Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Gambia Jails Former Government Officials

In August, The Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh had vowed never to forgive the three former top officials of his government (Photo credit: Seyllou/AFP/Nov2011)
The Gambia has jailed to two years three former government officials on Thursday after a Special Criminal Court found them guilty of conspiracy, giving false information and abuse of office.

They are Lamin Jobarteh, former attorney general and minister of justice, Pa Harry Jammeh, former solicitor general and legal secretary, and Njogu Bah former secretary general and head of the civil service and minister of presidential affairs.

Charges against the three originate from accusations that the they conspired among themselves between January and February 2013 to remove Justice Joseph Wowo, who was at the time,  President of The Gambia Court of Appeal.

On December 19, Justice Emmanuel Nkea, presiding, ruled that the three orchestrated Wowo’s arrest, ordered for his detention and as well masterminded a mock trial against the Nigerian.

They have earlier denied the charges brought against them by the state.

Justice Emmanuel Nkea, presiding, ruled that the three orchestrated Joseph Wowo’s arrest, ordered for his detention and as well masterminded a mock trial against the Nigerian (Photo: The Point)
“There is abundant evidence, both oral and documentary, from the accused persons themselves, that they held a few meetings at State House where the removal, arrest and prosecution of Justice Wowo was discussed and agreed,” Nkea said while delivering the judgement.

He said Wowo was not only removed from office as a Justice of Appeal and President of The Gambia Court of Appeal, but was also arrested, detained, charge and prosecuted.

“Therefore, I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case with the certainty required by law on counts 1 and 3 and the accused persons are accordingly convicted as charge,” Nkea said.

Justice Nkea said he have carefully listened to the what he called “very touching pleas for leniency” moved by the respective counsels on behalf of the convicts. He said he agreed that a long custodial sentence would inflict further hardship on their respective families.

But he said the society looks up to these former officials for direction on the law, and that the institutions of State relied on them for legal and professional advice.

“All the convicts had the onerous duty to uphold the law at all times. They faltered in this respect. It is these special circumstances that have tied my hands,” he said.

“I will therefore exercise my sentencing discretion judiciously. And in doing so, I find it fit to sentence each of the accused persons to two years imprisonment on each count. The sentences must however run concurrently,” Nkea conluded.

This story first appeared on Front Page International (FPI)

Written by Modou S. Joof

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