Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Court to Face Demand to Free GAMCOTRAP Officials

A team of four defense lawyers led by Amie Bensouda will make recommendation to the court to free the two Gamcotrap officials accused of stealing.  
Dr Isatou Touray, executive director and Amie Bojang Sissoho, programme coordinator of GAMCOTRAP are accused of stealing €30, 000.00 provided to them by YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD, a Spain-based NGO.
Both pleaded innocence.
Eight witnesses have testified for the state. But the lawyers are unconvinced that any of them produced incriminating evidence to link their clients to allegations of the said theft. 
Lawyer Amie Bensouda on Wednesday made it known to the presiding magistrate that she will make a ‘No-Case-to-Answer’ submission.
It followed the announcement by the prosecuting police officer, Superintendent Sainey Joof that the state is satisfied with evidence against the accused persons.
Dr Touray and assistant were arrested in last year and detained at the police station until the following day when they appeared at the Banjul Magistrate Court.
Their first move to secure bail failed and they were further remanded for several days. They were subsequently granted bail on their second appearance.
The two prominent women’s rights activists have over the past two decades carved a niche for themselves, especially in the crusade against harmful traditional practices.

The defense lawyers said they will urge to court to acquit and discharge them, because in their view, the state has failed to produce substantial evidence to warrant the continuation of the trial.  
The trial resumes Friday May 13.

Trader Fatajo Avoids Jail

A Gambian businessman convicted for ‘breach of peace’ has paid the D10, 000 fine imposed on him and avoided going to jail.
Banjul Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday sentenced Mr Karamo Sainey Fatajo to pay a fine of D10, 000 or go to jail for three months.
But Mr Fatajo and an army of family members and sympathysers who went to witness the judgement prefer the former as Mr Fatajo wasted no time to pay the money.
A judicial source said Mr Fatajo’s best friend helped him to pay the fine within an hour. 
In any case, the businessman was full of life when he walked-out of the court a freeman after a four-month long trial, our judicial correspondent says. 
He was escorted to his home by his loved ones.
A family member told The Daily News that the imposition of a fine was a relief for them as  they had wept the previous day when he was declared guilty.
“We were hoping that he will be found innocent because, as far as we are concerned, he committed no crime, but when the magistrate said he was guilty we thought Karamo will be jailed,” the unnamed family member. 
The trader at Albert Market in Banjul was arrested in December 16, 2010, after a trader fellow, Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay told the state authorities that the Mr Fatajo was saying at the market that neighbouring ‘Senegal will attack Gambia.’
His alleged comment came in the wake of a recent thaw-in relations between Senegal and Gambia over the seizure of alleged Gambia-bound arms shipment impounded in Nigeria from UN-sanctioned Iran.
The arms catch renewed Senegal’s long suspicion over Gambia’s arms support to its independence-seeking rebels in Casamance. Gambia reacted by accusing Wade government of smear campaign.     
Although Karamo had denied saying that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia’, the magistrate on Tuesday said enough evidence was produced to find the trader guilty.
At dawn of the trial, some analysts commented that the case is an indication of how much Jammeh regime could go to suppress speech.

Social Security Boss’ Economic Crime Case Struck Out

Acting Principal Magistrate has struck out the criminal case of Mr. Edward Graham, former Managing Director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) accused of economic crime after the state insisted to withdraw the charges.
Mr. Graham, barely few minutes before entering in the dock was facing four charges of economic crimes; for directing the payment of D880, 250.00 without necessary collaterals and on terms detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.
“We are not objecting” said Madam Bensouda, defense for the accused “and I would like to commend the prosecutor for that.”
Mr. Graham was discharged by the Banjul Magistrates’ Court and his bail bond was given back after the defense applied for his discharge.
Until his discharg no witness has given evidence against Mr. Graham before the court since his appearance in court January 6, 2011. He was denied bail and was remanded until January 20 when he appeared in court, but his lawyer was unable to secure him bail as the investigation was still ongoing.
According to count one of the charge sheet, Edward Graham in 2009 at Banjul corruptly abused his office to writ, directed Home Finance Company Ltd to pay the sum of D880,250.00 to Marie Saine Firdaus without the necessary collateral, contrary to section 5 (g) of the Economic Crimes (specified offences) in Decree 1994.

Count two indicates that on or about September 2, 2010 at Banjul within the jurisdiction of the court, being a citizen of The Gambia caused financial loss to SSHFC, a public body by waiving interest on mortgages in breach of the Housing Finance and Development Corporation Act 2010, contrary to section 5 (a) of the Economic Crimes (specified offences) in Decree 1994.

Count three states that Mr. Graham in 2009 being the Managing Director of SSHFC willfully caused loss to Home Finance Company Ltd, a public body by directing it to grant a loan to Marie Saine Firdaus in a manner and on terms detrimental to the economy of The Gambia, contrary to section 5 (a) of the Economic Crimes specified offences in Decree 1994.

Count four added that Marie Saine Firdaus in 2009 at Banjul, being a citizen of The Gambia collaborated with Edward Graham, Managing Director of SSHFC to intentionally and corruptly obtain the sum of D880, 250.00 from Home Finance Company Ltd in a manner and on terms detrimental to the economy of The Gambia, contrary to section 5 (h) of the Economic Crimes specified offences in Decree 1994.

Jabang Village Headman Defends

The headman of Jabang village has told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that he did not give false information to Moses Richards.

