The vacation judge at the High Court in Banjul yesterday dismissed the bail application filed by Momodou SO Badjie, the former Managing Director of Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, saying it lacked sufficient and credible evidence.
Justice Ogar Edward Eneji’s decision was contained in a ruling he delivered on Badjie’s bail application which was filed by his defence counsel, Lawyer LS Camara and responded to by State Counsel A Mendy.
Justifying his objection to the bail application, the state counsel said there is an ongoing state investigations into the matter.
He had reviewed the contents of the bail application, accompanied with supporting affidavits from both the applicants and the respondent state counsel before he announced failure of the bail application.
According to Justice Ogar, by order of an originating summon, dated 10th August 2016, the applicant filed bail application in court on grounds that the offence charged is bailable and urged the court to grant it pending the trial.
He said in the bail application, the applicant sought among others that they be granted bail with or without condition, saying the application was supported by 34-paragraph affidavit sworn to by one Kebba Sanneh.
He said the state respondent objected to the application with a four-paragraph affidavit, sworn to by one Mariama Jallow, a legal clerk at the Attorney General’s Chamber.
He said the respondent premised his objection on the grounds that the matter is still under investigation and that the accused is an influential person who once granted bail may interfere with witnesses in the case.
The judge maintained that the applicant contended that there is no formal charge against him at the High Court instead he is charged at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court and the same charge was transferred to the High Court, therefore there is no bill of indictment before the accused person at the High Court.
He added that the applicant also said failure of the previous bail application made it necessary for them to file this bail application. He made reference to various legal provisions cited by the applicant, such as Section 19 and 24 of the Constitution, Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 8 of the Economic Crime (Specified Offences Act).
The judge acknowledged the legal provision on presumption of innocence of an accused person until proven guilty as established in DPP Versus Woolmington, which he said Section 19 of the Constitution of The Gambia affirmed.
Justice Ogar however raised issues with such decisions made by the High Court and whether the said High Court can review its own decision or can sit on its own appeal case as the bail application before the court was the same as the one decided by Justice Otaba of the same court.
According to the judge, the only alternative for the applicant is to either apply for review of the previous High Court decision made by the cited judge or appeal against it at the Gambia Court of Appeal but the said High Court cannot review its own decision and cannot sit on its own appeal case.
by Sanna Jawara