The acquittal and discharge of the former Youth and Sports Permanent Secretary has dealt another blow on President Yahya Jammeh’s efforts to punish innocent people – the people he (Jammeh) had used and abused to the core.
Mambanyick Njie’s legal victory, which the regime will perhaps try to reverse either by hook or crook, is no longer news in a country where the leader wants to have control over everything, including what happens in people’s bedrooms. Others who had been freed by the courts were either detained arbitrarily or forced to melt into exile.
The key question that is note asking is: will Mr. Njie enjoy justice if he has not appeared before Principal Magistrate Dawda Jallow of Banjul?
Without mincing his words, the learned adjudicator’s Monday ruling has put a dent on the image of a prosecution that is fond of exploring wishful thinking. The prosecution would have proven its case against Mr. Njie if a proper preparation and homework were done. Any serious prosecution outweighs its chances of winning a case well before wasting taxpayer’s resources in court.
The prosecution lost the fight to convict Mr. Njie on a monotonous count of “giving false information to a public officer.” Mr. Njie’s only crime is to write a petition to the Office of the President accusing executive officers of the Gambia Football Association of engaging in financial malpractice and should therefore be dissolved.
Despite calling six witnesses and tendering exhibits, the prosecution failed prove its case. And to make matters worse, one of the prosecution witnesses contradicted himself and even admitted that six players whose allowances were given to him failed to turn up.
Another area of defeat for the prosecution was GFA’s decision to divert the FIFA subvention which is meant for the development of football and football-related activities in the country. Over a million Dalasi of this subvention was given out to staff as personal loans without proof of payment or payment arrangement.
It was also proven that the GFA did not submit annual budgets to the General Assembly for adoption. “It is not in dispute that GFA had not held an annual general meeting for 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively,” Magistrate Jallow ruled.
“I therefore resolve the second issue in favour of the accused person, in that the content of the petition letter is not entirely false,” he said.
“In the light of all the above, it is my view that the prosecution did not discharge its legal burden of proof to the required legal standard set under the Evidence Act, 1994,” Jallow told the court before acquitting and discharging Mambanyick Njie.
Mambayick Njie, a former Citizen FM local language news presenter, switched political allegiance from the National Reconciliation party to the ruling Alliance for Patriotic and Reconstruction party of President Yahya Jameh. Njie was appointed deputy Permanent Secretary at Youth and Sports Ministry before being fired, detained and prosecuted.