By Binta A Bah
The former director general of The Gambia National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDEA, and a spokesperson of the same agency have denied charges of economic crimes, false information among others on Tuesday.
But accused persons only pleaded not guilty to 45 of of 90 criminal charges because the defence counsels request for an adjournment to attend other matters.
Ex-NDEA director Benedict Jammeh, ex-NDEA spokesperson Abdoulie Ceesay, Foday Barry, former director of intelligence and investigations at Holgam of the NDEA and Commissioner Yusupha Jatta, former head of the NDEA in the West Coast Region are facing 90 counts of economic crime, false publication, false information, abuse of office, and fabricating evidence at the High Court in Banjul.
The accused persons are alleged to have, extracted from the monies recovered from the 38, 500 Euros and other Gambian currencies amounting to D6, 000 and organised a party for their operatives, which monies should have been tendered as exhibits to the court.
The charges further alleged that the accused persons gave false information to the Office of the President and the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) that one Assan Touray was wanted for drug-related offences.
They are also said to have fabricated evidence that Abdurahman Touray of Pristine Consulting Company was wanted in The Gambia for drug-related offences in which they preferred criminal charges against him and presented it to the Gambia Police Force which was later found to be false.
The indictments further accused them of unlawfully terminating and dismissing the services of twenty (20) NDEA officers without authority, while in office as public officers.
They have all denied the allegations brought against them by The Government of The Gambia on April 30, 2013.
Jammeh and his co-accused were earlier arraigned at the Banjul Magistrates Court, and charged with eleven counts, which included economic crime before the case was transferred to the High Court.
During the plea taking lawyer Badou Conteh for the 1st accused (Jammeh) and lawyer Ebrima Jah who was holding brief on behalf of the second accused (Ceesay) argued that count three and four were the same and urged the court to remove it from the charge sheet. However, Justice Abdulahi Mikailu, presiding, dismiss the application.
Jammeh and Ceesay are on bail-bond of five million dalasi (over US$142, 857) each whilst ex-commissioner Jatta is on a bail-bond of two million dalasi (over US$57,142).
Benedict Jammeh was appointed as NDEA director general in 2010 after the removal of Ibrahim Bun Sanneh who is currently serving jail time at the country’s maximum security wing, Mile 2 Central Prison. Jammeh has also served as director general of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, in 2008, and Inspector General of Police in 2007.