Thursday, July 21, 2011

Former GPU President Handed Treason Charges in Absentia

Ndey Tapha Sosseh, erstwhile GPU President


Other news…
  • Daily Observer Editor Testifies Against the Former
  • Senior Official of Finance Ministry Charged with Economic Crime
  • Court Exonerates Inspector Buba Touray of Drug Charge
  • Erstwhile IGP Trial Scheduled For Judgment 
  • GAMCOTRAP Trial: Defence remain firm on not-guilty plea
  • Narcotic Officer Denies Planting Drugs in Hotel Manager’s Car









Former GPU President Handed Treason Charges in Absentia
Dr. Janneh and Co pleaded not guilty
The State has proffered treason charges against the erstwhile President of the Gambia Press Union, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, on Tuesday.
Ms Sosseh, who is the Secretary General of the pressure group Coalition for Change, has been living in the West African State of Mali in self-imposed exile since 2009, she is charged alongside former Information Minister Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, Mathew K. Jallow, a US-based Gambian journalist and President of Coalition for Change, Famara Demba, Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow and Michael C. Uche Thomas.
While Ms Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow and Famara Demba are all out of the jurisdiction of the Court, Dr Janneh, Ebrima Jallow, Modou Keita and Michael C. Uche Thomas denied the charges of “Conspiracy to commit treason, treason and seditious act” brought against them by the State.
They took their plea on July 19 at the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in the Capital Banjul, presided by Justice Joseph Enwa Ikpala. They are accused of unlawfully planning to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by printing and distributing T-Shirts with the inscription: “Coalition for Change The Gambia; End Dictatorship Now”.
The quartet, who were in detention at the State’s Maximum Security Wing, Mile II since May 2011, appeared at the Banjul Magistrate Court before Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade on June 14.
However, they did not take their plea at the time as Magistrate Taiwo ordered for the case to be moved to the High Court on the grounds that the District Court lacks the Jurisdiction to try treason suspects.
On Tuesday, The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution S. H. Barkun applied for an adjournment, after the accused persons has pleaded not-guilty, defence Counsel Lamin S. Camara made no objection and his application was subsequently granted.  
The hearing is scheduled to continue on October 13, 2011.

Dr Janneh, erstwhile Information Minmister
Charges

Count one: Conspiracy to commit treason, Contrary to Section 35 (1) (g) of the Criminal Code Cap 10 Volume III Laws of The Gambia 2009, while the particulars of offence state that Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh on or about the 26th May 2011 in diverse places in the Republic of The Gambia and elsewhere, conspired with Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow, Famara Demba and others at large to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by unlawful means and thereby committed an offence.

Count two: Treason Contrary to Section 35 (1) (a) Criminal Code Cap 10 Volume III Laws of The Gambia 2009. The particulars of offence state that Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, Ndey Tapha Sosseh, Mathew K. Jallow, Famara Demba at large on or about the 26th May 2011 in diverse places in the Republic of The Gambia and elsewhere prepared to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by unlawful means and thereby committed an offence.
Count three: Seditious act Contrary to Section 52 (a) of the Criminal Code 10 Volume III Laws of The Gambia 2009. The particulars of offence state that Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow, and Michael C. Uche Thomas and others at large on or about the 26th May 2011 in diverse places in the Republic of The Gambia conspire amongst themselves to print and distribute 100 T- Shirt with carrying seditious statements to wit: coalition for change The Gambia, end dictatorship now and thereby committed an offence.
Count four: Seditious act Contrary to Section 52 (1) (c) of the Criminal Code Cap 10 Volume III Laws of The Gambia 2009. The particular of offence indicated that Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, Modou Keita, Ebrima Jallow, and Michael C. Uche Thomas and others at large on or about the 26th May 2011 in diverse places in the Republic of The Gambia with intent to cause or bring into hatred, contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President or the Government of The Gambia printed and distributed 100 T- Shirt with carrying seditious statements to wit: coalition for change The Gambia, end dictatorship now and thereby committed and offence.


