By Rohey Jadama
The Gambia Court of Appeal presided over by a panel of three judges namely Justices A. Adegoke, Edrissa Fafa M’bai and Awa Bah yesterday 14 July, 2016 unanimously refused the bail appeal of Mr. Ousainou Darboe, Party leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and 19 other supporters of his party.
The other appellants are Kemeseng Jammeh, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Yaya Bah, Babucarr Camara, Fakebba Colley, Ismaila Ceesay, Momodou Fatty, Dodou Ceesay, Samba Kinteh, Mamudou Manneh, Nfamara Kuyateh, Fanta Darboe, Lamin Njie, Jukuna Suso, Momodou L.K. Sanneh, Yaya Jammeh and Masanneh Lalo Jawla.Delivering the lengthy ruling Justice Adegoke said theappellants are standing trial at the Banjul High court on 7
counts of ‘Unlawful Assembly’, ’Riot’, ’Incitement of Violence’,‘Interfering with a vehicle’, ‘Holding a possession without a permit’,
‘Disobeying an order to disperse’ and ‘Conspiracy to Commit Felony’. She added that the appellants applied for an oral bail application which was refused and they were ordered to file which was equally refused. She added that the grounds of appeal of the appellants are that the trial Judge held that a prima facie case has been established against the accused persons when no evidence is given yet.
‘’That they were not given the opportunity to be heard. That the trial judge erred by saying that the accused persons abused their liberty. That the trial judge convicted them before the commencement of the trial. That the trial judge failed to consider that all the
charges against them are misdemeanours and that the trial judge failed to use the Gambian law; instead she applied the Nigerian law’’, said Justice Adegoke.
She said the appellants contended that a prima facie case is made after the end of the prosecution’s case. She added that the
prosecution argued that the trial judge should consider all the evidence against the accused persons even though it is yet to be tested by the court. She noted that the applicants further argued that the trial judge’s decision was erroneous.
Justice Adegoke said it is the view of this court that in granting bail the trial judge should and is expected to closely look at the
strength and character of the evidence before it.
‘’The appellants argued that the trial judge was bias and prejudicial towards them when he said ‘’I found that the offences were allegedly committed by the applicants. Bias is a serious allegation against a judicial officer and whosoever alleges it must substantiate it with facts’’, she said.
She said the prosecution argued that if the appellants are granted bail they will jump bail, will commit similar offences and that the charges the applicants are charged with threaten the security of The Gambia and that more charges may be preferred against them.
She added that she did not see in the records where the appellants file an affidavit of reply debunking these facts by the prosecution.
She added that she is in agreement with the trial judge that where facts are not controverted they are taken as true.
‘’ Based on the foregoing, this appeal therefore fails in its totality and it is accordingly refused’’, ruled Justice Adegoke.
The other two judges in the panel, Justice Awa Bah and Justice Edrissa Fafa M’bai associated themselves with the judgement delivered by Justice Adegoke.