“I will exercise caution and give the prosecution one more chance to proceed with this matter on the next adjournment date. If the prosecution is not before the court on the next adjournment date to proceed with the matter, I will do only one thing which is to discharge the accused and dismiss this suit accordingly,” Magistrate Mbye ruled after Antouman Gaye, lawyer for Mr Njie, urged him to discharge his client after the prosecution failed yet again to appear in court.
The magistrate added: “I have listened very carefully to the application made by the senior counsel. I agree with counsel that this matter has suffered several delays at the instance of the prosecution. The last time this matter was mentioned the prosecutor applied that the matter be adjourned as he was on that particular day handed the file and was not familiar with the facts. He asked for adjournment and it was granted today. Yet the said prosecutor is not present in court and he did not communicate to the court any reason for his absence.
“Secondly, the accused person has a right to fair and speedy trial without unnecessary delays by either side. But because the trial has taken so long without any end in sight, I tend to agree with counsel that further adjourning this matter will cause more injustice to the accused person,” he said before adjourning the case to August 20.
His threat to discharge Mr Njie came when Lawyer Gaye said the prosecution was ‘uninterested’ in pursuing the matter. “They have closed their case and the accused has already given his evidence-in-chief. All that remains is for the accused to be cross-examined. May I apply under section 163 of the CPC and having regard to the evidence led to have the accused acquitted and discharged. We cannot have this charge hanging over the accused person,” he said.
The former permanent secretary is on trial at the Banjul Magistrates Court accused of giving false information to the Office of the President, that former Gambia Football Association executives were engaged in financial malpractices and never gave a thorough account of the imprests given to them for international matches and therefore sought approval to dissolve the said GFA executive, an information he knew to be false or does not believe to be true. He denied any wrongdoing. Five witnesses, including the treasurer of the GFA have so far testified as state witnesses.]]>