Nanama Okocha Keita
·       Daily Observer Editor Testifies Against the Former
Alhagie Jobe, the Deputy Editor-In-Chief and Head of the Editorial Department of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper on Tuesday opened his testimony against the paper’s former Sports Editor Nanama Okocha Keita.
Keita, who is charged with “giving false information” to a public officer is being tried at the Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade. He has since pleaded not-guilty.
On July 19, Alhagie Jobe, the 1st prosecution witness, told the court that a vehicle with the number plate: Observer 2, was brought to the office on April 21, 2011 for use by the Editorial Department and since he was the head of the department, the paper’s Managing Director Pa Malick Faye entrusted the vehicle to him.
Upon the arrival of the vehicle, Jobe said he, along with Pa Malick Faye, Mr Keita (accused), the paper’s mechanic and the vehicle owned had a meeting at the Director’s office. The meeting followed the testing of the vehicle bought for the Editorial Department, he said. 
According to Jobe, later in the night, Managing Director Faye called to tell him that the editor of an online US-base newspaper “Freedom” has called him, claiming that he brought a vehicle for himself and alleged him of financial mismanagement.
“At the very night the managing director called for a meeting attended by Assan Sallah, the news editor, the marketing manager, and the production manager. He said the accused, Mr. Keita did not attend.
At the second meeting, Pa Malick told them that the article was sent to him by a friend of his in United States, Jobe said, adding that Pa Malick called Mr Keita (accused person) and an Information Technology Experts conducted a search on Keita’s computer.
When the search was conducted on the computer, a latest search in Google was shown, indicating how many times Keita had browsed the “Freedom Newspaper”, the witness explains.
He adds that “the latest search shows that the accused person was looking for freedom newspaper’s email and contact number. At the spot, the Managing Director ordered the confiscation of the computer and what followed was a probe by State Security Agents on alleged financial mismanagement.
According to Jobe, the accused was sacked later in May 2011 and he (the accused) subsequently wrote a letter to the Office of the President for wrongful dismissal. An investigation was launched and the accused person was charged with “given false information”. Hearing continues on August 4 and 8, 2011.        
                  

·       Senior Official of Finance Ministry Charged with Economic Crime
The lower Court in Banjul presided by Acting Principal Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade yesterday ordered for the transfer of the “economic crime charge” brought against the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Sereign Cham by the police.
Taiwo ruled that the District Court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain allegations of economic crime and decided to move the case to the High Court in Banjul, which he said has the exclusive jurisdiction to entertain such matters.
He also ordered for the accused, Mr Cham to be remanded in custody at the State’s Central Prison, Mile II until he is arraigned at the High Court.
The Permanent Secretary was arraigned and charged with one Count of Economic Crime at the Banjul Magistrate Court on July 19, 2011. He is yet to take his plea and he was not represented by a counsel.
Statements of offence: Economic Crime Specific offence Contrary to Section 5 (1) of the Criminal Code Cap 13:07 Volume III Laws of The Gambia 2009. The particulars of offence stated that Sereign Cham on or about 20 May 2011 at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs at Quadrangle in the city of Banjul in the Republic of The Gambia, being employee in public service by virtue of his position as a permanent secretary and chairman land and sales committee, he unlawfully and willing fully authorized the sale of a developed plot of land at Kanifing East to himself at D250, 000.00 on loan when the estimated value of the said property is D1, 500, 000.00 causing losses to the Government of The Gambia, thereby committed an offence.


·       Court Exonerates Inspector Buba Touray of Drug Charge
 “The prosecution has failed woefully to make a case against Inspector Buba Touray and I hereby acquitted and discharge the accused person,” ruled the Acting Principal Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade of the District Court in Banjul.
In a five-minute judgment on an allegation of being in possession of prohibited drug for the purpose of trafficking, brought against Inspector Touray by the police in Banjul, Magistrate Ade said yesterday, that “it is the opinion of this court that the prosecution has fail to establish a case against Inspector Buba Touray.” 
He noted that the accused pleaded not guilty to the charge. He also noted that the prosecution called three witnesses and tendered three bundles of cannabis sativa as exhibits.
However, he noted that the accused had maintained that it was a setup as sooner had he received an unknown man in his house than personnel of the National Drug Enforcement Agency arrived, and the man ran away, leaving a bag containing cannabis.
Magistrate Ade said the 3rd defence witness; a daughter to the accused told the Court that she was laundering when an unknown man came in the compound and told her that he wanted to see Inspector Touray.
Defence witness 3 said she went and told her father that someone wanted to see him but her father told her that the man should wait for few minutes so he could undress. However, the man get inside the house with a bag and an officer subsequently came in and put her father under arrest as the man ran away leaving behind his bag.
According to defence witness 3, officers chased the man and eventually caught him but the man gave the officers money and they released him and told them that man is a security officer, Magistrate Taiwo explained.
He said the accused person’s evidence and that of the defence witnesses all corroborate, while noting that the unknown man could be have been material to the court but he never appeared to give evidence before the court.
“It is the opinion of this court that the prosecution has fail to establish a case against Inspector Buba Touray and I hereby acquitted and discharge him,” Taiwo ruled.
Mr. Touray was charged to court in February 2011 and remanded in the custody of the NDEA. He was being represented by human rights lawyer Assan Martin.