Pa Ebrima Colley was continuing testimony on Thursday at Banjul Magistrates’ Court in the sedition and false information trial involving Moses Richards, a defense lawyer.

A former High Court Judge, Moses Richards, is alleged to have written a deceiving letter on behalf of Jabang village to the Sheriff of High Court in Banjul, indicating that Office of the President ordered a stay of execution of a court order to conduct an eviction exercise in the village.

However, the alkalo of Jabang who said it was the sheriff who instructed him to secure the services a lawyer to write a letter, insisted that defended Moses Richard’s actions.

“As a result of writing a letter, your lawyer is now charged before this court with giving false information and sedition. Now I want you to tell magistrate whether you give false information to your lawyer,” a senior defense lawyer, Antouman Gaye quizzed the village head.

And Pa Colley replied: “I stand by the content of the letter because I told him everything that he has written.”

The magistrate at this point intervened and told the defense lawyer that it is left for the court to decide.

 “Don’t you think it is premature to jump into a conclusion?” the magistrate asked counsel Gaye, who insisted that the question was right and that the magistrate’s decision in the end will be based on facts.

 Continuing his evidence, Mr. Colley informed the court that the incident that took place was reported in the newspapers. “Can you recall any particular newspaper?” defence asked.
“Yes,” he said, “It was published in Daily Observer

According to him, he bought a copy of the paper and kept it as it was an unforgettable incident.

The newspaper story headlined: ‘Three arrested at Jabang Village’ on  Monday June 11, 2007 was tendered.
Mr. Colley said Ma Abdou Jammeh, Ousman Senghore and Amadou Colley were some of victims whose properties were damaged in the eviction exercise in 2007. He said they lost their monies too, but cannot remember how much it was.

Under cross-examination, the state counsel asked the witness if the Sheriff was trying to help him when he asked him to secure a lawyer.

 “It is possible that he wanted to help me,” replied the witness.

“And he warned that if you don’t write the letter within three days, there will be execution,” the state counsel asked further. But the village head clarified that the Sheriff did not tell him that he has three days, but rather, it was Pa Harry Jammeh, the solicitor General.

He admitted that the accused person wrote the letter to stop the execution of judgment when the state counsel.
The trial resumes Thursday, April 28.

Retired Civil Servant Testifies in Social Security Boss Theft Case

A retired civil servant, Ruth Sowe who claimed that the former Social Security boss stole the sum of D652, 250.00 from her testified as first prosecution witness on Thursday at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Taiwo Ade Alagbe.
 Mr. Graham, Social Security managing director who is on bail of D1Million is accused of stealing the sum of D652, 250.00 (six hundred and fifty-two thousand, two hundred and fifty dalasi) being the property of Mrs. Ruth Sowe sometimes in 2009.
He denied the allegation.
According to the witness she did not know the accused very much but recognized him. “We spoke twice on telephone. The first call was about the proposed meeting between me and him to discuss the way forward about a property in dispute,” she said.
The property, she said is at 16 Kairaba Avenue and is owned by his aunt who was so close to the accused person. “They were like mother and son,” she adduced, adding that the proposed meeting never took place as she told him that she will need her lawyer. “The accused too said he will refer it his lawyer”
Mrs. Sowe further told the court that she told the accused that she will wait for the outcome of the suit that the accused has taken against her when the he (accused) proposed for another meeting.
The defense at this juncture informed the court about what the accused was charged with by reading it to the court. She said the witness was referring to a judgment that the High Court has already given. “All facts and matters prior to that judgment, this court cannot make those findings,” she said
Bensouda said the fact that the criminal case does not give the prosecution to make findings that of the High Court.
The objection was however overruled by the magistrate.
When witness started giving evidence the magistrate told the prosecution that the case be adjourned as the witness was giving evidence that was different from the charges.
Before the adjournment, the defense brought to the notice of the prosecutor that the jurisdiction of the Banjul Court stops at Denton Bridge. “The property if at 16 Kairaba Avenue, why is the case in this court,” she asked, adding that it should have been preferred at the Kanifing Court.

Ex-Lawmaker, Soldier’s Drug Case Proceeds

The drug trial involving an ex-National Assembly member and a former military personnel will tomorrow proceed with the testimony of the latter.
Dawda Manneh, a former ruling party parliamentarian for Nianija constituency and Demba Baldeh, a former soldier were allegedly found in possession of over 9 kilograms of cannabis, an illicit drug they intend to traffic.
Both pleaded not guilty to the two counts: drug trafficking and conspiracy.
The trial that began since 2008, but faced some stalemate is now coming closer to end.
The former lawmaker on Wednesday completed his testimony before magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
He denied having had knowledge of the cannabis in his vehicle. The cannabis, he said, belongs to his co-accused, Demba Baldeh, he lifted in his vehicle at Brusubi up till .. where they were arrested.
When Demba was asked to open defense on Wednesday, his lawyer urged the court to adjourn the case for her to familiarise herself with the matter.
The trial continues on April 28.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trader Fatajo Found Guilty

