31 December 2012

Gambia: Ex-GPA MD Arraigned

Abdoulie Tambedou, the former managing director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), was on Friday arraigned before the Banjul Magistrates' Court, presided over by Magistrate Momodou M.S Jallow, charged with giving false information to a public servant, contrary to Section 114 (a) of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 Volume III, Laws of The Gambia 2009.

The particulars of the offence revealed that the accused on the 13th of August, 2012 in the city of Banjul, wrote a letter with the reference number GPA\MD\(1) to the Office of the President, alleging that indiscipline is been meted out to him by associates and relatives of his predecessor Momodou Lamin Gibba by way of making derogatory remarks towards him and the GPA management with the intent to make the GPA ungovernable for him, an information he knew was false.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge levelled against him by the prosecution, and the police prosecutor Sergeant Manga applied for an adjournment to enable him call his witnesses, and for the accused be remanded in prison custody, advancing reasons that the accused if granted bail will tamper with the evidence of the prosecution.

He argued that the accused was the managing director of GPA and served GPA for a very long time, so if granted bail chances will be huge for him to influence the witnesses he wished to call from the GPA. Manga added that the accused may even use his influence in society to flee the jurisdiction.

The accused person, while responding to the application of the prosecution, told the court that he was informed of the said charge since 27th August, 2012 and was given police bail where he even left four of his valid and invalid passports plus two title deeds of valuable properties within the Greater Banjul Area.

He added that the offence he is charged with is bailable and based on facts the prosecution should make better use of the prison particularly the Remand Wing for capital offences and not for cases involving charges like false information. He said that he served the GPA for 24 years with dedication and excellent service and being a chartered and professional accountant the integrity of his profession will not allow him to jump bail if granted.

At that juncture, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara entered the court room and announced his representation for the accused person and further apologised to the court for coming late and that he was taking over from the accused on the issue of bail.

Camara said the accused has the right to bail both under Section 19 of the Constitution and Section 99 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which he said gives the court the power and discretion to grant bail to accused persons charged with any offence except in offences where the charge gives a punishment of life imprisonment or death by the offence, which is not the case in this matter.

According to him, the charge of giving false information is a misdemeanour and therefore the accused has the right to bail subject to the discretion of the court and the prosecution has to bring facts before the court, to warrant the denial of bail and not just by saying they are still investigating. He said that the accused will not tamper with witnesses because in the case of the accused he has been under police bail for 4 months. Camara finally said that if investigation into the matter was not completed the case would not have been brought to court.

The presiding magistrate in his ruling, granted the accused bail in the sum of D1M or two title deeds with two Gambian sureties who shall swear to an affidavit of means and leave their national identity cards with the court.

Hearing continues on the 2nd January 2013.

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