The Gambia’s convicted former Secretary General and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Njogu Lamin Bah, has been denied the right to open his defence in court after his lawyer’s application to that effect was overruled by Magistrate Hilary Abeke of Banjul Magistrate’s Court.
Had the court ruled otherwise on Wednesday, the prosecution would be forced to close its case and allowed Mr. Bah to open his defence.
Mr. Bah, a former key and power key ally of President Yahya Jammeh until his downfall in December 2013, is accused of interfering with the recommendation of Mrs. Jainaba Jobarteh to Gambia’s mission to the Union Nations without following the proper procedures. He had throughout maintained his innocence insisting, “I am 100 per cent not guilty.”
In his application, Mr. Bah’s legal counsel argued that the absence of the Director of Public Prosecutor (DPP), Salie H Barkun, in court was enough reason to allow the defendant to proceed with his defence.
“The date and time of the case was taken with the consent of both parties, but unfortunately the DPP is not in court,” defence counsel Lamin Mboge submitted, blaming Barkun’s absence for delaying the case. He urged the “court to take judicial notice of the fact that the DPP has many subordinates who can appear before this court and seek for adjournment.”
However, Magistrate Abeke said the state deserves the right to be given some time. “The record of proceedings showed that the state has not been absent in the trial, so we shall give them the benefit of the doubt and adjourn the trial.” The case resumes on June 18, 2014.