Karamo Sainey Fatajo, a trader at Albert Market in Banjul, yesterday dissolved into tears after he was declared guilty of ‘breaching the peace’ for saying that that the neighbouring Senegal will attack Gambia.
The atmosphere that greeted the conviction of Mr Fatajo was a sorry one. Grief-stricken family members and other sympathysers who hoped relief at the end of the four-month long trial, could not hold-back their tears. 
Later, they helplessly looked-on as their loved one, a family bread-winner was being escorted to remand at Mile 2. He will be held under the custody of the state until today when the sentence will be handed-down.
Mr Fatajo was arrested December 2010 at the Albert market in Banjul when Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay, a fellow trader reported him to the police and other state authorities, including the then Secretary General and Head of Civil Service, Dr Njogu Bah.
He is said to have told fellow traders at the market that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia,’ thereby breached the peace. His alleged comment came in the wake of a recent diplomatic row between Senegal and Gambia over alleged Gambia-bound controversial arms shipment impounded in Nigeria from UN-sanctioned Iran when Gambia branded Senegalese president as enemy.    
Despite denying the charge and allegation of uttering the said words, the presiding magistrate in Banjul claimed that he has enough evidence to convict Mr Fatajo.
Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe agreed with Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay’s tesmony in court that Mr Fatajo did say that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia.’
“I was shocked when the defense said that Mr Fatajo was exercising his right to freedom of expression,” he said, adding that comment could lead to disarray.
According to the magistrate, issues of national topics should not be discussed in public places such as a market.
“Certainly the convict has learned his lesson that he will not discuss sensitive and political matters in public,” said lawyer Mboge, in pleading with the court to exercise mercy on his client.
Mr Fatajo is the bread-winner of his family, who has none but him alone to depend on for their survival, Mboge told the magistrate, whose decision on what penalty Mr Fatajo will face, will be known today.

‘Ex-Minister Sambou Unaware of Execution Order in Jabang

Although in control at the time, Mr Ismaila Sambou, the sacked minister for Local Government and Lands wasn’t aware of the execution order that was carried out in Jabang village in 2007, Banjul Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday.
Alkalo Pa Ebrima Colley was continuing his evidence as defense witness no.2 in the trial of fired High Court Judge, Moses Richards, who is accused of giving false information and sedition. 
“Ismaila Sambou said he was not aware of the court order, but ordered me to go to my village and calm my people down,” he testified.
He said all this happen when a young man called Ndow and some Police Intervention Unit personnel came to his village in 2007 and evicted the villagers from their homes and threw their belongings out.
“I was at work when this happened but I telephoned the Paramount Chief of the Gambia, Demba Sanyang and informed him about the development,” he said, noting that the Paramount Chief ordered him to go straight to the village.
He said when he told Ndow that his village was not aware of any suit against them, Ndow told him that “I’m having a court order and will do what I’m told.”
He added that the then chief justice Abdou Karim Savage instructed Ndow to stop the execution and to return to the office.
Pa Colley added that it was in the evening that the then Director of NIA visited the eviction scene and assured them that nothing will happen as the president has given an order that nobody should do anything that will create problem.
He added that the then NIA Director asked him to take photographs of the incident.
Trial resumes tomorrow.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trade Minister Resigns

The recently appointed Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment has resigned from his post according to a statement aired on state TV, GRTS, last evening.
It was stated that the president has accepted his resignation letter on powers invested on him. The letter stated that “Your Excellency it is with big protest and sadness and I hereby tender my recognition from the post. This is a purely for personal and professional reasons.”
Abdou Salam Secka was appointed last month replacing Abdou Colley who was sacked together with works and construction Minister, Yusupha Kah
Prior to his appointment, Secka was the Executive Director of The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) up to the time of his appointment as trade minister.
Meanwhile, the president has reinstated Abdou Colley as the Minister of Trade, Regional Integration and Employment with effect from April 19.
Abdou Kolley was sacked from the same post in March and no reason for his sacking was advanced.

“Justice Rushed is Justice Denied”

Leading defense counsel in the criminal trial involving Moses Richards has described the magistrate’s hastiness to proceed with the matter without the state counsel as injustice.
“Justice delayed is justice denied”, he said, adding that “justice rushed is justice denied” in the trial of a  former High Court Judge – now private lawyer - facing two criminal charges:giving false information and sedition - at Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
He is alleged to have lied to the Sheriff of The Gambia that president of the Republic ordered a stay of execution of a writ of possession in a civil suit; thus gave false information to a public servant and brought contempt into the person of the president of the Republic.
He however denied any wrong doing.
The magistrate who seemed surprised asked: “Why is the defense advocating for the state counsel,” saying that the Deputy Director of Special Litigation, S. Abi reluctantly failed to appear in court as he supposed on the last adjourn date that he will send a letter.
The defense counsel who could not convince the magistrate that most of the state counsels are in the judgment of ex-CDS Tamba told the magistrate to put it in record that it was the wish of court to proceed with the case in their absence. According to the magistrate there are other state counsels who could have represented S. Abi.
Continuing his testimony, Pa Ousman, alkalo of Jabang said he made a statement at the NDEA office in Kanifing in January 2011. “I was asked if what Moses wrote was the same thing I told him to write,” he said
At this juncture the defense applied to tender it but the magistrate said the court could not accept second hand evidence, adding that it is a photocopy and the defense does not lay a proper foundation.
When the defense said he was ready to lay better foundation, the magistrate also said he will adjourn the case, stating that he was not happy about how the case was proceeding.
Gaye, however told the court that the said document was given to him in court by the state counsel in front of the magistrate on the last adjourned date but the magistrate insisted that he has the discretion to adjourn any case he wishes.
Trial resumes April 19.

