By Mamadou Dem

Sergeant Baboucarr Njie, who was arrested by the ECOMIG soldiers at King Fahad Mosque last Friday for allegedly possessing a pistol, was on Tuesday, 14 February, arraigned at the lower court in Banjul charged with ‘Going armed in public’.

Principal Magistrate Isatou Janneh -Njie entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused person and consequently remanded him in prison custody on grounds that investigations into the matter are still ongoing.

The accused, she said, is an active member of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and there is fear of him interfering with investigations.

However, the trial magistrate intimated to the prosecution who objected to bail of the accused persons that the police should expedite the investigation on the matter and failure of which the accused would be released on bail on the next adjourn date.

According to the particulars of offence, the aforesaid person on the 10th of February, 2017 between the hours 13:30 and 14: 45 in the city of Banjul, was found armed with a Helwan Pistol with eight life rounds without lawful occasion in such a manner as to cause terror to members of the public and thereby committed an offence.

Speaking in the Wollof language, the accused said “I accept that I was caught with a pistol with eight rounds. I was on my way returning the pistol.”

Mr. Njie could not control his emotion as tears rolled down his cheeks while standing in the accused dock.

Police Prosecutor Sub-Inspector Abdoulie Bojang objected to the bail of the accused person, arguing that investigations are still ongoing. He added that they would not know what the investigators might come up with. “Going by that fact, I applied for the matter to be adjourned for possible investigations,” he submitted.

The police prosecutor added “We are objecting to bail, because the accused person is an active member of the Gambia Armed forces and if granted bail might tamper with investigations and there is likelihood that he will abscond and jump court bail.”

Prosecution further argued that Gambia is close to Senegal and the accused may abscond without the consent of the authorities.

The accused, who is representing himself in court, submitted that he preferred to be granted bail, adding that all his materials are with the police.

The trial magistrate, in her ruling, upheld the prosecution’s application and remanded the accused person until the 24th of this month to know the status of investigation and for possible bail.

It would be recalled that Mr. Njie was discovered of having been in possession of a pistol with the help of a detector used by the ECOMIG forces at the time when President Adama Barrow was performing the Friday congregational ‘juma’ prayers at the said mosque. He was immediately whisked away by the ECOMIG forces and handed over to the police for investigations and was subsequently charged within the 72 hours constitutional requirement.

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