Friday, July 19, 2024

Three Senior Health Officials Face 13 Charges, Including Corruption, Theft, and Forgery

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By: Jawo

Three senior health officials, including Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, Balla Kandeh, the program manager of the Malaria Control Programme, and Omar Malleh Ceesay, the executive director of Health Promotion and Development Organization (HePDO), were brought to the High Court in Banjul yesterday. The charges they face include corruption, theft, forgery, and others, totaling over 13 counts.

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During their first court appearance on Monday, the trio pleaded not guilty to the charges read by Justice Jaiteh.

State Counsel E.N. Dounga, with M. Faye and S.L. Jobarteh, represented the State, while Lawyer Lamin L.S. Camara appeared for both accused persons.

Count One involves official corruption, as per Section 86 of the Criminal Code, Cap 10:01 Vol: 111 Revised Laws of The Gambia, 2009. It alleges that between 2018 and 2020, the accused officials corruptly obtained D4,287,645.26 in connection with the management and implementation of malaria research consultancies.

Count Two cites Disobedience of Statutory duty, according to Section 115 of the Criminal Code. The accusation is that the officials willfully disobeyed the Gambia Public Procurement Act 2014 by signing a memorandum of understanding without an open tender process.

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Count Three charges conspiracy to commit felony under Section 368 of the Criminal Code. It alleges a conspiracy to steal D11,480,023.00 from a grant to the Gambian government from the Global Fund.

During the plea, Defense Counsel Camara pointed out duplicate counts, and State Counsel Donga acknowledged the need for amendment. The court granted an adjournment for the amendment.

The presiding Judge, Justice Jaiteh, granted bail on the grounds that the offenses are bailable and do not attract severe punishment. The accused were granted bail in the sum of D19,000,000.00 each, with specific conditions, including providing Gambian sureties, surrendering travel documents, and attending court sittings.

The case is adjourned to 30th October 2023 at 10:00 a.m. for the continuation of plea taking.

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