jeng, Jerreh Sanyang, Malang Jammeh, Momodou Lamin Jammeh, Lamin Sisey, Masaikou M. Marong, John Belford, Yaya Drammeh, Ebrima Sanneh, Sambou Nget, Kebba Faal, Nfamara Dampha, Lamin Mai Touray, Lamin Juwara, Saikou Sidibeh, Siaka Saidyleigh, Momodou C Joof, Alieu Jammeh, Abdoulie M Cham, Morro Krubally, Kantong Jallow, Buba Sanyang and Kebba S. Touray, of neglecting their duties as minister, permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries, directors, chief drivers and drivers of their various Government Ministries and Departments to engage the services of a qualified mechanics/engineers to assess and diagnose the conditions of vehicles under their purview, thus leading to wrong identification of vehicles for auction between the year 2014 and 2016 in Banjul and diverse places.
They are also accused of abusing their offices by identifying government vehicles for auction, No New Voters’ Card Issued after Supplementary Voter Registration
- IEC knowing that they have no expertise or knowledge to do that leading to their identification of wrong vehicles for auction.
by Lama S Jallow