By Rohey Jadama
Justice Eunice O. Dada of the Banjul High court has yesterday 13 December, 2016 adjourned the criminal trial of Mr. Momodou Sabally, the erstwhile Director General of The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) and Managing Director of the Daily Observer Company and one time secretary General and Minister of presidential affairs to 22 December, 2016 at 1pm for plea.
The state was represented by Lawyer A.M Yusuf whilst Sabally was not represented.
Sabally is indicted with 8 counts of criminal charge and when the matter came up, the accused informed the court that he has not secured the services of a legal counsel. He applied for three weeks adjournment to enable him secure a lawyer.
Justice Dada in her ruling indicates that section 24(c) and (d) states that anybody charged with a criminal offence shall be given adequate time to prepare for his defence.
She said when the matter first came up before her, the defendant applied for an adjournment to secure the services of a lawyer, which was granted and when the matter came up again for the second time he again applied for an adjournment base on the fact that his lawyer is engaged in another court.
Justice Dada said it is her considered view that the three weeks requested by the accused is unnecessary. She said 8 days adjournment shall be granted to the accused to prepare for his defence.
Consequently, she adjourned the case to the above mentioned date and time.
Readers would recollect that the accused person (Sabally) was indicted with two counts of economic crimes, three counts of abuse of office, two counts of neglect of official duty and a single count of giving false information to a public servant.
The prosecution alleged that Momodou Sabally in the month of May 2014 in Banjul committed an offence to wit: while serving as secretary general, head of Civil Service and minister of Presidential Affairs caused economic loss to Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to the tune of four hundred and two thousand five hundred Dalasis (D402,500) by unduly influencing the said Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to fund a programme titled ‘Youth Career Development Programme’ organised by one Mariama Sillah without recourse to due process.
The prosecution further alleged that he (Sabally) caused economic loss to the Government of The Gambia to the tune of thirty eight thousand, four hundred and twenty four Dalasis (D38,424:00) being money he received as per diem for a trip to South Africa in order to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Jacob Zuma, which he neglected to attend. Furthermore, the prosecution alleged that while being part of the Gambian delegation to South Africa to attend the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma, willfully and negligently delayed the departure of the Vice President’s flight from South Africa, for 45 minutes and thereby committed an offence. The prosecution also alleged that in flagrant abuse of his office as the secretary general, head of Civil Service and minister for Presidential Affairs, he influenced Social Security and Housing Finance to sponsor a programme titled ‘Youth Career Development Programme’ organised by one Mariama Sillah.
Prosecutors alleged that the accused, Sabally, sometime in the same month and year at Banjul committed an offence to wit: while serving as secretary general, head of Civil Service and minister for Presidential Affairs in flagrant abuse of his office presented two vehicles being property of Alasan Ndoye to His Excellency the President as a gift. The state finally alleged that the accused in flagrant abuse of his office with intent to annoy caused financial loss to Alasan Ndoye and informed the President that the said Alasan Ndoye had given two vehicles to him (the President), information he knew or believed to be false.
The state made a similar move by filing another Nolle Prosequi in the one count criminal charge of abuse of office filed against Sabally on 21st July 2015, before the vacation judge Justice Mohammed Dan Azumi Balarabe. The state alleged that, Sabally in 2014, while in the employment of the Gambia government as SG and minister of presidential affairs, without authority directed the signing of a concession agreement between the government of the Gambia and West Port Logistics Ltd an act which is prejudicial to the interest of the government.