Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Five agriculture officers back in court

Fatajo, Adda Gaye and Dr. Oley Njie Mbye

Five officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Ada Gaye, former permanent secretary,  Fafading Fatajo, project coordinator, Omar Jammeh, Financial Controller, Dr. Abdou Ceesay, Livestock Department Director and Foday Jadama, Deputy Director of Soil and Water Management Services were before Justice Simon A. Abi facing eight charges that include economic crime, neglect of duty and abuse of office.

The five were charged and brought before Banjul Magistrate Court in October 2014, accused of awarding a contract worth approximately $60,000 for the conduct of training programs which were never conducted and the funds never returned.  These officers were also accused of conspiring among themselves to recommend to the African Development Bank that Omar Jammeh who was Financial Controller to be Acting Project Manager thus contravening Government's Financial Instructions (FI).

The case was transferred from Banjul Magistrate to the High Court but not before they were granted bail. However, despite being on bailed, the five were quickly taken back into custody in clear violation of their human rights.  

The accused, we learned, were released two weeks ago by the regime in time from their first appearance before the High Court were their case did not make progress because the prosecution did not bother to file proper indictment.  The reason the Director of Public Prosecution gave was he was handed over the case file by the police just moments before his appearance in court.  He promised the court to file the indictment that very evening.

The case has been adjourned to February 11th 2015 for mention.  We will be watching.  As we have said previously, and as recently as yesterday, the regime's favorite weapon is the judiciary, using it to punish anyone it perceives as opposed to the dictatorship.

The five accused is the very core of the team, together with Sheikh Tejan Sosseh and other, responsible for implementing Vision 2016 - the dictator's dream of achieving rice self-sufficiency in 2016.  Because Jammeh will fail in achieving his dream, he is setting these public officials as scapegoats for the failure his agricultural policies.