By Rohey Jadama
The supreme court of the Gambia, presided over by a panel of five
judges headed by the Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan, has granted the appeal of ex- commander of the naval staff, Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana, who was acquitted and discharged on all the four counts, while Lt. General Lang Tombong Tamba, the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), is discharged on counts 1 and 2, while
counts 3 and 4 were reaffirmed.Delivering the ruling in a crowded court room, Justice Gibou Janneh
said that Tamba and Fofana were charged with conspiracy and treason at
the Banjul high court and at the close of the prosecution’s case, the
counsels filed a “no case to answer” which was dismissed by the
presiding Judge, J.E Ikpala, who ordered the accused persons to enter
their defence and upon which they were convicted.
He said the appellants appealed to the court of appeal which affirmed
Justice Janneh said the appellants were not happy with this decision
which led them to appeal to the Supreme Court. He said the ingredients
to look for are that whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant
the appellants to be convicted.
He said the trial judge wrote that Mr. Yaya Darboe (PW5) was not on
oath and was a hostile witness. “Upon realizing that PW5 was not on
oath should have excluded his evidence rather than relying on it to
convict the appellants. The trial judge was speculative in his
conclusion and wrongly allowed Mr. Darboe to testify, he was neither
sworn nor exempted as provided for in the Evidence Act”, ruled Justice
He said there is no evidence connecting the two of the offences in
count 1 and 2 and THAT the trial judge wrongly relied on exhibit C to
convict the appellants. He continued “Therefore I allow the appeal and
accordingly acquits and discharge the appellants on counts 1 and 2.”
He added that Fofana is also acquitted and discharged on counts 3 and
4, while the appeal of Tamba on counts 3 and 4 is dismissed and
reaffirmed by the court.
The other judges in the panel associated themselves with the verdict
delivered by the Justice Janneh.
However, the Chief Justice did not agree to discharging of Tamba on
counts 1 and 2.
After the delivery of the verdict amidst a filled up courtroom by the
family members of the appelants, the two were led away in hand cuffs
and leg shackles to a waiting vehicle. Some of their relatives were
seen crying as the two waved at them in the presence of a crowd of
sympathisers and onlookers.
Earlier, Lang Tombong and Sarjo Fofana were found guilty on all four
counts of treason related charges regarding the 2006 foiled coup plot.
The presiding judge sentenced Tamba and Fofana as follows: 20 years
for conspiracy, 20 years for treason and 10 years for each of the two
counts of concealment of treason and which were to run concurrently.
By Rohey Jadama