“Don’t Insult Me” - Banjulinding Imam Challenges Defense In Efry & Rongo’s Case

The Imam of the main mosque in Banjulinding has challenged the defense counsel representing Momodou Lamin Jarju alias Rongo, not to insult him again.
"You should not insult me because I am an Imam. Your father is an Imam too and I will not insult him" the Imam stressed.
The Imam Yahya Bah was reacting to the defense’s statement that he was lying in court when he said that he did not know all the council of elders in Banjulinding in the case of the two APRC loyalist artistes accused of lying against Eric Tundeh Janneh for land grabbing and disuniting the villagers.
The case is underway at Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Yahya Bah during cross-examination denied saying in court that the conflict in Banjulinding started when Eric T. Janneh was removed from alkaloship in 2007. "The problem started when Rongo and Evry started writing letters," he said
Barrister Jah also accused the Imam of making a statement at the police that too many mosques in the village were causing problems within the village but he denied it, adding that he (the Imam) preaches it every Friday at his mosque.
Defense lawyer also examined that the witness wouldn’t know the content of Exhibit A and B as he cannot speak or write English. The witness said he saw the copy before he came to court and that was the very letter the accused persons read at the Bantabaa.
Even though the Lawyer put it to him that he cannot identify the letter as he is illiterate in English, the witness said: "What the accused read, even if I see it in my grave I can recognise it."
When shown the Exhibit to tell the court which date was on it, the witness said he did not know and had no idea about it. He added that all he knew is that what is written in the exhibit is what he repeated in court.
He said the members who write Exhibit A are presently the council of elders headed by Eric T Janneh, adding that he did not know the elders of council before Eric.
When the defense put to the imam that the council of elders that wrote Exhibit A were members before Eric T Janneh, he said I don’t know.
Trial is expected to continue April 27.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unequal Steps to Gender Equality Lead to Inequality. how about men's right?

I have been keenly following your column. I must admit that it is one of the columns that I read and get what I LIKE. You must keep it up and diversify it by talking to both men and women. The issues of both men and women should be your future subjects of discussions.
Many a time when people talk about gender, it’s only the female’s aspect which dominates the discussions. I feel that is not the case, gender refers to both sexes, having said that, I will try to address the issues of women rights. Women and activists tend to sideline the men folks. There is too much talk about women’s rights, women’s federations, women’s bill, one can go on and on and the list will never be exhausted. Is this not too much at the expense of the women themselves?
It appears as if gender equality is taking unequal steps which in turn result in the biggest inequality. Women are right! Women’s right......Then What about men’s right.
Let’s closely look at our school system. The campaign on girl education was so much an activity that we have more girls in our school system than boys. All because of the focus on the incentives and other packages set for the girl child. Are we solving a problem or creating more? The answer definitely is we are creating more problems than solving one. What will happen to the many boy children who should have gone to school but will not because the parents’ financial incapacity to pay their school fees? This will create a situation where many parents will rather prefer sending their girl child to school than the male child. The circumstance did not only demand the education of only the girl child. If a boy and a girl child can all come from the same poor parents then what is the sense in talking about education for girls only?
Today if one goes to the rural towns and villages there are more boys not going to school idling than the girl child. What will happen in the next ten twenty years to come when the male folks will be more of a liability than asset to the nation? And even the very girl child that we said we are protecting will be the first victims. How are they going to be the first victims? They will have husbands and their children depending on them, because of the lack of education and employment. In turn these female household heads will suffer.
This campaign of discrimination must stop. Our school system should put in place a system where both sexes will have access to equal educational opportunities. The eradication of illiteracy is the progressive campaign to engage in. Why the segregations, when our constitution is very clear about segregations. Why too much emphasis on girls and not both boys and girls. I agree that yes both should be given equal opportunities but the way we are going in the past years is only going to yield negative impact on the society at large.
Lets also look at the civil service all the chiefs at work places are females. How many female cabinet members? How many directors are females, how many NGOs are headed by females? I have no problems with giving positions on merits basis, no matter what gender the person belongs but just to say yes we  in the Gambia are first to have such and such as a woman is beside the points.
It has become a norm to an extent that that the ministry of education is feminine, so was the justice ministry at one point, and so was ministry of health also at one point. And also at one point almost all the generals were females. I do not have any problems with that but it has to be based on merits.  Women and men are bound to live side by side. Meritocracy has to be given priority.
Our women folks need to be supported and both men and women need to be on the same level when it comes to opportunities, but what I am opposed to is the preference given to the women folks over the men on the pretext of promoting gender equality. Whether done by the state, organizations or individuals, for me that is not the right thing to do.
I am trying to see what effects such a preference over one sex by the other can bring about. Like in the school scenarios, where so much facilities are given to the girl child over the male child and that is leading a drop of male education. I am sure those behind such policies did not foresee the ill effect of their policies. Now that such are coming to light why not something be done now and right now.
The leadership, the numerous NGOs and some state apparatus that focused on girl education at the expense of the male child should revisit the policies.
The access to land and the issues of poverty having a female face are all issues that I read at one time in your column. Land in this country is not exclusively owned and managed by men alone. Go to our rural areas where rice is cultivated. Many of those lands belong and are managed by women. So where is the entire cry about women not having access to land? Family heads mostly manage the land that belongs to the family but it never excludes the female members of the family.
In the village I grew up, yes, there are more male family heads, but when it comes to the cultivation of the land during the rainy season, land is divided equally. Female members of the family have land to cultivate, their upland rice farms, and go to ‘’banta faros’’ they are the leaders in such cultivations, so where is the evidence that women have no access to land? 
Poverty, yes, I would agree is really a course for concern, the women and men are both poor, let no body fool us. In fact the poverty of men roots cause of the poverty of women in The Gambia. It is no secret we are poor and there is no line between women and men as far as poverty is concern. It is sad that the propagandists are peddling the fact that poverty is a feminine thing. The country is a very poor country. Its people be they women or men are just poor. Period.
We need policies that will change that trend. State monies should be spent in the productive sectors, and wisely too. The country is a tax based country, therefore its monies should not just be allowed to waste like it is.

