By Mamadou Dem Lamin J.S. Fatajo, Project Coordinator of the former Rural FinanceFatajo Project (RFP) and Muhammed Lamin Mass, the then acting Accountant of the said project, yesterday, 14 April, appeared before Magistrate Samsideen Conteh of the lower court in Banjul. He is charged with “Neglect of official duty’ and ‘Abuse of office’ contrary to the laws of the Gambia. Both accused persons pleaded not guilty as charged and were consequently granted bail in the sum of D200, 000.00 and ordered to produce one Gambian surety each and who should enter into recognizance of the said sum for the accused persons. The surety should depose to an affidavit of means as well as surrender his/her national Identity Card with the court registrar. According to the particulars of offence on count one, the duo sometimes in May 2014 at Cape Point, Bakau in the Kanifing Municipality and diverse areas, in their capacities as the Project Coordinator and Acting Finance and Administrative Manager of the Rural Finance Project (RFP), opened an account at Keystone Bank for Friends Consult Limited through Rural Finance Project without informing the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture as stipulated in the Government Budget Management and Accountability Act 2004 and thereby committed an offence. The prosecution alleges on count two that both accused persons sometimes in the same month and year, in their capacities as  Project Coordinator and Acting Finance and Admin Manager, abused the authority of their office by opening an account with Keystone Bank for  Friends Consult Limited through Rural Finance, a Ugandan Firm to access funds from their donors International Food Agriculture Development (IFAD) without approval from their authorities. After reading out the charges to the accused persons and a plea of not guilty entered on their behalf, Sub-Inspector Alpha Badjie applied for adjournment to enable the prosecution to call witnesses for hearing. The attorney for the defendants, Lawyer Lamin Camara, submitted that in light of the application for adjournment by the prosecution, he is applying for his clients to be admitted to bail pursuant to section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). “The charges preferred against the accused persons are misdemeanors and therefore the court has the right to grant bail, since they are not punishable with death or life imprisonment,” he submitted. The defence counsel informed the court that the accused persons are already on bail at the high court in another matter and that title deeds were deposited and as such, they do not pose any flight risk to anybody since their liberty is already restricted by a bond. “We therefore urged Your Worship to exercise your discretion in favour of the accused persons by granting them bail,” submitted counsel. Sub-Inspector Badjie replying to the application for bail did not object for the accused persons to be released on bail. However, he said they will entirely leave the issue of bail at the discretion of the court. Consequently, both accused persons were granted bail as stated above. At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to 23rd April 2015 for hearing. ]]>

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