12 February 2013

Gambia: NDEA's Mbye Njie Convicted

Mbye Njie was yesterday convicted by the Banjul Magistrates' Court presided over by acting Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow.

He was convicted and sentenced to a fine of D50,000 in default to serve 3 years in prison on counts 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

Mbye Njie, former director of operations at the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA), was being tried under a four-count charge which included official corruption and abuse of office.

Delivering the judgment, the trial magistrate told the court that the accused person was properly arraigned before the court some time in 2012.

He said the prosecution first witness was one Saikouba Jammeh, and as PW1, he told the court that he is the station officer attached to Keneba Police Station in the Kiang West District of the Lower River Region.

He added that the witness also told the court that he knew one Sheriff Sanyang, as his officer commanding NDEA, Banjul Station, currently on a peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

Magistrate Jallow further noted that PW1 also told the court that he knew one Sarjor Jallow who was in their custody for being a surety to somebody who was alleged to be in possession of prohibited drugs.

PW1further told the court that one Alhagie Bakary Jammeh was the mediator between the accused person, and the family member of Sarjo Jallow to facilitate his release from custody, Magistrate Jallow said.

The witness also told the court that between April and July 2010, he was at the office when one Mr. Bah came to ask the whereabouts of Sarjo Jallow who was in their custody, and he told him that Sarjo Jallow was caught with prohibited drugs.

Still delivering the judgment, the trial magistrate added that PW1 said a few minutes later, he received a call from Sheriff Sanyang, to find out whether he had any Sarjo Jallow in their custody, and he replied in the affirmative.

Sanyang later called again, and informed him that Mbye Njie had instructed him to release Sarjo Jallow on bail, he said.

Sarjo Jallow was later released from custody based on the instructions given to him by his commanding officer, he said.

He said the witness told the court that a few minutes later, Alhagie Bakary Jammeh came to his office alone and informed him that his bosses had charged him D6,000 to bail Sarjo Jallow, but he told them he could only offer D4,000.

He said PW1 further adduced that he later received a telephone call on the other side in his landline from the accused person, asking whether Alhagie Bakary Jammeh had given him the sum of D4,000.

He said PW1 further said when Alhagie Bakary Jammeh was coming to his office, he was having a nylon bag containing D15,000 and gave it to the director of operations, who handed over the nylon bag to Sheriff Sanyang to keep it because he charged them D50,000 and if they failed to settle the outstanding D35,000 he would take Sarjo Jallow to court.

He said Bakary Jammeh also testified as the second prosecution witness and told the court, among other things, that he knew the accused person a long time ago, as well as Sheriff Sanyang who was on a peacekeeping mission in Liberia.

In his plea of mitigation, Lawyer L.K. Mboge told the court that the convicted person is a family man, and that he had been punctual during the court proceedings.

Counsel Mboge said the court had the power to fine the accused with a reasonable fine which would be commensurate with the charge.

The convicted person had served the NDEA for 23 years without a single police case, and he also served the nation with hard work and dedication, counsel Mboge said of his client.

He said being a first-time offender in the eyes of the law, and more so he had being dismissed from the service and remand for nearly a month, was enough punishment.

In passing the sentence, the trial magistrate told the court he had taken note of the mitigation plea made by the defence counsel on behalf of the convicted person.

"I had also put into consideration that the accused person had been dismissed from his position as a narcotics officer which is also another punishment. However that could not deter the convict from punishment," Magistrate Jallow said.

He consequently convicted and sentenced him as follows: count one to a fine of D20,000 in default to serve 3 years imprisonment.

Count two to a fine of D20,000 in default to serve another 3-year imprisonment; while on count three he was fined D10,000 in default to serve 2 years imprisonment.

All sentences are to run concurrently.

The particulars of the offence on count one stated that Mbye Njie, between April and July 2011 at Banjul, being employed as a narcotics control officer of the NDEA did corruptly solicit or received D15,000 from one Bakary Jammeh, on account of settling a case against one Sarjo Jallow out of court.

Count two stated that the accused between April and July 2011, did corruptly solicit or received D5,000 from one Bakary Jammeh, on account of releasing Sarjo Jallow on bail in the discharge of his duties as a narcotics control officer.

Furthermore, count three stated that he did take or accept D15,000 from Bakary Jammeh as a reward for settling a case against Sarjo Jallow out of court.

Count four read that Mbye Njie, for the purpose of self gain, did arbitrarily refrain from prosecuting Sarjo Jallow in abuse of his authority.

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