By Mamadou Dem
Principal Magistrate Momodou S.M. Jallow of the lower court in Banjul yesterday, 18th August, 2015 ruled that the case of Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of Taranga FM, should either proceed or be struck out.
Prior to the court’s ruling, Barrister Combeh Gaye-Corker, counsel for the accused, said “I’m applying for the charge before the court to be struck out pursuant to section 68 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) and for the accused to be discharged.”
At this juncture, Police Prosecutor Inspector Almameh Manga walked into the court room to announce his appearance for the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and apologizing to the court for being late. He therefore craved the indulgence of the court to enable him to reply appropriately to the defence’s application.
The trial magistrate ruled that the application of the defence for the matter to be struck out cannot be considered at this stage unless she comes formally with cogent and compelling reasons as to why the court should grant such an application.
In response to the ruling of the court, Mrs. Gaye-Corker submitted that at the time of her application, the prosecutor was not in court. She added that the matter was scheduled for hearing and wanted to know the position of the prosecution before making any further application.
Replying to the defence’s concerns, Inspector Manga expounded that the IGP wishes to discontinue with the criminal proceedings instituted against the accused person before the lower court in Banjul. He said this is because the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) headed by Saleh Hadi Barkum has intimated to the IGP that they will file an indictment against Abdoulie Ceesay at the superior court (High Court).
“Consequently, Your Worship, I apply that this matter be transferred to the high court of The Gambia. Since the accused cannot be prosecuted on the same offence in two different courts,” submitted Manga.
On the other hand, Barrister Gaye-Corker submitted that the prosecution admitted that the accused cannot be tried on the same offence in two different courts, adding that she entirely agrees with the prosecution because it is an abuse of the process to mention the same charges against the accused person in two different courts.
According to counsel, the office of the DPP has already filed a fresh indictment against the accused before the high court relating to the same charges at the lower court. “This was done since 11th August 2015. It is therefore my submission that in view of the circumstances, the court to have the charge struck out and not to make an order transferring the case to high court,” she said.
She added “I therefore urge the court to strike out the charge since the prosecution has said they wanted to withdraw it and then discharge the accused as far as this charge is concern.”
Replying on points of law, Manga referred the court to Section 62 of the CPC and argued that it is apparent that the court has the jurisdiction to try the case. He said they were not withdrawing the charge against the accused but because DPP office wants to prosecute the matter, they were applying for a transfer to the superior court.
Having heard both parties, the trial magistrate ruled that hence there was nothing to justify to the court that indeed such indictments were already filed before the high court, the matter shall be adjourned to two weeks for the prosecution to come with the proper indictment as cited in the defence reply.
Consequently, the matter was adjourned to 1st September for continuation of proceeding or be struck out.