“I Pleaded with Moses Richards to Write …” Says Jabang Alkalo

“Despite the warnings Pa Harry gave me, Moses refused to write on my behalf. I pleaded with him to write the letter but he said he had problem with the Sherriff and if he writes on my behalf it may not be in my favor,” Pa Ebrima Colley told a packed courtroom.
The witness explained that Moses Richards told him that he had a problem with the Sherriff and the matter reached the Minister of Justice.
He was continuing his evidence in the criminal trial involving the former High Court judge facing two criminal charges – giving false information and sedition - at Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Moses denied any wrong-doing.
The village head of Jabang in Kombo North, West Coast region he was panic when Pa Harry warned him that he had three days left. He said Pa Harry could not allow him to explain when he wanted to, but rather told him to do what the Sherriff asked him to do.
He said he then went back to Moses’ office and told him, “Help me, if you don’t, there will be big problem in my village,” he adduced.
Moses, he said, mentioned other lawyers but he insisted, stating that other lawyers may demand money and he don’t have any.
He said that was the time Richards agreed to write the letter on his behalf only if he explained everything that has happened.
“You mentioned that when you went to the Sherriff’s office, he ordered one Alieu to photocopy a document from a file,” Gaye asked. “Yes”, the witness said.
The document was tendered as ‘ID purpose’ after identifying it as the same document.
Trial resumes Thursday, April 14.

Ex-IGP Ensa Badjie’s Statement Was Obtained at Mile 2 Prison

The cautionary and witness statement of the former police chief was obtained at Mile 2 prisons, according to crime unit officer.
Under-cross examination by Ensa Badjie who was not represented by a legal counsel, Ali Ceesay, officer attached to crime unit in police headquarters in Banjul told the court that he obtained the statement of the police boss at Mile 2 prison.
Ensa is facing a count of abuse of office at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe.
He is alleged to have masterminded the release of one Ousman Drammeh alias Baka who was caught for traffic offence along the Senegambia junction while he (Ensa) was the Inspector General of Police.
In response to the ex-IGP’s question on whether he could recall some of the things he mentioned to him while obtaining his statement, the witness told the court that Ensa told him that he did not appeal to anyone for the release of Baka.
Ensa put it to the witness that he also told him that ex- Captain Lamin Fatty and his men jointly assaulted a PIU officer at Palma Rima junction until they broke his arm but the witness replied: “some are true and some are not”, adding that Ensa only told him that the ex-Captain ordered the PIU officers to move from the Senegambia junction.
The witness further said Ensa told him that he stood by his previous statement when he was obtaining cautionary statement from him
Officer Ceesay further told the court that they received a petition letter from ex-Captain Lamin citing many allegations in which Ensa Badjie was involved in.
Ensa put it to the witness that he never received a petition letter while he was the IGP as the witness claimed, adding that he was only sent a letter when he was detained at Mile 2 prisons for 11 months.
“You said that I had a telephone conversation with Ousman Drammeh. Did I call him or he called?” former police chief asked, but the witness said he cannot confirm that.
“Am putting it to you that pw1 did mentioned in this court that he called me, that I told him it was none of my business,” Ensa advanced, but the witness said he wouldn’t know that as he was not in court.
Case continues Friday 15, 2011

Ex-Parliamentarian Drug Case Proceeds

The criminal trial involving Dawda Manneh, former National Assembly member for Nianija constituency in the Central River Region and Demba Baldeh ex-soldier on Monday proceeded before

acting principal magistrate of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, Taiwo Ade Alagbe.
Dawda Manneh and Demba Baldeh are standing trial on charges of being in possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking, as well as conspiracy. They were alleged to have conspired to traffic 9 kilograms and 260 grams of suspected drug (cannabis). But they all denied the charges.
Under-cross examination, 2nd accused Demba Baldeh put it to ex-parliamentarian that he lied in court when he said he did not know him.
“I know him very well and he contacted me many times for me to help him financially pertaining to this matter,” the ex-soldier said
Baldeh also put it to the 1st accused that he never informed him the day he lifted him; that he was containing cannabis in the boot of his car. But the ex-NAM maintained that he needed not to do so.
“How can I put a huge bag in a boot without the owner challenging,” the 2nd accused challenged but the 1st accused said he did not because he was not expecting that the bag contained cannabis.
He added that the 2nd accused told him he was taking clothes and other item for his family
The case resume April 19 for second accused to open defense.

