Joseph Wowo’s Trial Starts Despite ‘Ill Health’

23 Aug
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh makes his way t...

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (in white) had vowed to fight corruption in his “Operation No Compromise” campaigns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Binta A Bah

The trial of former Chief Justice of The Gambia, Joseph Wowo started on Monday despite his reported “ill health”.

Last Wednesday, Wowo told the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul “I am very sick”, he is yet to see a doctor though as ordered by the Court.

Wowo, who is standing trial together with the former Justice Minister, Lamin Jobarteh, revealed he has not been taken to the hospital.

 A prison officer however, told the Court that he received the judge’s order for Wowo to be allowed access to a doctor late. “I just receive the order,” he said when the judge inquired.

Wowo is yet to have a Gambian who can facilitate his bail with a bond that requires a landed property located within the Greater Banjul Area. He is standing trial on 13 counts of abuse of office, fraud and breach of trust, conspiracy to defeat justice, offences relating to judicial proceedings, giving false information to a public officer, and assumption of authority.

His co-accused, Jobarteh, is charge with two counts: conspiracy to defeat justice, and offences relating to judicial proceedings

The two are said to have succumb to negotiation over a pending case before the court of appeal, which act was an interference with the due executions of legal proceedings pending before the court of appeal, prosecutors say.

They have since denied the accusations in Court.

Meanwhile a police officer attached to the Major Crime Unit has testified as the State’s first witness.

Jawo Keita, who was part of the panel of investigators, said he obtained the cautionary statement from first accused (Wowo) in connection to the allegation against him.

“I was tasked to investigate his ill-doings during his term in office,” Keita said, but Judge Emanuel Nkea, who was apparently dissatisfied with Kaita’s testimony, said: “If you don’t want to testify, say so. Don’t waste my time.”

Continuing his testimony, Keita said the second major thing while cautioning the accused, was in connection to Amie Bensouda, regarding a letter the 1st accused wrote to the NIA for Mrs Bensouda to be investigated.

The court admitted in evidence a letter purportedly written to the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, by Wowo asking for private lawyer Amie Bensouda to be investigated on allegations that she tried to “undermine the judiciary”.

While under cross-examination, prosecution witness Keita noted he was ordered to be part of the panel of investigators by the Office of President Yahya Jammeh. Demands by Wowo’s lawyer Uzoma for that letter to be produced failed to materialise after the State Counsel said it was not available in court.

The case will resume on 26 August, for continuation of cross examination and for the State to serve the defense with trial documents.

Wowo’s trial grabbed a lot of headlines and attention in his home country Nigeria. In one of many reports, the Federal Government said it will not support Wowo if he were to be convicted of corruption charges, according to PREMIUM TIMES.

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