Court to rule on status of President In former Air Service Manager’s trial

By Kebba Jeffang

The ruling on whether the president is a public servant or not which is to determine the dismissal or continuity of the charge against Mr. Borry J. Saidy, the former Air Service Traffic Manager at the Banjul International Airport, is expected today, 13th May, 2015 at the Brikama Magistrates’ Court.

This followed the adjournment of the proceedings on Tuesday, 13th May due to the indisposition of the trial magistrate who was said to be engaged at the time.

The ruling is on the re-submission made by the defence counsel Borry S. Touray calling for the acquittal of his client on the grounds that the charge is incompetent because the alleged false information was given to the President, who, he argued is not a public officer.

The then trial magistrate made an earlier ruling that the submission filed by the defence for a dismissal of the case was not supported by the purported letter that was sent to the office of the President.

In response to the dismissal, Lawyer Touray filed the said letter as part of his submission. This, however, coincided with the transfer of both the trial magistrate Omar Cham and the then police prosecutor Kebba Fadera.

However, on Tuesday, 12th May, Principal Magistrate Hilary Abeke, who was expected to hand down the ruling was said to be engaged on a meeting which led to the ruling being rescheduled for today at 2:30pm.

It could be recalled that Lawyer Touray, while submitting the application,told the Court that since giving false information is under Section 122 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the prosecution must prove that the information has been given to a public servant. He argued that both the President and Vice President are not qualified as public servants under the Constitution of the land.

Lawyer Touray cited the Constitution, Public Service Act, PMO Regulation, Code of Conduct of the Civil Service and General Orders among others to support his argument that a public servant is defined as a person employed in the public service.

On the other hand, the then prosecutor in the case Chief Inspector Fadera argued that the charge against the accused person is an appropriate one and that it is in accordance with the laws of the Gambia. He said it cannot be correct to say that President is not a public officer for the fact that he is voted into office by the people. He too cited Section 166 (1) and (2)(a) of the 1997 Constitution, adding that the section which the defence counsel is relying on is inapplicable in this case because the President is holding a public office prior to the coming into force of the constitution.

Mr. Borry. J. Saidy, is charged with a single count of giving false information to a public servant contrary to Section 114 of CPC Cap 10, Vol. 3 Revised Laws of the Gambia, 2009.

The particulars of offense states that the accused person on or about the 27th November, 2014 at Banjul International Airport in the West Coast Region and diverse places in the Gambia, while serving as Acting Air Traffic Service Manager, wrote to the Office of the President claiming an unfair treatment among others, which he knew or believed to be false, thereby committed an offense.

Mr. Saidy, however, denies any wrong doing.