Messrs Jaw, a Gambian, Seth Yaw Kandeh a Ghanaian and Olufemi Erinle Titus, a Nigerian, are being tried by the state on four counts of conspiracy and failure to register a business and disobedience to statutory duty charges. The three men denied all the charges.
When they were first arraigned on December 11, their lawyer, Segga Gaye, requested for his clients to be released on bail. The state counsel, Abdurrahman Bah, did not raise any opposition. He however reminded the court about the nationalities of Kandeh and Titus whom he said were foreigners and as such, their bail conditions should be such that they would not flee the jurisdiction. The matter was then adjourned for ruling by the court.
When the matter resumed yesterday, the presiding magistrate, Samsideen Conteh, ruled: “I have gone through the submission made by the parties in this case and I believe that bail entirely rests on the discretion of the court. I hereby grant bail to each of the accused persons in the sum of D5 million with two Gambians sureties who must enter in recognisance of the said amount and a property within the Greater Banjul Area. The accused persons are also ordered to surrender their travelling documents to the registrar and report to the Banjul Police Headquarters on Mondays and Fridays.”
Immediately after the ruling on the bail, Ida Drameh, counsel for Mr Jaw, asked for the state prosecutor to furnish the defence with the witness statements of all the witnesses they intended to call as well as all the necessary documents to be used by the prosecution pertaining to the case.
Her application was briefly objected to by the State Counsel Bah who argued that they were not obliged to provide the witness statements to the defence but said he would do so.
Bah then told the magistrate: “We intend to proceed on the next adjourned date but the witness we intend to call is an NIA officer and we apply that the evidence to be given by the witness be held in camera in pursuant to Section 24, Sub-section 2 of the Constitution and Section 61 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Though it is the right of the accused persons for their trial to be held in open court, due to the witness we intend to call, we apply for the matter to be heard in camera.”
He contended that if the witness gives evidence in an open court, it would have an adverse impact on his job as his chances to detect crime in society would be impaired. The state prosecutor added that if the court refused to grant the application, it would endanger public safety and order and urged the court to grant the application in the interest of public safety and defence.
Reacting to the application, Lawyer Drameh also referred the court to the said sections cited by the state prosecutor saying the law is clear on the matter and that the court should always give regard to the Constitution. Ms Drameh expounded that the court needed to be satisfied with the facts laid before it and whether it was in the interest of public safety and morals before granting the application. She submitted that the court was not satisfied with the facts laid before it and as such it was not the function of the court to speculate. She urged the court to dismiss the application.
The magistrate adjourned the matter to December 23 for ruling.
Meanwhile, by the time of going to press, it was not clear to this paper whether the accused persons were able to meet their bail conditions and release.]]>