By Binta A Bah
Former Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Bamba Banja, has appeared at the Gambia Court of Appeal seeking bail from prisons custody pending the final determination of the appeal against his conviction.
Banja was sentenced in March to a two-year mandatory jail term for allegedly accepting D100,000 bribe from a Chinese private company in September 2018 to free their vessel detained for engaging in illicit fishing. He was also fined one million dalasis for causing economic loss to the Gambia government. Banja is appealing against the decision of high court judge B.A Bakre.
Banja who served in the civil service for more than four decades was found guilty on all three charges of economic crime, official corruption and public officer receiving property to show favour.
His bail matter was heard in chambers as one of the three -member panel of judges was absent. Meanwhile both parties have been ordered to file briefs of arguments before the hearing was adjourned to next month for adoption of briefs.
His affidavit filed in support of the motion seeking for bail sworn by his wife Maimuna Gomez Banja, stated that Banja has high blood pressure and diabetes, which attacks are frequent even with his efforts to control it through a strict dietary routine.
The affidavit also stated that Banja is not at a flight risk and unless the court grants him bail, he will remain in Mile 2 Prisons for the next three years which according to his wife is not a suitable environment to adequately cater for his health conditions and complications.
Meanwhile, the state’s affidavit in opposition stated that a medical condition or sickness is not an exception to serving a mandatory jail term, arguing also that there is no medical report showing that Banja is diabetic or has been diagnosed with it. The state further stated that he is not entitle to bail based on the facts stated that the application should be refused.