By Yankuba Jallow
Ali Cham was on Monday sentenced to a fine of eighteen thousand dalasis in default to serve one-year imprisonment after he was convicted on various criminal charges including prohibition of conduct conducive to the breach of peace.
Rapper Killa Ace has been cautioned and discharged by Magistrate Sainey Joof of the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court although he was convicted on the charge. He was as well convicted on a charge of prohibition of conduct conducive to the breach of peace and assaulting a Police Officer in the execution of his duty.
The trial magistrate imposed a fine of D10,000 to Killa Ace for prohibition of conduct conducive to the breach of peace or a year imprisonment and D5,000 or 6 months imprisonment for assaulting a Police Officer in the execution of his duty. The court also ordered for the convict to pay D3000 to Demba Bah as a way of compensation and D500 to the police to pay for the damaged uniform.
The incident happened on the 29th October 2018 at the Serrekunda Black Market. The singer is accused of conducting himself in a manner likely to provoke a breach of peace, thereby committed an offence. The songster is also accused of assaulting First Class 6407 Demba Bah on his left eye and mouth, whilst in due execution of his duty and resisted lawful arrest. The rapper is accused of damaging the blue uniform of Demba Bah at the Serrekunda police station.
The convict, Killa Ace was first arraigned before the magistrate court on the 31st October 2018 and he pleaded not guilty to the charges when the charges were read to him. The prosecution called 5 witnesses to prove their case while Killa Ace was the only defence witness. The police witnesses all said Killa Ace was arrested because of his misconduct by refusing to be searched at the Black Market.
They said they went to the place called the Black Market at Serrekunda Market to conduct search because they received several complaints from people about stolen properties. The five witnesses were all policemen. They adduced that the Black Market is notorious for being a place where stolen properties were being sold. They said when Sub-Inspector Pierre Mendy approached him to conduct search on his bag, Killa Ace refused the search and told him that he was a dirty policeman and he wouldn’t search him despite Mendy identifying himself as a police officer.
Witness 1, Demba Bah said he was assaulted by Killa Ace at the Serrekunda Police Station thereby causing him several injuries on his face. He said Ace beat him up and caused damage to his uniform. His medical report and torn uniform were both tendered and marked as exhibits before the court. The other witnesses were Sub-Inspector Pierre Mendy, Sarjo Ceesay of the Anti-Crime Unit (ACU), Corporal Lamin Darboe also from the ACU and Detective Sergeant Kebba Jobe.
They all said Ace was raining parental insults on them and was telling them “we are in a democracy”. They said Ace refused search and he wasn’t cooperating with the police.
The father of four, Killa Ace claimed that he was tortured by the police and he produced medical reports including the scan report which was tendered and marked as exhibits before the court. He claimed that he is a public figure, artist (rapper) and a whistle blower. Ace said on the day of the incident, he closed from selling and was on his way home when he passed by the Black Market. He said while at the Black Market, a dreadlock policeman (Sub-Inspector Pierre Mendy) held his bag and refused to leave it. He said Mendy did not identify himself as a policeman but instead held his bag. He said it was at this point when Mendy identified himself as a police officer and he was searched. Ace told the court that after the search, his hands were put in a cuff despite the fact that he was found clean. He said he was taken to the Serrekunda Police Station and the cuff was removed from his hand. He said while Demba Bah was removing the cuff, he (Bah) whispered insult to him and he returned the insult. The artist said it was Bah who first hit him and he retaliated as a way of self-defence. He said it was at this point that the policemen standing there all joined Bah and tortured him severely causing injuries on his body. His medical and the x-ray reports were tendered and marked as exhibit before the court. He said he was taken to the ACU based in Bijilo and detained for 2 days incommunicado without being told the reasons for his arrest and detention.
The court held that the claim by Ace that he was tortured wasn’t pleaded in his sworn oral testimony and therefore does not form any issue before the court.
The court held that the incident happened at a public place because both the market and the police are public places. It also held that the Black Market is a place notorious for the sale of stolen properties.
The court held that Killa Ace did not challenge the fact that he assaulted Demba Bah and as well did not challenge the fact that he insulted them. Magistrate Joof said it has been established that Ace refused search even though the laws give the police the mandate to conduct search on any person when they suspect the person of having in possession of stolen properties. Court believed that the Black Market is a notorious place for the sale of stolen properties and this was where Killa Ace was found. The court said it has been established by the prosecution that Cham resisted search by the police. The court held that Ace did not challenge the fact that he hit Demba Bah – in fact, it is a consensus of both the defence and the prosecution that he has hit Demba Bah. The court averred that Ace’s claim that he was tortured happened after he assaulted Demba Bah.
“The accused person (Ali Cham) deliberately punched Demba Bah by punching him on his face,” the court held.
The court held that Killa Ace physically beat Demba Bah and torn his uniform and therefore convicted him on the three counts.
In his plea of mitigation, defence counsel Sheriff Kumba Jobe said Ace is a young Gambia and a first-time offender. He said the convict has a large number of followers and he is a peace advocate.
“He is not only an influencer in the Gambia but as well a leader with high followers in this country. He has spent all his life in the promotion of social cohesion through music and activism,” Counsel Jobe said.
Barrister Jobe said Ace has represented the Gambia at the international level and he is a type of citizen that each country will love to have. Lawyer Jobe said Ace was prominent in the fight against the 22 – years of dictatorship by the former regime. Jobe pointed out that the accused person is a father, husband, uncle and brother to many people and many people are dependent on him. He added that custodial sentencing will have impact on the people under his care as he urged the court to impose fine instead of custodial sentencing. He beseeched the court to tamper justice with mercy as the convict is a first-time offender. He said the convict, Ace is a public figure and a prominent artist as well an asset for the country. He urged the court to impose reasonable fine instead of sentencing him to imprisonment.
Lawyer B. Secka, beseeched the court not to send Killa Ace to jail because he is an ambassador of peace. The senior lawyer said Ace is a youth with creative mind who is a promoter of arts and culture in the Gambia.
“The likes of Mr. Cham encourage a lot of visitors in the country and therefore an asset to the country. He is a promoter of peace,” Secka said.
He relied on the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Bakary Bojang and The State and said first-time offenders need not to be sent to prison because it will expose them to learn bad trade.
Lawyer Jonny Njie, a member of the Gambia Bar Association as well as lawyer Patrick Gomez all pleaded to the court for it to tamper justice with mercy.
The prosecutor, Inspector O. Bobb made application for the court to issue orders for the convict to compensate Demba Bah and pay the blue uniform he damaged.