Thursday, June 23, 2011

Murder!

 1st witness testifies in murder trial against state agents
 
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  • UN High Level Meeting Ends
  • What negotiations are ongoing in NAPSA trial
  • Ensa Badjie questions Musa Susso on ‘dead bull’

  • 1st witness testifies in murder trial against state agents
3 of the 5 were exonerated on June 13, 2011
The murder trial involving Ebou Low and Eku P.L Grand commenced yesterday with the testimony of the first Prosecution Witness Matarr Conteh at the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul before Justice Joseph Enwa Ikpala.
The two National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) officials are charged with “murder”, Contrary to Section 187 and Punishable under Section 188 of the Criminal Code Volume III Laws of The Gambia.
They first appeared before the Lower Court in Banjul and later transferred to the Special Criminal Division of the High Court. Following the exoneration of three officers, the particular of offence has it that Ebou Low and Eku P.L. Grant on or about the 25th March 2011 at Bakau Kanifing Municipality unlawfully cause the death of one Cherno Alieu Suwareh by hitting him on the head against the wall knowing that death would be a probable consequence of such act. They have since pleaded not-guilty.
On Wednesday 22nd June, 2011, the 1st witness, Matarr Conteh, a narcotic officer residing in Banjul recalled that on 25th March 2011, they embark on a raiding exercise at Bakau Sanchaba where they went into the house of one Cherno Alieu Suwareh (now decease).
He said among the raiding team were Ebou Low, Eku P.L Grand (1st and 2nd accused), Abdoulie M.K Jallow, Jerreh Cham, Modou C. Jaw, Essa Touray, Kekuta Gibba, Modou Njie, Musa Sambou and himself.
He said Suwareh’s compound gate was closed and a boy standing nearby asked the decease (Cherno Alieu Suwareh) to open the gate for us as we are NDEA officers.
Conteh adds that when the decease opens the gate, they explained to him about their mission notifying him that they wanted to conduct a search of the house, to which the decease complied.
The house is a room and parlor. While I was inside the bedroom, the 1st accused was in the parlor with the decease searching and suddenly I saw a scuffle between them (1st accused and the decease).
“The 1st accused held onto the dreadlocks of the decease and smashes his face against the wall until the decease sustained an injury, the 1st accused then continue searching and recovered some substance and pull out a truncheon (robber baton) and started hitting the decease on the shoulders and the sides,” he said.
According to Conteh, the 1st accused (Ebou Lowe) again continued his search and discovered another 13 medium bundles of suspected cannabis from one of the decease (Cherno Alieu Suwareh) jacket. Meanwhile, he said the 2nd accused (Eku P.L. Grant) also discovered D40 from the pocket in one of the decease’s trousers.
He further said Ebou Lowe went at the back of the house and uncovered two big containers of suspected cannabis and after counting it, it was 56 small bundles of the said drugs.
He said the decease was then arrested and taken to the NDEA’s office for further action to be taken against him. “As I was in permanent morning shift, one day I went to the office and I was told that the Suwareh was seriously ill and was taken to the hospital. When he was admitted at the hospital I used to mount on duties for 24 hours from 8am to 8am, to watch over the decease, but one Friday I was off and one of our personnel Yaya Jatta was the one on duty,” he adduced.
He said Jatta call and informed the station officer that the Cherno Alieu Suwareh has died. Conteh said the station officer asked him to confirm the “story” which he did and later call the station officer to tell him that in fact Suwareh had dies.
According to Conteh, the station officer ordered that Suwareh’s family be called and asked if they’d prefer a post mortem, on the contrary, the family preferred not to and a death certificate was issued and signed by one of the family members.

Cross examination
After his testimony, the defence counsel for the 1st accused, Badou Conteh applied for an adjournment to prepare for the cross-examination of the witness, while the counsel for the 2nd accused, Lamin S. Camara said he did not have any question for the witness.
The Case has been adjourned till 4th July, 2011 for cross-examination. The state was represented by Prosecutor Ebrima Jaiteh.

