By Mariama Marong
Chief Magistrate Omar Cham of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court recently ordered Lamin Mboge, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gam Housing to open his defence in his ongoing criminal trial.
He is standing trial on eight (8) criminal charges of obtaining money by false pretense.
The Proprietor of the said housing company appeared before the said Court on Wednesday, 17 August, 2022.
He is being prosecuted by the Police and the complainants are customers of his Real Estate Company. He denied all charges.
Lawyer F.S Jammeh, counsel representing Lamin Mboge (the accused person) has asked the court to strike out the name of the accused person from the charge sheet.
Counsel Jammeh further filed an application urging the court to strike out the name Lamin Mboge on the charge sheet, arguing that the legal liability of the company is different from Mboge’s personal liability.
Counsel Jammeh submitted that the application is based on a fact that Lamin Mboge, as the CEO of Gam Housing Company limited cannot be answerable to claims made against Gam Housing.
“ Lamin cannot answer claims against Gam Housing,” Counsel Jammeh said.
He argued that it is clearly spelt out in the Companies Act of 2013, that a company is a separate legal entity that has Directors, CEO’s and Staff. And therefore, he said, any liability against the company should be answerable to the company and not by any of its staff.
He then applied for the Court to strike out Lamin Mboge’s name and use the company’s name instead.
Sub- Inspector Y. S Colley for the Inspector General of Police, after closing the prosecution’s case, objected to the Defence Counsel’s application. Colley said it was made out of time because the prosecution already closed their case.
He said the application is late as he cited Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code to strengthen his arguments on charge sheet. He submitted that this law indicated that matters relating to charge sheet should be address before hearing start.
“I will not respond directly to the application, hence the defense application is a late submission and it lack merits,” Colley said
He emphasised that Lamin Mboge’s lawyer cannot make such an application for Mboge’s name to be struck out. He urged the court to dismiss the application and overrule the Defence’s arguments.
In his reply on point of law, Lawyer Jammeh said the application is challenging the jurisdiction of the Court, adding it lacks the power to try Lamin Mboge. He made reference to the Companies Act of 2013.
“Gam Housing Company Limited should be charged not Lamin Mboge because it is a different liability,” Lawyer Jammeh said.
Chief Magistrate Omar Cham, in his ruling, stated that both arguments made by the prosecution and Defense were based on law.
Chief Magistrate Cham held that the matter of jurisdiction cannot be raised in the middle of a trial regarding the charge sheet as he overruled the Defence. He said Lamin Mboge’s name cannot be struck out in the charge sheet.
Mr Cham called on the Defence to open their defence after closure of the prosecution case.
Consequently, the case was adjourned to the 1 September, 2022 at 2pm for defense to open.