Arm Shipment Row Victim’s Judgment Rescheduled Again

A depressing look could clearly be seen on Karamo Sainey Fatajo’s face after he was told by magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe that the judgment will be delivered Monday 18 instead of the previously scheduled date of Monday 11, 2011.
Karamo Sainey Fatajo, a businessman at the Albert market was anticipating to know his fate on Monday 11, 2011.
He is being tried for what the police called ‘breaching the peace’ by allegedly saying that Senegal will attack The Gambia after Gambia government branded Senegalese president, Abdoulie Wade enemy, accusing Wade of engaging in a smear campaign against The Gambia. 
It was the second time the judgment has been rescheduled. It was set for Friday 8 but was again rescheduled for Monday, April 18.
The reason(s) for not delivering the judgment on January 7 was not clear to this reporter, but both the prosecution and defense counsels were in court. The court clerk however told this reporter that the judgment will be delivered next Monday

‘NIA Officer Threatened to Shoot Him’ - Narcotic Officer

A narcotic officer in the criminal trial involving four NIA officials has told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court that Lamin Darboe threatened to shoot him when he attempted to take two nylon bags of suspected drugs from him.
“He hit me on the chest and when I approached Omar Jammeh he pulled out a gun and fired a shot and threatened to shoot me if I attempt to take the nylon bags,” said Lamin Sima, state no 3 witness on Monday
 Lamin Darboe, Ebrima Drammeh, Edrissa Jobe and Omar Jammeh all intelligent officers are standing trial on two counts of criminal offences.
The accused persons have sometime in May 2009 at the NIA head office in Banjul allegedly conspired to cause injury to the persons of Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima at the NIA head office in Banjul. 
On count 2, they intently caused grievous bodily harm to Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima, unlawfully wounded Lamin Kabou and Lamin Sima, by beating them with fist blows, electric cables and metals.
All accused persons denied the allegations.
Sima said he found the accused persons in Brikama Kembujeh after receiving information and directives that there are drug peddlers at the said place.
He said upon arrival, he met the NIA officers and introduced himself to them. He said the 3rd accused insulted him when he demanded the suspected drugs. According to the witness, 3rd accused told him: “This is not your NDEA show and I will not surrender anything.”
Sima added that the officials later left the scene with some people whom they arrested. He said he followed them but the 3rd accused threatened to put him behind bars. He said when he told them that he was doing his work, the officials left with the drugs.
He said they came back within a couple of minutes and took the suspects to NIA headquarters.
He stated that after few days the 2nd accused called him and ordered him to report to NIA but he informed him that he was under somebody’s command and the accused told him, “am here with your boss Bun Sanneh and if you don’t come within a hour, we will arrest you.”
He said he went direct to the NDEA office where he met Bun Sanneh who ordered him to board the vehicle which was full of NIA officers. “When I entered the car I found Lamin Kabou tied and was bleeding. When I asked what was going on Bun ordered me to keep quiet,” he said.
He said when they reached NIA headquarters they beat Kabou with electric wire. “He was shouting and calling Bun Sanneh to come and help him,” the witness testified.
He said Bun and the then Director General of NIA Bo Badjie came out. He said Bo sent them out and Bun said in anger that his officers had no respect for him before he left.
He said when Bun Sanneh, left the officers came back and took him to a small room upstairs and started beating him until he start bleeding from his neck.
“I shouted and told them that I will do whatever they said because I was tired and they say that was just the introduction,” he adduced
He said they tore the statement he wrote as they were not satisfied and later took him to a cell call ‘bambadinka’ where he was detained for almost two hours.
He said he was taken out of the cell after ex-IGP Ensa Badjie’s intervention. He said when he met Ensa Badjie at the conference room, he narrated everything to him. He added that Ensa told him that Bun Sanneh went to his office and told him that his men were taken to NIA and are being tortured
“Ensa told them that it was improper to treat a fellow officer like that,” he said
He said they told Ensa that he was dealing with drug peddlers but when Ensa asked them about the drugs, they said it was fertilizer.
He said he was detained for 28 days and was taken to court but the case was struck out and he was discharged.
The trial continues.

Monday, April 11, 2011

D-Day for Victim of Senegal-Gambia Arms Shipment Row

A man who became a victim of a recent diplomatic row between the neighboring Senegal and The Gambia will know his fate today, if the Banjul Magistrates’ Court delivers on its promise. 
Mr Karamo Saidy Fatajo, a trader at Albert Market in Banjul is accused of conducting himself in a manner that could breach the peace.
Tensions had once again brewed between the neighboring Senegal and The Gambia following the seizure of alleged Gambia-bound controversial arms shipment by Nigerian authorities in Lagos seaport. The shipment was Iran, who is sanctioned by UN to deal in arms and ammunition.  
Amid mounting allegations in Senegal that Gambia intends to use those weapons to sponsor independence seeking rebels of Casamance in Senegal, Gambia government responded by branding Senegalese president as enemy.
Although the issue was a topical one, Mr Fatajo, who allegedly told his colleague traders at the market that Senegal will attack Gambia following the allegations, was arrested and detained at the police headquarters in Banjul. 
Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay, his trader friend admitted reporting him to the police for his alleged comments.
He first appeared in court on December 20, 2010 and was granted bail in the sum of D50, 000.
Three state witnesses had testified in the trial, but Mr Fatojo maintained innocence. 
The three-month-long trial is expected to end today

Friday, April 8, 2011

Binta A Bah Awarded Daily News Best Journalist And Kissykissymansa Bags Best Columnist Award

