Gambia: Magistrate Rules in Favor of State in Ex SG Bah's Trial

Principal Magistrate Hilary Abeke of the Banjul Magistrates' Court, on Wednesday ruled in favor of the state in the ongoing trial against Dr Njogou Bah, the jailed former secretary general, Head of Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs.

In his ruling, Principal Magistrate Abeke affirmed that the state has never failed or being absent since the commencement of the trial and that for the benefit of the doubt, he will adjourn the case.

When the case was called for the continuation of hearing of the second prosecution witness (PW2) Yusupha Dibba, who is also the permanent secretary at the Ministry Defense, the state was absent in court.

This prompted the defence counsel lawyer LK Mboge to informed the court that the matter was slated for 1pm on Wednesday in the presence of the director of public prosecution (DPP) by consent and the time now is 2.16pm."Unfortunately, the DPP is not in court and none of his representatives," he said. He argued that the absence of the state has fore stall the case in the absent of any explanation from the Office of the director of public prosecution (DPP).

Lawyer Mboge further applied for the court to foreclose the case of the prosecution so as to enable the accused to open his defence. He added that the reason for his application to foreclose the prosecution's case was that "even if the DPP is in Far East of China, he can give notice or excuse of his absence in many ways since we are in the world of advance technology" he noted.

Counsel Mboge thus urged the court to take judicial notice of the fact that the DPP has many subordinates that he (DPP) could instruct or assign to appear before the court and seek for an adjournment as a show of respect. "Your worship in the absent of any excuse from the Office of DPP, I urged the court to grant my application and foreclose the prosecution's case in the interest of justice and fairness" said Counsel mboge. He further referred the court to a record of proceedings in the case were, the defence was late and the DPP proceeded in his absence.

In his response, the magistrate accordingly ruled in favour of the state. The case was then adjourned to 18th June 2014 at mid-day for continuation of hearing and that in the absence of PW2, they will interpose PW2 to PW3.

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