By Mamadou Dem
Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of the Sinchu Alagie based Taranga FM, was yesterday, August 4, arraigned at the lower court in Banjul charged with a single count of “Seditious intention” contrary to section 51 (1) (d) of the Criminal Code, laws of The Gambia.
Police prosecutors alleged that Mr. Ceesay on or about the 16th day of July, 2015 in Banjul and diverse places Republic of the Gambia, distributed pictures of the President Yahya A.J.J Jammeh to one Zainab Koneh and Fatou A. Drammeh, through his Africell mobile sim card, showing a gun pointed at the president and with the intention to raise discontent, hatred or disaffection amongst the inhabitants of The Gambia and thereby committed an offence.
However, Mr. Ceesay has denied any wrong doing and was consequently remanded in police custody.
Prior to remanding the accused, his attorney, Mrs. Combeh Gaye alongside Mr. Segga Gaye applied for bail pursuant to section 19 of the 1997 Constitution and section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code. “I wish to point out that both these sections support the accused person’s right to bail,” said counsel.
She further added “I wish to point out to this court that the accused person is charged under section 51 sub (1) sub (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The offence under this section is a bailable offence and it is not an offence in which the court can deny bail.”
Regarding the arrest of the accused person, his attorney told the court that he was arrested on the 2nd of July this year in connection with the allegations which now formed the charge before the court. She said from the 2nd of July 2015, he was detained for a period of 11 days at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Headquarters in Banjul.
According to counsel Gaye, her client was only released on 13th July and was again re-arrested on the 17th of July on ‘Koriteh’ day. She said Mr. Ceesay was then detained at the NIA since the 17th until that day when he appeared in court charged with a single count of sedition.
Barrister Gaye submitted that from the 17th July to the date the accused appeared in court is beyond the 72 hours permitted by the Constitution. “Since both arrests relate to the same allegations, it is my humble submission that the state had enough time to investigate the allegations to prosecute the accused person,” she submitted.
She continued: “It is therefore my humble submission that there are no ongoing investigations and even if there are ongoing investigations, it is my submission that there is no evidence or indications that the accused will interfere with the investigations or prosecution witnesses.”
Counsel Gaye told the court that the accused person is a Gambian, although a very young man at the age of 25. “He is a responsible person in society. He is the Managing Director of Taranga FM and has occupied the position for the past one year seven months. The accused person was married until his wife sadly passed away. He is left with a 3 year old son who lives with him,” said the defence counsel.
Counsel aslo told the court that furthermore, the accused also lives with his grandmother who is an elderly person and that he is the bread winner of the family. She said the accused is not a flight risk and there is no evidence absolutely that if granted bail he will abscond.
“If the accused is likely to abscond, he could have done so upon his release at the first arrest. Any suggestion that he will abscond, will be mere speculations,” said Counsel Gaye.
She finally submitted that in line with all the above facts presented, “I urged the Court to exercise its discretion to grant the accused person bail on reasonable terms and conditions that the court may deem fit.”
Police prosecutor Almameh Manga, replying to the bail application, stated “We are strongly objecting to bail.” He added that for how long the accused was in detention is not to the knowledge of the prosecution because the matter was transferred to their office Tuesday morning.
He argued that as far as they are concern, the accused was taken to court within the stipulated time. “Investigation into this matter is still ongoing and we strongly believe that granting bail to the accused at this juncture will avail him with the opportunity to interfere with prosecution witnesses,” he submitted.
According to the prosecuting officer, they believed that the accused is a flight risk and if granted bail will flee out of the jurisdiction, adding that there is equally no enough evidence that would show the court that if accused is admitted to bail, he will not jump bail.
“There is no proof before the court to show that the accused was arrested, released and re-arrested,” said the police prosecutor.
At this juncture, the matter was adjourned to today for the prosecution to continue their objection on the bail application and probably ruling to be delivered on the bail issue.
Consequently, Principal Magistrate Momodou M.S. Jallow ordered the accused to be remanded in police custody pending his reappearance in court today.