By Kebba Secka
The quorum of military officers headed by Colonel Salifu Bojang, on Friday March 15th 2019, held that they cannot pass judgment unless the facts and evidences found during the course of the trial, are confirmed by a convening / confirming authority; that hence the adjournment of the judgement of the ‘WhatsApp’ case till further notice.
When the case was called before a General Court-Martial, MB Abubakr with E R Dougan and Capt. A. Njie, appeared for the state whilst S.K Jobe together with Lt Commander Alieu Sanneh, Capt. Modou Demba, Capt. Kebba Jabbi, Capt. Cham Samateh, and Capt. Babucarr Bah, all represented the accused persons. Judge Advocate, Sainabou Cisse Wadda who distinguished her role in the trial as adviser, summed up her findings and facts on Wednesday March 13th. According to her, she received request from the president of the Military panel that he needs more understanding on the interpretation of Section 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115 and 116 of GAF ACT. Justice Cisse Wadda, gave a run-down translation of all the Sections named, in order to clarify misunderstanding of the trial head; but that the president still believes that by virtue of Section 113 and others, the panel cannot pass judgment without having its findings or records of proceedings confirmed by a confirming authority; that Section 113 (1) of the Gambia Armed Forces Act states: ‘‘where a proceedings of a Court-Martial are completed, the record of the proceedings shall be transmitted to the confirming and reviewing authority for confirmation, and review of the findings and sentence of the Court on that charge; that Subsection (2) states: “A finding of a Court-Martial shall not affect the keeping of the accused persons in custody, pending the confirmation and review or the operations of Section 115/116; that Section 116 talks about confirmation of findings of the Court-Martial, and Section 115 talks about the respond of the confirming authority not to be read in an open Court. The judge advocate opined that the provisions of Section 110 and 113, do not affect the passing of judgment by the panel; but that the president believed that there is need to have their findings confirmed based on his knowledge of the interpretation of the Sections. Under Section 112, the Confirming and Reviewing Authority
Subsection (1) states: ‘‘There shall for the purpose of enforcing decision of a Court-Martial, be a Confirming or Reviewing Authority, who shall have the power to confirm and review the findings and sentence of any Court-Martial.
Colonel Salifu explained: “Findings of the Court-Martial shall not be treated as a finding unless it is confirmed. For me, our findings have to be confirmed before we can pass our judgement. We have to send our reports to the confirming authority. This is my understanding of it but you (referring to the judge advocate) are the technician.”
Readers can recall that Capt. Yaya B. Jammeh, the lead accused person together with Lt Abdoulie Jabbi, Lt Yaya Jammeh, Sgt. Babucarr Sanneh, Sgt. Malick Bojang, Corporal Sulaiman Sanyang, Corporal Lamin Gibba, Corporal Ebrima Jallow, Lance Corporal Sambujang Bojang, Lance Corporal Abba Badjie, Private Camara and Private Alieu Sanneh, have been standing trial since November 2017, on nine Counts of a civil offence punishable under Section 83 of the GAF Act, treason contrary to Section 35 (1) (d); incitement to mutiny contrary to Section 47 (a) of the GAF Act; failure to report mutiny contrary to Section 47 (b) of the GAF Act; endeavour to persuade members of GAF to take part in mutiny contrary to Section 47 (c) of the GAF Act; negligence or wilful interference with lawful custody contrary to Section 65 (c) of the GAF Act; connivance of desertion contrary to Section 54 (a); connivance of desertion contrary to Section 54 (a) and negligent/interference with Lawful custody contrary to Section 65.
All the accused persons denied the allegations.