Gambia’s former Minister of Petroleum, Sira Wally Ndow-Njai has filed another application for bail before Justice E O Ottaba, the vacation judge at the High Court in Banjul.

This is Madam Njai’s third bail application at the High Court and is premised on urgency and the ill-health condition of the applicant among other facts as cited in the originating summons filed before the court.

Immediately after the case was mentioned and parties announced their representation, the applicant’s defence counsel Ida Drammeh made her submission on behalf of her client. She indicated that the application came by way of originating summons seeking for the court to make orders in favor of granting bail to the applicant. The application was made with a 27-paragraph affidavit in support.

She submitted that the application is brought pursuant to Section 37 of the 1997 Constitution which, she said deals with the enforcement of protective provisions. She also made reference to Sections 4 and 5 of the same Constitution.

According to her, there is no power given by any law that allows for the brining of a charge of economic crime before Magistrates’ Court and for an order of indefinite remand or detention to be made by a Magistrate on a charge of economic crime, saying the competent court to hear economic crime charges is the High Court.

She submitted that the procedure adopted by the prosecution in the substantive case is completely against the Constitution, adding that it is everyone’s duty by virtue of obligation to defend the Constitution. She again cited Section 6 of the Constitution to back her statement.

Defence counsel Drammeh maintained that nothing has been brought in the affidavit in opposition filed by the state against any order that the applicant is seeking through the originating summons. She said the court should make the orders sought in the originating summons considering that the affidavit in opposition did not oppose granting of those orders.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) S H Barkun in his submission said they are opposed to the application. He said they had filed a 4-paragraph affidavit in opposition and they rely on all those paragraphs and in particular, paragraph 3.

DPP Barkun responded to the issues cited in the originating summons one after the other. On the issue of urgency, he submitted that it is not an urgent matter and that the health of the applicant does not in any way qualify the urgency as indicated in the application.

He cited Section 208 (A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, saying the detention of the applicant is legal contrary to the claim in the originating summons. He said there is nothing unconstitutional in what was done at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

He added that the application is intended to waste the court’s time and the prosecution as there is no merit in the prayers in the application. He said nothing is also mentioned in the affidavit in support to convince the court to grant the bail application.

Madam Ndow-Njai was denied bail twice at the High Court. She was denied bail alongside Nuha Touray, the former Secretary to Cabinet and Momodou O.S. Badjie, the former Managing Director of The Gambia National Petroleum Corporation.

by Fatou Sowe