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Friday, April 16, 2021

Defence doubts DDPP’s competence in NIA 9 trial

By Baba Sillah

Lawyers representing the former state intelligence officials have asked for the withdrawal of the matter and the discharge of their clients, saying the deputy director of public prosecution, MB Abubacarr is not the competent authority for the case.

Moving the motion before Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the High Court yesterday defence counsel, CE Mene reminded the court that the matter was set for defence to move their summon of notice and they were ready to move it with the permission of the court.
Barrister Mene began his submission by outlining his grounds as why the said case should be withdrawn as well as the accused to be discharged.

He contended that the reason for his contention was because the case has not been properly instituted with due process of the law and in accordance with the 1997 Constitution.
He  further argued that the office of the director of public prosecution [DPP] was created under 1997 Constitution as a public office and is distinct from the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice noting that as on March 28, 2017 when the information regarding this case was signed and assigned by MB Abubacarr as the deputy director of public prosecution, there was no incumbent director of public prosecutions up to date appointed by the president in accordance with the 1997 Constitution.
Further going with his argument in a packed courtroom, the lead defence noted that the position of the state in the case does not represent the position of the laws of the land in this particular case.

”The power vested in the DPP must be exercised by him or her in person or directed by anyone who is under his or her control and since there is no incumbent DPP, then who is there to exercise such power on his or her behalf and this bill of information is inconsistent with the 1970 Constitution and the office of the deputy director of public prosecution is not in law,’ lawyer Mene protested.

Responding to defence’s application, DDPP MB Abubacarr objected strongly to the submission citing Section 84 of1997 Constitution which he said created and guaranteed the office of the director of public prosecution with no distinction from the office of the Attorney General.
MB Abubacarr submitted that there is no distinction between the office of the director of public prosecution and the office of the Attorney General as far as the 1997 Constitution is concern saying ‘the argument by the defence is misconceived and baseless.’

The deputy state chief prosecutor further contended that whether the office of the DPP is occupied at any time, the function continues as the power of the DPP can be exercised by department in the absence of an incumbent.

“I am competent, capable to initiate this case, the application by the defence therefore is untenable and should be dismissed,” he said.
Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara at that point adjourned the matter to April 18, 19 for mentioning and May 2 for ruling.

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