|Banjul Port (Photo: Access Gambia)|
It is a bad practice for the prosecution to take an economic crime case to the Magistrates’ Court knowing that the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear such cases, argues Modou Drammeh, counsel for Hali Abdoulie Gai, former ports director.
The former managing director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) was arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates’ Court on March 20, 2013. Prosecutors accused him of “neglect of official duty” and “economic crime”. He denied the two charges.
Gai’s lawyers, Drammeh and Ousainou Darboe, applied for bail which was rejected by the court. The lower court has the jurisdiction to grant bail despite lacking the legal mandate or jurisdiction to preside over cases of economic crime.
Corporal Saja Sanyang, prosecuting, opposed bail. He argued investigations into the case are yet to be completed, and the accused will interfere if granted bail.
Acting Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow, presiding, ordered for the transfer of the case to the Office of Chief Justice. He also ordered for the accused to be remanded in custody.
Gai has been reporting to the police for about two months until Wednesday when he was charged to court, his lawyers said.
Lawyer Darboe said: “If the investigation was not completed the charge sheet would not have been filed before the court because the prosecution has sufficient information as to how, where and when the alleged offences were committed”.
He is of the view that the prosecution is using the charge sheet “to punish the accused” by depriving him of his liberty.
Prosecutors accused Mr Gai of “willfully neglecting his official duty” to protect the funds provided for the procurement of new ferries between April 1, 2011 and April 26, 2011.
They also accuse him of “intentionally and unlawfully approving unauthorized payment of 1, 170,000 Euros from a loan granted by the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) for the procurement of new ferries.”
This, prosecutors claim, caused “economic loss” to the Government of The Gambia.
Written by Modou S. Joof
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