“I agree that there is No Compulsion in Religion” Police Officer tells Court In Caliph General and Co Trial

By Kebba Jeffang
A police constable, Seedy Saidykhan, attached to Bwiam police station under Sheikh Muhideen Hydaracross examination yesterday, 19th November, 2014, admitted that there is no compulsion in religion.
He made this admission at Brikama Magistrates’ Court before Principal Magistrate Omar Cham.
He gave this testimony in a congested court room in a matter involving Sheikh Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray, the Caliph General and the Alkalo of Darsilameh Sangajor in Foni Kansala district, West Coast Region respectively.
When the matter was called, Sub Inspector Ebrima Sarr appeared for the state whilst Lawyer Lamin K. Mboge, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara and Lawyer Borry S. Touray all represented the two accused persons in court.
The witness (PW3) who gave his testimony during the last sitting was yesterday cross examined by the defence. He told the court that he knows the status of the first accused person as he stays in Darsilameh Sangajor ‘Sheriff kunda’. He added that he also knows that the first accused person is the Caliph General in the Gambia.
“I also know that by the position he holds, he has a strong religious influence not only to the ‘Sheriff’ but the entire Muslim ummah (society). I equally know that by his position he has a lot of followers in the Gambia. I know also that the practice of the religion is different from political administration. I know every religion is headed by religious leaders and that the first accused person is one of those leaders. It is the religious leaders who made decision in religious matters,” PW3 told the court.
He further stated that he is aware that the Imams in the country perform Eid prayers on different days but that he doesn’t know whether the entire world pray the same day. He added that he is aware that even last Eid-ul Adha (tobaski) prayer people in the Gambia did not pray the same day. He said he didn’t know whether anyone got arrested for performing the last tobaski prayer on different day.
“It is beyond my knowledge that the announcement made by the Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS) was a directive and I do not also know whether the information came from any court of law. I do not equally know whether the information came from the parliament,” testified the police officer (PW3).
The witness adduced that it is beyond his knowledge whether the first accused person has heard the information broadcast by GRTS like wise the second accused person. He said he doesn’t know the content of the message sent to the accused persons by the Chief of Foni Kansala (PW1) while confirming that the Chief is not the religious leader of the village. He added that it is above him to say that Chief has no power to compel the Imam of Sangajor Darsilameh to perform prayer on that particular day.
“I agree that there is no compulsion in religion. I agree that Eid-ul Fitr prayer depends on sighting of the moon. I also agree that all the people in the Gambia cannot see the moon the same time and day. I know that people perform their daily prayers on different times due to time factor (time difference). It is only God who is responsible for time change and no creature.” said PW3.
Police constable, Seedy Saidykhan, attached to Bwiam police station (PW3) told the court that the arrest of the accused persons has something to do with the Eid-ul Fitr prayer in Darsilameh village.
When asked to tell the court to whom were the accused persons praying to other than God; he replied that it is beyond his knowledge but added that for him, he prays to God only. He confirmed to the court that as a Muslim, it is not an offence to pray any other day.
The matter at this juncture was adjourned to the 9th December, 2014 at 11am to hear from other prosecution witnesses.