By Mamadou Dem
The Banjul Magistrate’s Court presided over by Magistrate Muhammed Krubally on Monday 8th September, acquitted and discharged the “Alkalo” of Yuna Village, Alhaji Juldeh Bah, who was accused of ‘Giving False Information, to a Public servant.
Delivering the judgement, the trial magistrate stated that the accused person was arraigned before him on the 9th of July, 2014 and charged with one count of giving false information to a public servant contrary to Section 114 of the Criminal Code Cap 10 Volume three Revised Laws of The Gambia 2009.
According to Magistrate Krubally, the facts of this case alleged that on the 5th day of February 2014, the accused person, Alhaji Juldeh Bah, wrote a petition to the office of the president that his daughter was unlawfully evicted from her matrimonial house, which information he knew was false.
The prosecution called two witnesses to testify in support of their case, while the accused gave a lone testimony in his entire defence, he stated.
“Having presented the facts of this case herein, the following issues will arise for determination, whether there was a petition written by the Accused to the Office of the President and also whether the petition written to the office of the president amounts to giving false information to a public servant?” He asked.
He remarked, “I will now adopt the issues in seriatim and I will begin with issue Number one, that is, whether there was a petition written by the Accused to the office of the president?” He further went on to analyse that in order to convince the court that indeed a petition was written by the Accused to the office of the president, the prosecution needs to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the Accused did so.
He cited the case of Wilmington Versus DPP 1935 A.C. 462, that it is the duty of the prosecution in criminal case to prove every element of the case.
He added that he is conscious of the charge sheet containing the offence of giving false information to a public servant of which the Accused is charged, but the weakness of the prosecution’s case, he said, is that, it did not exhibit any supporting evidence regarding such charge in proving the Accused Person’s guilt.
Magistrate Krubally also said even if the petition was written by the Accused as the prosecution alleged, the court is not in receipt of such a petition, since it has not been exhibited as evidence. “It is trite law that the court does not speculate on the content of the document that is not before it,” asserted the Magistrate.
Krubally continued: “In the testimony of both pw1 and pw2, he said, neither of them mentioned that the accused wrote a petition to the office of the president stating the unlawful eviction of his daughter’.
Furthermore, the trial Magistrate opined that there was no petition in the mind of the court written thereof, regarding the unlawful eviction of Mr. Bah’s daughter. He added that in line with section 114 of Criminal Code to which the accused was charged under, the court was constrained in asserting whether false information has actually been given, which he knew to be false.
“Neither the prosecution’s witnesses, nor the accused himself mentioned anything like giving false information to a public servant in the entire proceeding,” said the Magistrate. Hence, he said the court is not provided with any petition either documentary evidence or oral evidence on any petition written. Then, he said, this court is therefore unable to speculate and act on the content of the document that is not before it.
“I must preface that in any appropriate case in which the proceeding is vexatious and that there is no reasonable or factual basis for it and will lead the administration of justice in to disrepute, that proceeding may permanently be stayed and the accused be discharged in any case,” he stated.
He therefore concluded that based on the facts and evidences presented before the court, the prosecution has woefully failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
In the light of the above reasons, the trial magistrate said the accused, Alhaji Juldeh Bah, is found not guilty and thereby acquitted and discharged.