Binta A. Bah, a reporter has been awarded the Best Journalist of The Daily News, a private Gambian tri-weekly newspaper that publishes in print and online.
Established on April 6, 2009 by Madi M.K Ceesay, a seasoned Gambian journalist, The Daily News on Wednesday celebrated two years of existence at a ceremony held at the paper’s office in Churchill’s Town, Serrekunda.
The occasion was well attended, especially by media practitioners from other print media outlets.
Two veteran journalists, Mr Swaebou Conate, editor/publisher of The Gambia News & Report weekly magazine and Bijou Peters, a retired journalist respectively delivered topics on the impact and future of the paper. 
On the award, Binta A Bah, a judicial correspondent who anchors ‘Musoolula Bantabaa’, a weekly women’s column has been awarded best journalist of the paper.
Binta began the trade last year when she joined The Daily News after completing the Media Agenda-partnered Insight Training Centre one-year certificate studies in journalism. She is currently pursuing her diploma and working full time.   
Meanwhile, Mr Saikou Jammeh, the editor in chief, who anchors Kissykissy Mansa, also a weekly column that produces researched, investigative and in-depth articles on burning issues.
Mr Jammeh began his journalism career at The Gambia News & Report weekly magazine in 2007. He was among the founding staff of The Voice, an independent newspaper where he left in October 2009 as sub-editor to join The Daily News.
At The Daily News, Mr Jammeh started as a freelance reporter and rose through various ranks: staff reporter, sub-editor and editor in chief respectively.  
Both winners were awarded a prize of five hundred dalasis.

In Lawyer Moses Richards Sedition Trial Jabang Alkalo: ‘Sheriff Advised Me to Secure the Services of a Lawyer’

the village head of Jabang in Kombo North, West Coast region on Wednesday said it was the Sheriff of the High Court, who advised him to secure the services of a barrister.
Pa Ebrima Colley was giving evidence as defense witness in the trial against defense lawyer Moses Richards, a former High Court judge, accused of sedition and false information.
Richards, who pleaded not guilty, is alleged to have, on behalf of Pa Colley, his client, written a deceiving letter to the Sheriff of High that the Office of the President ordered a stay of execution of judgment in a certain civil suit.
Testifying at Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe, Pa Colley recalled receiving a telephone call from a High Court staff called, Alieu, who told him that he was needed at the Sheriff’s Office at the High Court in Banjul.
He said the Sheriff of the High Court asked him if he could remember the incident that happened in his village in the 2007, which prompted government’s intervention and he answered in the affirmative. 
Pa Ebrima Colley adduced that the Sherrif then advised him to secure a lawyer because there was going to be an eviction exercise as was done in 2007.
“I got frightened and asked the Sheriff what was I supposed to do” he told the court. “The Sheriff told me that I needed to secure the services of a lawyer who should write a letter for me.”
He said when he enquired from the Sherriff as to what else he was to tell the lawyer, the Sheriff then ordered Alieu, to photocopy a letter which he was later given to take to his lawyer.
Pa Colley said he then took the letter to the accused person, Moses Richards, to help him write a letter as directed by the Sherrif.
According to him, Richards directed him to consult Kebba Sanyang, also a legal practitioner, but the latter told him that he was minister of Justice at the time of the saga; that he could not write the letter.
He adduced that Mr Sanyang also directed him to consult the service chiefs. He said he unable to met the IGP but managed to speak to the deputy Inspector General of Police, who told him that it was good that he informed him.
“Few days later, the office of the Sheriff calls me again. Upon arrival, Alieu told him that the sheriff had travelled. I was taken to the office of Pa Harry Jammeh, the solicitor general.”
Trail continues Monday April 11. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Moses Richards: No Reason was Advanced for My Termination

Moses Richards, a former High Court judge sacked April last year has said that no reason was advanced to him for the termination of his service as a judge.
Richards made this remarks on Wednesday at the magistrates’ court in Banjul where he is standing trial on charges of sedition and false information, which he denied.
Now a private legal practitioner, Richards served extensively as a magistrate in almost all the regions in the country before he was promoted a judge in charge of the Special Criminal Division of High Court created to preside over capital offences with a view to reduce the backlog of cases. 
And when the Director Special Litigation, D.H Kulo told him that he (Richards) got his dismissal from the bench for misconduct on a land matter including Abdoulie Jobe, Moses rubbished the allegation.
“That is not true,” he responded. “I never misconduct myself. My service was terminated and no reason was given.”
“It is correct to say that you lied on oath in this court” Kulo asked, but Moses denied lying to the court.
Kulo also accused Richards of having had a problem with police when he acted for Abdoulie Jobe for the purchase of land while he was a judge, but Moses denied it.
“If the record indicates you once had a problem with the police, it is correct for the court to treat you as a liar,” Kulo advanced.
However, the leading defense counsel Surahata Janneh objected to the admissibility of that question. Janneh said the state counsel was speculating.
Although Kulo countered that Richards should be allowed to answer the question, the court nonetheless granted the defense’s objection.
As the cross- examination continued, Kulo asked the accused that he as a former magistrate and High Court judge if the way he wrote the letter as his client narrated to him was the proper way.
“The Sheriff confirmed in this court that he asked him (his client) to write a letter,” Moses replied
Moses added that he wrote what his client narrated to him about what happened in 2007 in Jabang.
“As a lawyer I take my instructions from my client and I wrote on his behalf,” he said, denying being dictated by his client.
According to him, he took reasonable steps to make sure what he wrote was what the Sheriff told his client. “The Director of Physical Planning also confirmed that what my entire client said was the truth,” he added.
“And that is why you did not call the Sheriff of the Secretary General” Kulo asked.
Richards replied: “I have no cause to ask Pa Ebrima Colley the nature of the letter because he knew very well what the Sheriff told him.”
He added that his letter of the 6 December was acknowledged by the Sheriff who he said thanked him.
“You are being economical of the truth,” Kulo put to him.
But Richards insisted that he was saying the truth.
He said it is very incorrect for the Sherrif to copy any of his correspondents to the Office of the President because the matter does not concern the Office of the President.
He said he never mentioned in his evidence that the villagers of Jabang sustained injuries during the execution.
Richards said the Director of Physical Planning told him that investigations were going on to determine the land ownership of Jabang.
The case resumes today.
Author: Binta A Bah