 
  • What negotiations are ongoing in NAPSA trial
The counsel for the three executive members of the pro-government student body, the National Patriotic Student Association (NAPSA), Combeh Gaye Cooker has said that negotiations are ongoing.
At least, this was what lawyer Mr Badou Conteh who was holding brief for Combeh Gaye Cooker told the court on Monday, however, he failed to state exactly what negotiations he was referring to.
“Negotiations are ongoing and if it materializes, we will communicate with the prosecution,” he said. His statement was vague and it is not clear whether the defence is seeking a settlement of the matter out of court.
However, the police prosecutor Sergeant Manga said the prosecution is not aware of any negotiations and even if there was any negotiation, should that stop them from proceeding with the case.
His arguments followed Mr Conteh’s application for an adjournment on grounds that negotiations are in progress. “The case has suffered three adjournments at the instance of the defence, and I had a witness for the case to proceed in court,” the prosecutor argued before adding: “Your worship the court should take judicial notice that this is a criminal trial, and it could not be adjourned without any tangible reason.” 
Magistrate Taiwo in his ruling said the court could not adjourn the case as it is a criminal trial and called on the prosecution to proceed.
In his evidence, Almamy Touray, a police officer told the court that in April 2011, he was part of a panel that investigated the NAPSA Executive Funding of the NAPSA Congress.
He said during the course of the investigations, he obtained voluntary statements from the 1st accused (Denis T. Gomez), two voluntary statements from the 3rd accused (Jarga E. Gaye) and one voluntary statement from Babucarr Jallow (2nd accused).
He said before obtaining the statements, he read the cautionary wordings to all of them and they agreed with the charge and sign on it in the presence of an independent witness, Sulayman Sowe, who also appends his signature to it.
The statement were tendered in court and marked as exhibits. The case at this juncture was adjourned till 5 July 2011. Babucarr Jallow, Denis T. Gomez and Jara  E. Gaye (all of whom are executive members of NAPSA) are standing trial on three counts of “Conspiracy to commit felony, forgery, and uttering false document” at the Banjul Magistrates Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade. They have since denied any wrong doing.


  • UN High Level Meeting Ends, NASO President Discuses Achievements
Mr. Ahmad Jaagan Loum
United Nation General Assembly’s High Level Meeting on Universal Access and Human Rights on HIV/AIDS has noted the countries that had high HIV epidemic infection rate have been able to cut their transmission between 20 to 25 percent of infection.
This is a possible sign for achieving universal access and human right for people living with the HIV virus, according to the President of the Network of Aids Services Organisation (NASO), Mr. Ahmad Jaagan Loum, who was speaking to this paper upon his return from the meeting in New York, USA from June 8-10, 2011.
Mr Loum, who was among five delegates from The Gambia, said the meeting accords them the opportunity to realise that in some parts of the world, new infections of HIV/AIDS are reducing while the number of people going in for the anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs has doubled the number new infections. “One of the biggest achievements is the scientific discovery that early treatment of AIDS can help prevent transmitting the virus,” he said.
“This means if you are HIV/AIDS positive and you went for HIV treatment early, you will not able to transmit the virus to another partner. It also indicates that the treatment is acting as prevention for HIV/AIDS.”
According to him, the meeting also discuses main areas of zero new infection, zero AIDS related death and zero stigma and discrimination. Stigma and discrimination is the biggest obstacle facing the achievement of universal access and human rights, he argued.
Mr Loum further revealed that a technological portable CD4 count machine was unveiled at the meeting, it is meant for measuring CD4 count for people living with the virus.
“This portable CD4 machine can be used at all community levels and it does not necessarily mean it have to be administered by a health expert,” he said.
He also noted that at the end of the meeting, the international community agreed that more funds need to be mobilized to finance the advocacy and the fight against the epidemic; which will require more treatment methods, more condoms, avoid new infections and the search for a vaccine.
He noted that a political declaration was made at the end of the General Assembly and few countries and institution made their reservation. This declaration outlined that stigma and discrimination remains a challenge. However, he said programmes have been lined up to tackle this problem.
The biannual High Level Meeting of the UN Assembly was initiated in 2001, and was referred to as The UN General Assembly Special Session. The 2011 high level meeting in New York was basically meant to review the progress and the challenges that the international respond by communities around the continent have made in relation to Universal Access on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights.

  • Lamin Mboge continues his defence
Former Magistrate Lamin K. Mboge on June 20 continues his defence at the Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade.
The former magistrate, who is now working as a private lawyer, is standing trial on three counts of “making false document without authority, false swearing, and uttering false documents”. He has since pleaded not guilty to the allegation leveled against him.
On Monday, he told the court that he introduced Saikou Barrow, the 4th witness to court process server in order to go and serve the other party, however, he lamented that Saikou went and he did not hear from him.
He said Saikou Barrow later called him, and told him he taught exhibit A was for eviction, but he said what Saikou saw on the motion was an affidavit which he did not sign. He said the affidavit must go along with a motion.
Mboge said Saikou asked him to go ahead with the motion and on the following day, Saikou called the honorable Minister of Justice about the issue, that is, the motion that he (Mboge) has filed.
He said later on, Saikou called him and told him that he and his father are not going to court again about the issue and he asked him to withdrawn the motion. “I told him the motion is dated and I cannot withdraw it now from there, he went to the police for declaration and told the police that Mboge has filed a false affidavit. Saikou then told me to go with him to the Minister for directives and I refused to go because he is not in charge of the case,” he said.
“I told him that I will go to the minister whenever I need his advice, and I received a call from the Banjul police station informing me that Saikou has lodged a complaint that I had made a false affidavit.”
Mboge said he also called the justice Minister to inform him that Saikou had reported the matter to the police and the minister told me to return Saikou’s case file which he did. The case continues on 27 June 2011.


