The Appeal Court yesterday dented the hopes of former Ombudsman Francis Gabbidon by upholding the decision of the lower court not to grant him stay of prosecution in his alleged crime of corruption.
Giving his ruling on behalf of the panel, Justice Nicolas Brown-Marke noted that they were concerned with whether they have the power to ‘stay off a criminal proceeding’ or not.
He noted that the matter was dismissed on legal principles and that the court hasn’t got the jurisdiction to ‘stay off proceeding’ as the right to appeal would only be effective after verdict has been passed.
He further noted that, ‘interlocutory appeal’ to the Court of Appeal could only be obtainable if the trial Judge gives consideration to a particular aspect to be interpreted in the Court of Appeal.
The whole matter revolves around the legal interpretation as to whether a matter should be brought against a Public Officer, after the time limit has expired, contrary to law.
The bone of contention is that charges levied against the defendant for alleged corruption while serving as Ombudsman contradicts the protection Act of Public Officials.
The provision allegedly stipulates that, an action should be brought against any Public Officer within six months of the alleged offence.
According to the Anti Corruption Commission, Gabbidon was alleged to have paid one Christopher Peacock the sum of Le 500,000 in December, 2007; but a charge was preferred against him in July, 2008 after eight months, instead of the stipulated six months time frame.
Speaking with Defence Counsel, Lawyer Dr. Jabbie said the ruling was not in their favour, but that any decision with regard proceedings in the Supreme Court could be premature without going through the written ruling to decide on the next step.
The two other Judges were Samuel Ademusu and Eku Roberts. By Solomon Rogers