“We Performed Eid ul Fitr after Sighting the Moon” Sangajor Alkalo Tells Court

By Kebba Jeffang

Buyeh Touray, the Alkalo of Sangajor Darsilameh in Foni, West Coast Region, who isSheikh Muhideen Hydara the second defendant, told the Brikama Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 that his village observed last year’s Eid ul Fitr prayer on the 29 July, 2014 after sighting the moon on Monday, 28th July, 2014.

When the case was called in the trial involving the defendant and the Khalif General of Sangajor, the IGP was represented by Sub-Inspector Ebrima Sarr whilst Lawyer Antouman Gaye and Lamin K. Mboge appeared for the accused persons.

Continuing with his testimony, the witness (Touray) said he knew Seedy Gibba, the badge messenger of the Chief of Foni Kansala. He said the messenger came to him with a message that he was sent by the Chief to the Imam of Sangajor to deliver him a message but should be accompanied by the Alkalo. He said the messenger told him that the Chief said he heard that people of Sangajor did not observe the prayer on Monday and that they should be prevented from praying on Tuesday.

He added that this was when they visited the Imam Malign Hydara (deceased now) and that a similar message was relayed to the messenger again. He said the Imam was sick at this very moment and therefore he asked them to meet one ‘Talibe’ in the village who happens to be Caliph General (1st accused person). He added that the Imam too is a ‘Sheriff’ and among them he was chosen as Imam.

“We went to Muhideen Hydara, the Caliph General (1st accused) as directed by the Imam and the same message was passed on to him. The first accused told the messenger that he has just heard from Imam Fatty in an announcement over Radio Gambia that those in the provinces are excluded. The Caliph then requested the mobile number of the Chief from the messenger but he responded that he does not have Chief’s number. The 1st accused told him that you (the messenger) should call the Chief to clarify because he heard Imam Fatty announcing over the radio that the communities in the provinces are excluded. He said to him you should ask to confirm whether we are involved or not,” said the Sangajor Alkalo.

Defence witness one (DW1) said “the badge messenger had never returned to inform us about the response of the Chief. And as we did not see anybody up to the following day between the hours of 10am and 11am we decided to pray. We would not have performed our religious rites of observing Eid ul Fitr had we not prayed on Tuesday.  I personally did not hear that announcement over the radio.”

When asked by the counsel Mboge whether they are praying for Imam Fatty or to God, the witness responded that he prays to God and to no other person. He added that the Imam is the religious leader in Sangajor.

“Do you know what the Islamic religion says about Eid ul Fitr?” asked Mboge. The witness responded that “it says when the moon is sighted it should be observed on the following day.”

“On what date did you people in Sangajor sight the moon?” Mboge asked.  “The moon was sighted on Monday, 28th July, 2014,” responded the second accused person.

“Are you aware of any law in the Gambia which stipulates the performance of Eid ul Fitr prayer on any day?” asked lawyer Mboge. “No, I don’t know,” responded the defendant.

“Are you aware that Imam Fatty and the Supreme Islamic Counsel (SIC) have power to make laws that people should pray on a particular day?” asked Mboge. “No, I am not aware,” responded Touray.

The case was adjourned till today, 4th March, 2015 for continuation at 11am.