The embattled former IGP, Ensa Badjie (Jesus)
·       Erstwhile IGP Trial Scheduled For Judgment 
The Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul presided by Justice Joseph Enwa Ikpala has slated July 29 as the date for judgment in the trial involving Ex-Inspector General of Police Ensa Badjie and Prison Officer Assistant Superintendent of Prison Ali Ceesay.
Badjie and Ceesay are charged with fifteen counts of conspiracy to commit felony; robbery with violence; receiving stolen property; aiding or abetting prisoners to escape from lawful custody; official corruption among others. They have since May 21, 2010 pleaded not guilty.
On July 14, 2011, defence Counsel Mr. Borry Touray was to file his address of the Court, however, he informed the court that he would want to be given more room to file his written address to court.
However, the Acting Director of Public Prosecution S. H. Barhum objected to the defence, and reminded the Court that it was agreed at the last adjourned date that their will be no extension of time if defence failed to file its address on Thursday. “No matter how powerful the address is, it cannot amount to evidence”, he said, while urging the court to dismiss the defence proposal.
When he took his turn, Justice Joseph Enwa Ikpala, presiding, asked the defence if they have filed their address when the case was called for conformation, but the defence replied in the negative.
“The prosecutor S. H. Barhum urged me to proceed with the judgment and I totally agree with the prosecution and I hereby over-ruled the defence application and adjourned the case till 29th July 2011 for judgment,” Ikpala ruled.

Not-guilty plea
Ex-IGP Ensa Badjie and Prison Officer ASP Ali Ceesay were first arraigned in court on May 21, 2010 and charged with 15 counts, among them, robbery with violence, corruption, conspiracy to commit felony, and aiding prisoners to escape from lawful custody.
Their co-accused person Ismaila Colley, Kemeseng Colley and Omar Jahateh had their charges dropped by the court at the initial stages of the trial. The later, Omar Jahateh, a police prosecutor at the time, fled the country.
The prosecution has called 17 witnesses during the course of the trial, among them, convict Soriba Conteh; Modou Sillah; Pateh Jallow, former Director of National Drug Enforcement Agency; Muhammed Darboe, a convict, Fatou Joto Mendy; Tony Baba Khan, Proprietor of City Pub; Dodou Janneh, a convict; Abdoulie Sowe, a police officer; and Landing Bojang, also a police officer.
The defence also called a few witnesses to prove their case.    


Dr Touray (R) and Co-accused Mrs Bojang (L)
·       GAMCOTRAP Trial: Defence remain firm on not-guilty plea
When the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray opened her defence on July 15, she stood firm on the conviction that her institution has never stolen 30, 000 euros from their Madrid-based partners, Yolocamba Solidaridad.
Dr. Touray and Amie Bojang Sissoho, Programme Coordinator the Gambia Committee Against Harmful Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP) are charged by Gambian police on one count of theft before Nigerian Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade of the Banjul Magistrate Court. They denied any wrong.
On Friday, July 15, Dr. Touray a Human Rights Activist and a native of Brikama Nyambai said her institution has a status in society.
Her counsel Amie Bensouda applied to tender the status of the institution as an exhibit, but prosecutor Sainey Joof objected to it, arguing that the document is only labeled “GAMCOTRAP”, and that he did not know who the author is. “The defence did not lay any proper foundation,” he adds.
The defence quickly said it was withdrawing the application in order to lay the proper foundation.
A Doctorate Degree holder in Gender and Development Studies, Dr. Touray noted that GAMCOTRAP is a women rights organization aimed at eliminating harmful traditional practices such as early marriage, female genital mutilation amongst others.
According to her, GAMCOTRAP was established in 1984 and their status is the Constitution.
Counsel Bensouda applied to tender the status again and this time it was admitted and marked as Defence Exhibit 7.
GAMCOTRAP is a registered with the Attorney general Chambers as a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and a member of the Association of Non- Governmental Organisation (TANGO).
And Dr Touray, who is the founder, said she volunteered for GAMCOTRAP for 17 years on gender expertise and after she retired from government service in 2005, she takes up the position of Executive Director.
She also noted that the Women’s Bureau is the national machinery representing the women of The Gambia, while GAMCOTRAP is a specialized Committee under Bureau which is working on an end to harmful traditional practices in the country.
You are both charged with theft of 30, 000 Euros from Yolocamba Solidaridad, how you came in contact with Yolocamba, asked defence counsel Bensouda.
Dr Touray said: “GAMCOTRAP has never stolen any amount of Euro 30, 000 from Yolocamba and have never seen an amount like that from Yolocamba.”
 “We met Yolocamba through two sisters Patrica and Cris from Spain who frequently visit The Gambia. They visited us at our office and told us that they are following our activities from the newspapers and the internet and that we are doing a good job,” she explains.
“They told us that they came to congratulate us for the good job we are doing.”
However, prosecutor Joof raised an objection, arguing that the witness’s position is hearsay and that the court should expunge that part of the testimony from the records.
But counsel Bensouda disagreed. She said the witness is narrating what has transpired and that cannot tantamount to hearsay.
In his ruling, Magistrate Taiwo overrule objection of the prosecution.
Dr Touray continued that they have a meeting with Patrica and Cris and who asked how they can help GAMCOTRAP to continue the good work they are doing. 
“I told them that we will send you a proposal for you to help us find donors in Spain to eliminate female genital mutilation, and after sending that, they told us that if the donors accept our proposal we will hear from them,” she said.
“Later, we were informed that our proposal has been accepted by Yolocamba Solidaridad and were able to hear from Yolocamba’s Treasurer, Sussay.” 
The case continues on August 1 and 3, 2011.