  • HePDO train RCH staff on Long Lasting Nets Distribution
The Health Promotion and Development Organization (HePDO) yesterday gathered 46 RCH staff (nurses) from various public and private health facilities in The Gambia to train them on Long Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) distribution.
RCH staff at public and private health facilities work very closely with pregnant women, children under one year and the general population, and HePDO said their training on LLIN distribution at health facilities will help easily to reach the targeted beneficiaries.
The two-day training (June 22-23), held at the office of the Association of Non-Governmental Organisations in The Gambia (TANGO), is aimed at enabling participants understand the distribution process from the warehouse to the target beneficiary; accurate and proper documentation of nets distributed; and for the participants to learn about the new distribution strategy.
Speaking at the opening on Wednesday, Pa Ousman Sowe, the Acting Director HePDO noted that the distribution of nets is not new to them. “We will continue giving bednets to pregnant women, children under one year and the general public,” he said while counting on the support of the trainees in the distribution process. “It is very important to sleep under a bed net,” he adds.
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Head of Programme Ebrima Jarju noted that the CRS is one of the “Principal Recipient of the Global Fund Round 9 Grant” responsible for “Behavioural Change Communication” and the distribution of “Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs)” in The Gambia.
While urging the participants to take the training seriously, he stressed that they should make sure that they keep proper and accurate records of distributed nets within their health facilities.
He charges them to keeps records of the beneficiaries information in their distribution registers and commends them for willing to work with them. “It is our responsibility to help pregnant women not to contact malaria,” he said.

  • Ensa Badjie questions Musa Susso on ‘dead bull’
Badjie AKA 'Jesus'
Erstwhile Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie has questioned witness Musa Susso whether David Colley, the Prison Director was prosecuted for giving a death bulls to prisoners.
Badjie, who is charged along side a former senior police prosecutor Tijan Badjie was cross-examining the prosecution 4th witness, Musa Susso on June 22 at Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade.
The two have pleaded not-guilty to charges of “Conspiracy to defeat justice, interfering with witness, abusive of office, destroying of evidence and deceiving witness”.
Responding to Badjie’s question, Musa Susso, the former Kombo North Member of Parliament, said he is not the authority and whether David Colley is prosecuted, or is to be prosecuted that is left to people concerned, because he knows that all the information he gave concerning the dead bull is the truth.
Badjie’s lawyer Lamin K Mboge withdrew from the case last week for reasons best known to him and now he has no council.
Still under cross examination, Musa Susso said he gave a statement to the head of the panel, Ensa Badjie but denies been recorded by Burama Dibba and Benedict Jammeh since he never knew that their conservation was been recorded until the tape was tendered in court.
At this point, Ensa Badjie applied to the court for the prosecution to produce the recorded cassette. “If the prosecution did not produce it, I will produce it. Tendering this cassette will prove whether I am part of the panel or not,” he said.
Susso said he taken to Badjie’s office in 2007 in connection with an alleged Sim card found in his prison cell. He noted that his conviction on allegations of drugs is not a matter before the court now, though he admitted being convicted twice, the first in 2001, and pardon by the President in 2007.
“Am putting it to you that the pardon was revoked and you were rearrested,” Badjie said. Musa replied: “That is not true, Major Crime Unit contacted GAMTEL and a print out was done to confirm that I was talking to my wife and daughter for which they were call for interrogation.”
Badjie admitted forming a panel of investigators in 2008 after Musa Susso was rearrested for giving false information. Am putting it to you that all what you are saying in this court are all lies even the patriotic citizens of this country knows that, Badjie said.
However, Musa Susso maintained that he has no cause to lies against any one and all what he said is the truth.
Badjie put it to him that he was called to head the panel when Burama Dibba was arrested by State Security. That was in 2008 and I never convinced you to give evidence against Burama Dibba as it was mention on count four.
Musa reiterated that said all what he said in the record is the truth and he have no cause to lies against anyone. The case continues on 29 June 2011.

