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City of Banjul
Saturday, September 26, 2020

In Njogu Bah abuse of office trial (DPP and Defence lawyer clash)

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Lawyer Mboge threw this challenge yesterday during his cross-examination of the witness at the Banjul courts before Magistrate Hilary Abeke after the state prosecutors presented their evidence against Mr Bah, who also served as the minister of presidential affairs.   

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Bah is already serving a two-year jail term along with the former Justice minister, Lamin Jobarteh and solicitor general, Pa Harry Jammeh, after they were found guilty by the Special Criminal Court in Banjul last year. 

With regard to the current litigation, Mr Bah is battling another charge for abuse of office for posting Jainaba Jobarteh to the UN, a charge he denied. 

Lamin Ceesay who claimed in his evidence that he was a security officer but did not disclose to the court which security agency he belongs to, told the court in his evidence that he obtained statements from Njogu Bah in the presence of an independent witness and later a charge for abuse of office was leveled  against him. 

In his bid to discredit the state witness, Mr Mboge demanded the witness to tell the court where he got his evidence that his client had abused his office by posting Jainaba Jobarteh to the UN as indicated on the charge sheet.  “Where did you get the evidences that my client has abused his office by posting Jainaba Jobarteh to the United Nations?”  

However, the director of public prosecution, Hadi Saleh Barkum, raised objection to the line of questioning, arguing that “evidence or no evidence, it was was a matter of law that cases are proved by establishing the ingredients and that such ingredients could only be appreciated by a legally-minded person”. 

The state chief prosecutor pointed out that what was expected from his witness to say in court was to say what he could remember, stressing that it was the duty of the court to determine a particular case. “This act by the defence is like hijacking the duty of the court…” she queried.  

The magistrate ruled in favour of the DPP but Mr Mboge persisted that his question was relevant and material to the case. He submitted that the witness had admitted in his evidence that the charge sheet was written by him and his client was cautioned but denied the charge. He elucidated that the duty of the prosecution was to prove their case while the duty of the defence was to discredit it, adding that the court was also there to adjudicate and he urged the court to admit his question. 

The state witness further testified that upon completion of their investigation of the case, the accused was charged with abuse of office but he could not justify whether there was any legal opinion issued on  the case.

“On what basis did you charge the accused upon conclusion of your investigation for abuse of office?” the defence inquired. At that juncture the DPP rose to object the question and  the question was overruled by the court. Hearing resumes March 31.

Author: Baba Sillah

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