Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Ex Petroleum minister denied bail again


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By Kebba Jeffang

The Special Criminal Division of Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Edward Enegi denied bail to Sirra Wally Ndow Njai, Sirra Wally Ndow Njiethe former Energy and Petroleum Minister, after her second attempt seeking for a conditional freedom during proceedings of 31st August, 2016.

The trial judge, in delivering his ruling, recalled the application made seeking for bail on health grounds. He, however, said that the respondent (state lawyers) asked the court for denial of bail to the applicant.

Justice Eneji said in order to determine whether the respondent has a right to deny bail to the applicant and whether they have provided sufficient evidence as to why the applicant should not be granted bail, his court has the right to do substantive justice between the parties rather than replying to the parties on mere technicalities in their submissions.

He said the respondent argued that the applicant did not put forward any material evidence before the court to warrant for bail to be given.

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“I have gone through  the briefs, the originating summon, arguments and citation made by the parties but, however, the court in exercising its discretion in granting bail in favour of the applicant, the applicant must furnish the court with sufficient evidence to persuade the court as to why bail should be granted,” said the trial judge.

He raised concern about the substantial factors such as the nature of the offence, the availability of the applicant to stand trial when granted bail and the interference of the witnesses.

The trial judge noted that “the presumption of innocence and personal liberty of anyone should not be denied by any court, authorities or institutions but notwithstanding observed that those rights should not be in vague but rather within the realms of the law.”

He said the special circumstance of the health of the applicant must be considered by the court in granting bail but, in doing that, the applicant must furnish the court with evidence which the applicant failed to do.

Justice Eneji therefore ruled that “this court cannot sit on its own decision. Only the Court of Appeal can do that. This application lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”

Meanwhile, the court ordered the prison authorities to provide proper medical attention to Mrs. Ndow Njie and all the necessary medication she will need while in prison and also to be housed in a ventilated cell at Mile II Prison.

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