Ocean Bay Hotel, Cape Point, Bakau, Gambia
·       Narcotic Officer Denies Planting Drugs in Hotel Manager’s Car
Thai is not true, Narcotic Officer Njaga O. Jatta said after defence counsel Kebba Jatta alleged that he masterminded the planting of cannabis into the Ocean Bay Hotel Manager’s vehicle.
While under cross-examination on Friday, Jatta said he received information from an informant on April 19, 2011 that Mr Juergen Odenwald was peddling drugs and he effect his arrest on April 23.
Defence counsel Sanyang put it to him that having the information on April 19 and effecting arrest on April 23 means he did not inform anyone and have failed woefully in his duties.
“Am putting it to you that you receive no information that the Ocean Bay Manager’s Vehicle is peddling drugs and you are the one who masterminded the plan to put the drugs in the car,” Sanyang said. “That is not true,” Jatta replied.
Mr Juergen Odenwald is standing trial on one count of being in possession of two parcels of cannabis sativa, a prohibited drug, at the Banjul Magistrate Court presided by Magistrate Alagbe Taiwo Ade. He has since pleaded not-guilty to the charge brought against him by the National Drug Enforcement Agency, the NDEA.
Njaga O. Jatta, Station Officer for the NDEA at Bundung on July 15, 2011 explained that when he arrived at the Bakau Police station, he was assisted by two officers, Yahya Jatta and Lamin F. Camara to reinforce for the arrest of Mr Odenwald.
Njaga, who is the 1st prosecution witness, however, argued that he has no relations the officers, but noted that he found no NDEA officer upon his arrival at the Bakau Police station.
Counsel Sanyang asked Jatta, how many officer works under him at the Bundung NDEA, but the Chief Prosecutor for the NDEA Mr Raymond Jarju objected to this question for what he called “security reasons”. You don’t ask the strength of the security, he said.
However, Magistrate Taiwo overruled his objection and ordered the witness to answer the question.
Then Jatta said he have five officers working under him. Why do you not inform the station officer of Bakau, because Bakau is nearer to Ocean Bay Hotel? Asked Sanyang. Jatta replied that NDEA Officers have no boundaries in executing their duties and can effect arrest anywhere. Hearing continues on 29th July, 2011.



·       Masade: I Find Customers For Sillaba to Purchase Drugs
The 6th Prosecution Witness in the 51-Count trial involving the erstwhile Police Chief Ensa Badjie and two others has revealed he did find customers for alleged drug dealer Sillaba Samateh.
“I asked Sunny Boy to find customers for Sillaba Samateh to purchase drugs,” he said.
Mr. Eidrish Masade was being cross-examined by Defence Counsel Borry S. Touray on Friday July 15 at the High Court in Banjul presided by Justice Emmanuel Amadi.
The erstwhile Police Chief Ensa Badjie, Major Kuluteh Manneh and Lt. Col. Mam Matarr Secka are standing trial on 51 counts, including corruption, abuse of office among others. They have denied the charges brought against them by the State.  
Asked whether the statement he (Masade) made at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) did mention that he gave $14000 to Sillaba Samateh to be given to Ensa Badjie. Mr Masade denies mentioning anything like that in the statement, but admitted that the statement was his and it caries his signature. 
At this point, Borry S. Touray applied to tender the statement as an exhibit, but the presiding Judge rejected it, on grounds that the witness denied mentioning “$14000” in his statement so it cannot be used as evidence in court.
Nonetheless, Touray informed the court that he has in possession the statements made by the witness at the Kotu Police station, Banjul Police Headquarter and that of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) which he wanted to tender as an exhibit in order to prove the incredibility of the witness.
“I did not mention in my statement in Kotu Police station that Sillaba Samateh gave Ensa Badjie $14000 in my presence, because the police man who took my statement said I talk too much,” Mr. Eidrish told the court.
Mr Eidrish also told the court that the voices of the people on the tape record in exhibit A are Sillaba Samateh, Ousman Bojang, Lands Corporal Amadou Jammeh, Nima Ceesay, Charles Okeke, Pa Boy Samateh (Sillaba’s son), himself  and one of Sillaba Samateh Assistant whom he cannot remember his name.
Hearing continues on Monday July 18, 2011.
  • Source: The Voice Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

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