The Point (Banjul)

Gambia: Ex-GPA MD Tambedou Arraigned, Charged

Police prosecutors Friday brought a charge of giving false information to a public officer against Abdoulie Tambedou, former Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), at the Banjul Magistrates' Court before senior Magistrate M.S. Jallow.

According to the particulars of offence, Abdoulie Tambedou, on 13 August 2012 in Banjul within the jurisdiction of the court, wrote a petition letter with reference number GPA/MD (1) to the Office of the President, alleging that indiscipline was being meted out to him by the associates and relatives of his predecessor, Momodou Lamin Gibba, by way of making derogatory remarks towards him and the GPA management with intent to make the GPA ungovernable for him, and that information he knew to be false at the time.

Police prosecutor, Sergeant Manga, told the court that the police brought the matter just to be mentioned and that they were applying for an adjournment to enable them call their witnesses.

He added that the prosecution was applying for the accused person to be remanded in prison custody on the grounds that if granted bail, he might tamper with the investigation.

Sergeant Manga further stated that most of the witnesses who the prosecution intended to call were employees of the Gambia Ports Authority, where the accused person had been the managing director for a very long time.

He said the second reason was that the accused person might jump bail even if the court ordered his travel documents to be seized and be deposited before the court.

"The accused person might not need the passport to flee out of the jurisdiction. Therefore, we urge the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the prosecution to remand the accused person in custody," the prosecutor told the court.

In response, the accused person told the court that he had earlier told the court that before taking his plea, he wanted to reserve his comments until when his lawyer was in court.

"I was duly informed about this charge since August 2012, which was nearly over 4 months ago. I have never been absent even for a single day to report to the police," Mr Tambedou said.

The police were having four of his passports, both valid and invalid ones, he said, noting that the police also had two of his title deeds situated within the Greater Banjul Area.

Mr Tambedou further submitted that considering the 4 months then, if he wanted to jump bail, he would have done so long since, but the integrity of his job would not make him to jump bail because of a mere false information charge.

"I have worked for the Port for 24 years with dedicated and excellent services without a single problem," he submitted.

At that juncture, defence counsel Lamin S. Camara walked into the courtroom and announced his representation for the accused person.

In his application for bail on behalf of the accused person, counsel Camara told the court that there were factors to be considered before granting bail to any accused person before a competent court of law.

Counsel cited those reasons as whether the alleged offence was bailable under the constitution which gives the accused person right to be granted bail.

He cited Section 99(1) CPC, which also gives right to the accused person to be granted bail.

He added that the alleged offence before the court was a misdemeanor, adding that the investigation into the case should have been over by then, after 4 months, and that was why a substantial charge was brought before the court for the alleged offence.

Therefore, it was not enough or correct to say the investigation was yet to be completed, he said.

Delivering the ruling, the trial magistrate stated that after he had listened to the submission of both sides, the only issue raised for the determination was whether if the accused person was granted bail, he would face the trial or not.

He said the second determination was whether the alleged offence committed was a bailable offence or not, noting that therefore the bail, being the discretion of the court, he had agreed with the counsel that the investigation into the case should have been completed.

Therefore, remanding the accused person on this charge would be tantamount to abuse or violation of his human rights.

I therefore exercise my discretion to bail the accused person with the following conditions, said the magistrate:

The accused person was granted court bail of D1 million with two Gambian sureties who must deposit their title deeds with the court.

The condition further stated that the two sureties must swear to an affidavit of means to enable them secure the appearance of the accused person in subsequent adjournment dates.

The case was adjourned till 2 January 2013, for hearing.

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