Banjulunding Imam Continues Testimony Against Rongo & Efry Mbye

Alhagie Yahya Bah, Imam of Banjulunding on Wednesday continued testimony against two prominent artistes accused of lying against the alkalo of Banjulunding, Eric Tundeh Janneh.
Momodou Jarju alias, a musician and Efry Mbye, a griot last year wrote a letter to the Office of the President alleging Alkali Janneh of grabbing lands and disuniting the villagers. Both pleaded not guilty.
Testifying at Banjul Magistrates’ Court, Imam Bah said the said letter was drafted by Malang Badjie and Rongo. The Imam adduced that Efry and Rongo have also written a letter to the managing director of Daily Observer, Mr Pa Malick Faye.
According to him, the letter which states that Malang Badjie is the chairman of the village’s council of elders was given to Daily Observer for publication, but Pa Malick hesitated to publish the said letter because the alkalo’s signature was missing in the letter.
He added that when Pa Malick showed him the letter and pictures from his computer screen he advised him not to publish the letter and asked him to give him the letter which he did.
He said all this happened when Rongo read a letter at the Bantabaa, which he (Rongo) said is from the president. He added that he did not know the whereabouts of the original copies when the police asked.
The defense at this juncture objected to the tendering of letters when the prosecutor sought to. He said the document was not prepared by the witness and that a proper foundation was not laid to tender the document.
The magistrate however overruled the defense’s objection. He said the court presume that the original document is in the possession of the accused persons.
Continuing his testimony, Imam said after Rongo read the letter which stated that the President has now made Malang Badjie the chairman of council of elders, villagers nearly brawled.
And when the villagers confronted Rongo for lying, he showered verbal assault on them, Imam Bah said.
He said the elders, including himself went back to the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) office in Kanifing who earlier warned them against any conflict at the village.
They informed the officials of the allegations made by Rongo, he said, noting that the officials confirmed that what Rongo has said is false and that the alkalo was the chairman of council of elders.
Under cross-examination, Imam Bah admitted that there are three main Mosques in Banjulunding, but he did not know whether the other Imams are part of the council of elders.
The trial resumes 13 April.

“I Was Known as ‘No Nonsense Judge” – Richards

A former High Court judge facing allegations of sedition and false information has on Friday told Banjul Magistrates’ Court that his diligence as an adjudicating officer earned him a name: ‘No Nonsense Judge.’
Moses Richards was reacting to a question posed to him by the director of Special Litigation, Daniel Kulo that he randomly arrested defense lawyers when he was a magistrate and then a judge.
Served as a magistrate in various parts of the country and as the first judge of the newly created Special Criminal Division of High Court designed to ‘exclusively preside over capital offences’, Richards has made a name for himself as a no-non-sense adjudicating officer throughout his tenure at the bench. 
He was dismissed in April last year for reasons unexplained following which he started practicing as a private legal practitioner.
“I was very diligent. I was known as a nonsense Judge,” he said in response to Kulo’s question.
“You were so diligent that you bring your children to court while presiding over cases,” Kulo quizzed further, but Richards denied that.
He also denied instructing the arrests of barristers McCarthy, Chime and Omar Njie, and the Proprietor of Harry’s Supermarket. 
He however admitted ordering the arrest of numerous people who failed to appear in court.
D.H Kulo further accused the former High Court judge of abandoning D10, 000 on the desk of the director of public prosecution while his trial is on-going.
Kulo said the DPP reported the matter to the police, but Moses said he was not aware that he was reported until an officer came to his office and told him that he was needed at the police headquarters.
Richards said the allegation surprises him because he went to the DPP’s office to find-out about a client who was rearrested and sent to mile 2 after the Special Criminal Court discharged the client. 
Still under cross-examination, Moses said he was asked by the police to put in writing as to why he went to DDP’s office which he did. He added that he has no personal problem with the DPP.
When asked whether the DPP is mad or mentally ill, Moses replied: “Madness varies and I wouldn’t have known that. But I don’t think so.”
Kulo asked: “Have you retracted anything in the content of the letter that generated this trial?” Moses however said he hasn’t retracted anything. He added: “When the Sheriff wrote back to me with the accusation, I replied him informing him that he misinterprets my letter. And I further indicated [to him] in the letter that I as a Gambian, I am in a better condition to know the virtue of the president than him.”
 Kulo further put it to Richards that he was sued by his client Mr. Joof over a land transaction, but the court dismissed that question after the defense objected.
When asked whether he regretted writing that letter to the Sheriff, Richards noted that he has no cause to remorse.
“Since he has no remorse we will leave him now before he will tell more lies,” Kulo said.
The case resumes April 6.