The Director of Public Prosecution (DDP) S H Barkun yesterday informed the High Court in Banjul that the state had taken a decision to drop all charges against Edirisa Mass Jobe, the 4th accused person in the criminal trial involving the state against Sira Wally Ndow-Njai and 9 others.
DPP Barkun’s information was contained in an amended bill of indictment he filed before Justice O Ottaba in which Jobe did not reflect as one of the accused persons. Now there are nine accused persons in the case instead of 10 prior to the amendment.
Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou OS Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Muntaga Momodou Sallah, Momodou Taal, Seedy Kanyi, Noah Touray, Louise Moses Mendy and Cherno Marena are charged with offences ranging from conspiracy to commit a felony, economic crimes, neglect of official duty, disobedience of statutory duty and destroying evidence.
The DPP in his submission said the state had filed an amended charge which now listed 9 accused persons instead of the previous 10, saying they now intend to prosecute the rest of the accused persons on the amended indictment.
Jobe’s defence Lawyer Ida Drammeh applied for the charges to be dismissed and for the court to make a specific order for the entire obligation in the bail bond to end. She also applied for documents to be released to her client in question since there is no charge pending against him.
Justice Ottaba granted the applications and ordered for the principal registrar to release Jobe’s documents and all obligations in the bail bond and accordingly discharged him.
The DPP then applied for the amended charges to be read to the nine accused persons for them to take their pleas but Lawyer Drammeh said she was served with the amended indictment in court and her client did not receive instruction in terms of taking her plea. She asked for 5 minutes to speak to DPP which was granted by the judge.
After few minutes’ talk with the DPP outside the court room, DPP told the court that with consensus from Lawyer Drammeh, the case could proceed with plea taking. Promptly Lawyer H Sisay-Sabally rose and said she was served with the amended indictment at 12:55 which, she claimed consists of 8 counts while the previous indictment was 3 counts. She said her client is not ready to take his plea and therefore applied for a further date.
Lawyer Sisay-Sabally added that the list of exhibits is attached to the indictment but the exhibits are not attached, saying for her client to take his plea those documents should be provided, urging the court to make an order to that effect.
In his response to the submission, DPP Barkun said they are very much aware of the court’s order but the law did not say that the prosecution should serve it with the indictment. He said the accused persons should be informed of the charges first and the prosecution will serve the defence with the documents. “The charges have no independent meaning and this is not a new situation. An adjournment in this matter will only cause delay and if the court allows us we are ready to proceed with our witnesses. The fact that we have new charges does not constitute new circumstance that warrants adjournment,” the DPP said.
Lawyer Sisay-Sabally maintained that her client Cherno Marena is charged before the court just because he was a board member of the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and they have witnessed the chairman of the board being discharged and charges dropped against him. “I don’t come to court to delay proceedings. I am here to defend my client to the best of my ability,” she added. Lawyer Sisay-Sabally’s submissions was backed by the rest of the defence counsels.
Justice Otaba said in his ruling said the fact that there an amended indictment it is in the interest of justice that the defence be given time to consult with their clients.
He then adjourned the case to Monday, 24th October, 2016 at 2pm.
In the amended indictment on count one, the prosecution alleged Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Seedy Kanyi and Muntaga Momodou Sallah sometime in 2015 in Banjul and other diverse places while serving in your various capacities as public officers by willful act or omission cause economic loss to the government of the Gambia to the tune of seven million and sixty nine thousand, eight hundred and eighty ($7, 069, 88.70) and equivalent to three hundred and twenty nine million four hundred fifty six thousand, four hundred forty one Dalasi (D329, 456, 441.00) by causing the Government of the Gambia to make payment to March Trading which acts is injurious, detrimental and damaging to the economy of the Gambia.
On count two it is alleged that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, Momodou Taal, Muntaga Momodou Sallah and Louie Moses Mendy in the same year and place while serving in their various capacities as public officers by willful act or omission caused economic loss to the Government of the Gambia to the tune of three million, six hundred and ten thousand, six hundred and fifty six Dalasi ( D3, 610, 656.00) being monies expended for air tickets and perdiem on due diligence mission to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (the purpose for which was not fulfilled) and signing or causing a contract to be signed with March Trading which act is injurious, detrimental, and damaging to the economy of the Gambia.
The prosecution further alleged on count three that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena, in the same year and places while serving in their various capacities as public officers conspired amongst themselves to commit a felony to wit: by willful act or omission cause economic loss to the government of the Gambia.
Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena are further alleged to have in the same year and places while serving in their various capacity as public officers and whilst on due diligence mission to Dubai United Arab Emirates on the competence and capacity of March Trading to supply fuel to the government of the Gambia, willfully neglected to execute such mission in accordance with the Gambia Public Procurement Act.
Count five alleges that Sira Wally Ndow-Njai, Momodou O.S Badjie, Fafa Sanyang, Cherno Marena in the same year and places while serving in their various capacity as public officers and whilst on due diligence mission to Dubai United Arab Emirates on the competence and capacity of March Trading to supply fuel to the Government of the Gambia, willfully omitted to comply with requirements of GPPA.
Momodou O.S Badjie is alleged on count six and seven that in the same year and places while serving as the Managing Director of the Gambia National Petroleum Company (GNPC) willfully neglected to advertise the pre-qualification bidding process for the contract of supply of petroleum to the GNPC as required and in accordance with the Gambia Public Procurement Act.
On count eight Noah Touray is alleged to have in the same year and place while serving as secretary to cabinet in the office of the president, knowing that a file pertaining to the contract with GNPC and March Petroleum could be used in Judicial Proceedings against Sira Wally Now-Njai as evidence in court, willfully removed and destroyed the said file.
by Fatou Sowe