By: Yankuba Jallow
The High Court Presided over by Justice Buba Jawo on November 21st 2017, denied State prosecutor A.N. Yusuf’s application to remand the alleged Farato rioters at Mile II. Counsel Yusuf appealed on behalf of the state, for the court to remand the accused persons because they failed to meet their bail condition as ordered by the former Judge, Justice Basiru Mahoney; that the court gave the accused persons 4 weeks to fulfill their bail bonds which has now elapsed.
The ten accused persons are Alhagie Dulo M.H. Sambou, Kebbah Drammeh, Alhagie Imam Ousman Ceesay, Alhagie Jobe, Alieu Touray, Bakary Manneh, Alieu Faal Junior, Sainey Bayo, Alieu Faal and Ebrima Secka. They face criminal charges at the Lower Court in Brikama, but their case has been transferred to the High Court in Banjul, for lack of jurisdiction to hear the matter at the Lower Court in Brikama.
They face ten charges of incitement to violence contrary to section 59 B (b) of the Criminal Code (CC), unlawful assembly contrary to section 69 and punishable under section 70 of the CC, riot contrary to section 69 and punishable under section 71 of the CC, damaging machinery contrary to section 77 of the CC, malicious damage to property contrary to section 312 (1) of the CC, assault contrary to section 230 (b) of the CC, conspiracy to commit misdemeanor contrary to section 369 of the CC and conspiracy to commit felony contrary to section 368 of the CC. The fourth accused person, Alagie Jobe was announced to be sick and his medical papers were shown to the Court.
Defence lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe, told the court that he went with Counsel Yusuf to the previous Judge Mahoney, to review the bail bond which the former Judge was ready to act upon but was at that time, elevated to the Gambia Court of Appeal. From that time, Counsel Jobe told the court that they do not know the state of the case because there was no Judge.
The Court in its ruling held that the initial time given to the accused persons for bail has elapsed but it held that for the interest of Justice, it extended the time to December 4th 2017.
In the beginning, before the lengthy argument on the issue of bail, State Prosecutor Yusuf, applied for an adjournment to a convenient date, to enable the court commence hearing. Counsel Jobe for the accused persons told the court he has no objection for the State’s application for an adjournment but he made an application pursuant to Section 24 of the Constitution, for the Court to review its previous bail condition referring to them as excessive and pleaded for the court to revisit its previous bail condition to make this affordable to all accuse persons. He told the court that most of the accused persons are poor and old as well and are not able to fulfil the conditions. He referred the Court to the provision of Section 99 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) which indicates that the amount of bail to be fixed, should in due regard, commensurate to the circumstances of the case; that the circumstance of the case is that the accused persons are poor and old and cannot meet the excessive bail conditions. “If the accused persons cannot meet the bail conditions then it means the conditions are excessive”, he said. “And if the bail conditions are difficult to be fulfilled, it amounts to denial of the right to bail and the accused person may apply to the Honourable Court for review”, he said.
He said the accused persons have lands on freehold, which he referred to as local ownership of the land which they can use as their bail bond; that the previous Judge ruled that the accused persons or their sureties, can use anything of value worth D250,000.00, as their bail bond. He urged the Court to allow them use any material valued to the amount of D250,000.00, as security of their pay out.
He mentioned that the essence of bail is to further the rights of the accused persons and secure their attendance in court whenever they are required to appear; that the accused persons are people of high social calibre some of whom are imams, alkalos, commissioners of oaths among others; that they are responsible family heads who are the breadwinners. He told the court that the accused persons are eager and ready to defend themselves in the matter and to clear the allegations levied against them.
Counsel Yusuf did not object to the bail application and rested everything in the hands of the court to determine. The Court ruled that Defence Counsel Jobe should come formally to enable the State to be served. The case was adjourned to 11th, 20th and 28th December 2017 at 10am for the 11th and 20th and 12 noon for 28th, respectively.