  • Maahad holds 3rd speech and prize-giving ceremony
Maahad Senior Secondary School recently held its 3rd Speech and Prize-giving Ceremony at Brikama Jamisa, Western region of The Gambia.
Speaking at the ceremony, Principal Mr. Lamin Bojang described Maahad as a great and imposing in the educational sector of the country as a result of what he called “a wonderful contribution since 2001.”
According to him, the school has consistently produced and will continue to produce worthy student who will occupy key positions not only in The Gambia but also on the global context.
“The rapid expansion of basic and secondary education over the years in this country is another strong indication that educational pursuit is a top priority for government and community. Therefore the input if every stakeholder is a prerequisite if The Gambia is to catch-up with the rest of the world through the achievement of vision 2020 and the MDGs.”
He said at the beginning of the 2010/11 academic year, a total 1150 (570 boys and 580 girls) student are currently enrolled, with an increase of 190 compared to the previous year.
He said the continued increase in the enrolment of students is due to the trust and confidence the parents and community have for the school. The academic performance of our students in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) 2010 deserved some commendation. Of 187 candidates, only four students could not get a single pass. The rest were awarded with certificates. 
He also noted that the School is faced with numerous challenges as in lack of electricity, water, and a school library.
He finally said of the students: “I have a strong conviction that they have been in the school for the past years equipped with the required information and molding to go out and excel in life.”  
Mr. Yusupha Touray, a guest speaker said: “We have a society to keep in place, a new redefined society and of course a family to bring up. We call this order, peace and tranquility.”
“Do we need to ask at this stage what role do I play in national development, how can my education be translated into my society, how far do we need to go with this process we call schooling, before we are able to manipulate the already existing or entrapped body of experience, I am not sure if we can attain that at Grade 12.”
Notwithstanding, he said numerous opportunities have been created by the State to go further higher. “Our past is very important to us. Do we as Africans cerebrate independence, or walk, talk and dress and behave like those who conquered our fore-fathers, would we be cerebrating if they were accorded the opportunity we now.”
The Ex-students Association of Maahad Senior Secondary School was established on 7 January 2010 with a number of 300 active members. It PRO, Sambou Sanneh said the association aims to inspire academic performance, to promote mutual understanding among the students and teachers and also to be actively involved in all extra-curricular activities such as cleaning exercises, sport and drama.
Mr. Sambou noted that financial shortfall is one of the major problems the faces the Association, saying the support rendered to the school came as a result of their personal contributions as an Association. “We are calling for support,” he said.

  • Police officer testifies in Badjie’s trial on abuse of office
Bakary Saho, a police officer has opened his testimony in the trial of ex Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ensa Badjie on 22nd June 2011 at the Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade.
Badjie is standing trial on one count of abusive of office at the lower court in Banjul, a charge he vehemently denied and described as malicious.
In his evident in chief, Corporal Bakary Saho, attached to the Motor Traffic Unit told the court that the accused person is his former boss and he knew Baka Drammeh in 2009 when he was posted at the Senegambia Junction.
Saho said he was with First Class Nyally when Baka drives pass in his vehicle while using a mobile phone and at the same time he was not using a seat belt. Saho said after a brief confrontation, Nyally demanded top see Baka’s driver’s documents but he was not coping.
He was later arrested, his papers seized and he was taken to the Tourist Security Unit (TSU) nearby. He said while he was arranging for Baka to be taken to the police station, he (Baka) was busy on his phone and suddenly hand over the phone to the officer commanding TSU, Captain Lamin Fatty to speak to someone.
He said Captain Fatty told him that it was the IGP, Badjie who was asking him to let go Baka immediately. I asked Fatty whether he explained everything that Baka did. Captain Fatty responded that he will release him because it is the IGP that said it.
Cross examination
Badjie told Saho that he never gave instructions to Captain Fatty to release Baka. Saho said it was Captain Fatty who told him that his boss said let him release him immediately.
Badjie put it him that Fatty was sacked in the Gambia Armed Forces as a result of his assault on Corporal Colley, a police officer.
“Am putting it to you that Baka testifies in this court and said when he called me I told him that I have no business and it was the same thing I said to captain Lamin Fatty,” Badjie said but Saho replied that he did not know because he did not spoke to Badjie, it was Captain Fatty who told him. The trial continues on 29 June 2011.


  • Sports Ministry boosts regional coordinators 
Minister Sheriff Gomez
On Monday, 20 June 2011, at the Independence Stadium in Banjul, the Ministry of Youth and Sports handed over five motor bicycles to Regional Sport Coordinators in The Gambia in order to help ease their additional task of managing youth farms across the country.  
Speaking at the presentation, Mr. Sheriff Gomez, the Minister, noted that the Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, last week gave seven farm machines and 400 bags of fertilizer to the ministry.
He urges the regional farm coordinators to handle the materials with good care and make the best of them.
The Director of Youth and Sports Mr Malang Jassey commended the Child Fund for their support. “Government cannot do it all alone, we approached child fund and they offered to support us by giving us one motor bicycle and the other four came from the government through the ministry”.
The youth farm coordinators of the West Coast, North Bank, Upper River, Central River and Lower River regions received the motor bikes meant for monitoring youth farms across the country.

  • Courtesy of The Voice Newspaper, Banjul

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