By Yankuba Jallow
Edward Singhatey, a member of the defunct AFPRC Government has instituted an appeal before the Court of Appeal between him and the Attorney General contesting the findings of the Janneh Commission that he committed theft.
Singhatey was adversely fined by the Janneh Commission and he now seeks the Court of Appeal to set aside the Commission’s findings against him.
The Coram of the Court of Appeal headed by the President, Awa Bah will have to decide whether or not the findings of the Janneh Commission against Edward Singhatey was appropriate or not.
The 51 – year – old wants the Court of Appeal to issue an order for stay of execution of the orders of the Commission of Inquiry dated 29th March 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.
Additionally, the former military officer wants the court to grant him an injunction restraining the Attorney General or any person acting through or under him from or interfering with the subject matter of the suit pending the determination of the Appeal.
Singhatey together with former President Yahya Jammeh, Ex-Captains B. Sabally, Sadibou Hydara and Yankuba Touray formed the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) after toppling the PPP government which was in power for 30 years.
The former army captain was the Minister of Defence from July 1994 to February 1995 and became the Vice Chairman of AFPRC from February 1995 to October 1996. He was appointed Minister immediately after the presidential elections in 1996.
The Commission in its report held that the evidence showed that Singhatey was a signatory to the CBG 3M Account of the $3 million cash brought by Ebou Jallow and $2,220,000 was deposited by Singhatey and Ebou Jallow with the full knowledge that that was not the only amount taken.
The Commission held that Singhatey violated section 115 of the Criminal Code as well as breached the constitutional provision for dealing with public funds. He was also found to be liable for aiding and abetting the theft of $2.7 million which was not deposited. Additionally, he was found liable for abuse of office contrary to section 90 of the Criminal Code. The Commission found out that their regime (AFPRC) has failed to account for $32,220,000.
The Commission is of the view that ouster clauses (immunity provisions) under the second schedule of the Constitution do not apply as the members of the AFPRC were not acting in the performance of their official duties or in the exercise of their executive powers when they operated outside the framework of the law or misappropriated public fund.
On his first ground of appeal, the former officer turned civilian claimed that the Commission erred in law for holding that he being a signatory to a public account conspired to commit theft. In the particulars, Singhatey is arguing that the evidence adduced does not meet the minimum threshold of proof in civil matters.
On the second ground, the appellant (Singhatey) said there is no evidence before the Commission that he was actually directly or indirectly involved in the alleged theft of public funds.
On ground three, the appellant is saying the adverse finding of the Commission is against the weight of the evidence.
Singhatey said the Appeal will be rendered nugatory if the Attorney General is not restrained pending the hearing and determination of the appeal. He said in the interest of justice, the status quo ante belum is maintained pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal.
Singhatey said he was not informed by the Commission of the adverse findings against him. He said he was not served with the copy of the adverse findings. He added that he came to know about the adverse findings when the Minister of Justice released the White Paper.
Sinaghatey was also the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Fisheries, Natural Resources, Environment and National Assembly Affairs from March 1997 to May 1999 and he was appointed Minister of Works, Communication and Information in 2000. He was appointed the Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure in 2001 and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Employment in 2003. He was appointed Minister of Forestry and Environment from March 2005 until September 2011. He became a Magistrate from March 2011 to March 2013 and acceded to become Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission from March 2016.