Kandeh and Titus were convicted and sentenced after they changed their plea from not guilty to guilty on four counts of criminal indictments namely, conspiracy, failure to register a business and two counts of disobedience to statutory duty.
When arranged initially, they denied the charges preferred against them and said they were not guilty. But yesterday, Lamin Mboge representing the two men, informed the court that they have decided to change their plea to guilty.
Mboge urged the court to read out the charges to Messers Kandeh and Titus to enable them to take their plea afresh as required by the law. As the charges were read out to Kandeh and Titus by the court clerk, Mr Titus burst into tears which prompted his counsel to apply for a short stand down of the case before the state prosecutor, Abdurrahman Bah could furnish the court with the history of the case.
In his brief narration of the history of the case, the state prosecutor explained: “The incident happened in the month of May this year while the 2nd accused, Mr Titus conducted a survey for a Ghanaian company, called FACTS International Ghana Limited which conducts surveys and he met with one Jacob John who linked him with Mr Jaw to conduct a survey in The Gambia. Mr Titus worked with FACTS International Ghana Limited which was awarded by Gallup International which also conducts survey in Africa and The Gambia was one of those countries. In November this year, Mr Kandeh and Titus arrived in The Gambia to conduct the exercise and they invited Mr Jaw on board who is a lecturer at the University of The Gambia.”
He further explained that the duo conducted a series of training on data collection and they trained and attracted students from the university who were armed with questionnaires and arrangements were made for the students to disperse to collect data in the country.
The prosecutor recalled that on 5 November 2014, Kandeh and Titus were arrested by the officers of the National Intelligence Agency who conducted an investigation. The two men later wrote statements.
When the prosecutor tried to tender the data collection questionnaires as exhibits, Lawyer Mboge objected. Lawyer Mboge argued that the prosecution could only apply to tender exhibits if his clients had denied the charges and as they had not, admitting the document would be improper, premature trivial and prejudicial to the rights of his clients. Barrister Mboge asked the court not to entertain the application made by the prosecution. Segga Gaye and Aji Combeh Gaye-Coker, both representing co-accused Sait Matty Jaw, associated themselves with the submission. Mrs Gaye-Coker described the attempt by the prosecution as ‘giving evidence through the back door’ and urged the court to reject the application. However, the state prosecutor insisted that the document he sought to tender was neither prejudicial nor premature. However, he later withdrew all his application including the statements of Kandeh and Titus.
Plea for mitigation
Shortly before passing his sentence, Lawyer Mboge in his mitigation on behalf of his clients, reminded the court that the convicts were “our brothers from our sub-region” of Ghana and Nigeria and based on their pleas, the court would realise that the convicts were remorseful so much so that they could not control their emotions. He informed the court that the convicts have now registered their business and regularised their status in The Gambia and therefore have satisfied the requirements of all counts as charged. He then tendered the registration certificate in a bid to convince the trial magistrate to impose “a reasonable” sentence on the convicts.
“In view of the above mentioned mitigating factors, I humbly urge the court to temper justice with mercy and help the convicts to celebrate Christmas with their families. The 2nd convict, Mr Titus intimated to me that he planned for his wedding this Christmas,” counsel appealed.
After listening to the mitigation the trial magistrate, Samsideen Conteh, sentenced Kandeh and Titus to D50,000 on each of the four counts in default to serve one year jail term on each count.
Consequently, Mr Jaw is now alone facing the four count charges and he is to appear again in court on January 14 for hearing. The court has also upheld that the witness intended to be called by the prosecution would give evidence in camera for the purpose of public safety and defence.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the trial of Njogu Bah, the former secretary general and head of civil service could not proceed yesterday as both parties in the case were said to be “busy”. The case was adjourned to 7 January 2015 for continuation. Mr Bah is being tried on a charge of abuse of office for appointing one Ms Jainaba Jobarteh as The Gambia’s representative to the United Nations without following due procedures. He denied any wrong doing.]]>