Taranga FM Manager Denied Bail

By Mamadou Dem

The lower court in Banjul presided over by Principal Magistrate Momodou M.S. JallowAlhaji Abdoulie Ceesay, Manager Teranga FM yesterday, 5th of August, 2015 refused bail to Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of Taranga FM.

Mr. Ceesay was arraigned on August 4 and charged with a single count of ‘Seditious intention’ contrary to section 51 (1) (d) of the Criminal Code, laws of The Gambia. He denied any wrong doing and was remanded in police custody.

When the case resumed yesterday for the prosecution to continue with the presentation on their grounds of objections, Sub-Inspector Alpha Badjie submitted that the offence that the accused was alleged to have done has the severity to incur a threat to national security, adding that upon conviction, it is punishable with a fine of not less than D50, 000.00 and not more than D200, 000 or an imprisonment of one year or both.

“To safeguard the national security of this country, we submit that the accused person, even though learned defence counsel has said bail is at the discretion of the court, we urged the court to exercise such discretion in favour of the prosecution by denying bail and have him remanded in prison custody. We crave the court’s indulgence to grant our prayers,” said police prosecutor Badjie.

Replying on points of law, Barrister Segga Gaye, alongside Mrs. Combeh Gaye Coker, pointed out that the prosecution in their reply stated that they are not aware of the length of detention of the accused person. “This I submit does not amount to denial. Your worship, it is in fact an admission,” said counsel.

At this juncture, the defence lawyer, referred the court to the case of Antuwan Banna versus Ocean Bay Resort 2002-2008 respectively, adding that the defence presented facts that the accused person was in detention for a period which was never denied by the prosecution. “In law, they are deemed to admit those facts,” he submitted.

According to Ceesay’s attorney, it does not suffice just to say it was not to the knowledge of the prosecution as to the longevity of his detention. He said the accused person is presumed innocent until otherwise proven by the court which, he said, is enshrined under section 24 sub section 3 (a) of the of the 1997 Constitution.

“It is my submission that the prolong detention erodes the constitutional right of the accused person. I finally wish to submit that it is not sufficient for the prosecution to merely state that the accused person will flee the jurisdiction and there is absolutely no evidence, whatsoever, that there is any matter of national security that is breached by the accused person,” added Lawyer Gaye.

Continuing, Lawyer Gaye said: “I wish to state that the court needs to balance the constitutional right of the accused person as we have cited in Section 19 of the Constitution and Section 24 (a) against the mere submission by the prosecution. The constitutional right of the accused person supersedes concerns raised by the prosecution. Based on those arguments and reasoning, I urged the court to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously in favour of the accused person.”

Barrister Gaye finally pointed out to the court in relation to the charge sheet that the prosecution may need to amend the charge sheet because the section which the accused is charged under Section 51 of the Criminal Code is a definition section. He said in his view, the proper section should be section 52 of the said CC.

Delivering his ruling on the bail application following submissions by both the defence and prosecution, Principal Magistrate Jallow said although bail is available for the offence charged and having considered both arguments, the court will exercise its discretion against the accused person to allow the investigations to complete. “The fundamental right of the accused person is not in any way infringed in denial of bail. The ruling can be appeal at the High Court,” he added.

The defence team will move their application to the superior court i.e. high court.

Consequently, the case was adjourned to the 18th of this month for hearing.

Readers would recall that police prosecutors alleged that Abdoulie Ceesay on or about 16th July, 2015 in Banjul and diverse places in the Republic of the Gambia, distributed pictures of the President Yahya Jammeh to one Zainab Koneh and Fatou A Drammeh, through his Africell mobile sim card, showing a gun pointed at the President with the intention to raise discontent, hatred or disaffection amongst the inhabitants of the Gambia and thereby committed an offence.