Taranga FM Manager Demands for bail again

By Mamadou Dem

Attorney for Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of Taranga FM, Barrister  Combeh Gaye Coker yesterday 8th September, Alhaji Abdoulie Ceesay, Manager Teranga FM2015  once again pushed for a bail at the high court in Banjul urging the court to protect the fundamental and constitutional rights of her client as stipulated under section 24 of the 1997 constitution.

Lawyer Gaye who has been battling for the freedom of her client on bail both at the lower court and for the second time at the high court which were all dismissed by the said courts told the high court  that her application for bail filed since August 31 was seeking for two prayers  which she said included that reasonable bail condition be given to her client that he can fulfill as well as to enable him to appear before the court to answer to any other  substantial charges before the court.

She intimated to the court that the affidavit of the accused in support  of the application contained thirty-five paragraphs  sworn to by one Omar Joof  and signed by the accused himself. She relied on all the grounds as contained in the affidavit.

Moving her bail application before Justice Muhammed Dan Azumi Balarabe of the high court who has inherited the case from, Justice Simeon Ateh Abi, Barrister Gaye contended: “Your lordship this application for bail is pursuant to sections 19 of the constitution and 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code as amended which all support the applicant’s rights to bail and freedom of liberty. It is undisputable that the charges before this honourable court are all bailable offences. The punishment attached to the alleged offence is a fine of not less than D50,000 and not more than D250,000 or an imprisonment of one year or both. This application was first heard by your learned brother, Justice Abi but he dismissed the application for the fear of national security which cannot be substantiated by any facts and I see no reason why the applicant should be denied bail.”

Mrs. Coker at that juncture referred the court to Blackstone law report 2002 and thereafter referred the court again to the most important pages contained there which she read out to the presiding judge in order to persuade the court to grant her application.

She further argued that her client is not charged with any offence which led to a broadcast of any information on any medium such as radio or television, arguing that, that was not the charge before the court. She then referred the court again to the previous ruling on the bail which she said were all mere allegations and cannot be substantiated by any fact such as the purported pictures which was sent via a mobile phone.

“My lord, your learned brother was concerned if such reputation is allowed, what kind of reputation it would have on the security of the nation. The reasons given by your learned brother was not substantiated by any facts before the court and had contradicted the accused right to presume innocence until proven guilty by any competent court of law. His ruling has concluded that the accused has indeed committed the alleged offences. The DPP has also misconstrued the broadcasting and publication of false news. The presiding judge has also confused the broadcasting of information as well as the publication and distribution of the alleged seditious materials, instead the information was sent in a message via a mobile phone.”

She said the accused’s position as the Manager of Taranga Fm has nothing to do with the charge before the court, adding that in paragraph 18  of the affidavit the applicant said he had no intention to broadcast the said alleged information on his radio or any other radio. She urged the court to grant bail to the applicant in such terms and condition which he can fulfill and also to answer to the charges before the court.

Barrister Gaye further submitted that the respondent [the State] has not challenged all those factors she outlined in her affidavit in support of her bail application. She submitted that the law stands in favour of the applicant at this stage as it is the duty on the state to put sufficient facts before the court to convince the court as to why bail shouldn’t be granted to the accused.

The defence stated that the state willingness to prosecute the applicant expeditiously is not the issue, rather the accused has the right to his liberty and freedom which is at stake and finally urged the court to grant her prayers.

Reacting to the defence application, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hadi Saleh Barkun submitted: “We are strongly objecting to the application as we have filed our affidavit in opposition and we relied on all the grounds especially paragraph 3 of our affidavit. My lord, there has to be new development in the cause of the application or condition that has not been fulfilled by the respondent. The action of the defence in regard to the bail is like putting the cart before the horse as at the time of refusing the bail of the accused, no new development has been arisen. There are no grounds in counsel’s application of bail rather it is like an appeal against the previous ruling on bail by the appellate court. The defence application is more of legal argument than appeal.”

DPP further stated that the court cannot reverse the ruling of the appellate court, rather it is the court of appeal which has the mandate to hear this application since the said application was earlier dismissed by the appellate court. He challenged that the only reason that could warrant the court to hear this application was if the respondent flawed the previous ruling of the appellate court which was not flawed by the respondent and since that has not been flawed; he added that the issue should be put to rest at this stage of the trial.

He continue: “The accused’s right to be presumed innocent does not mean that he should be granted bail automatically otherwise sections 19 of the constitution and 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code would be in conflict as every person is presumed innocence until proven guilty by any competent court of law. From the totality of the affidavit in support, there are no grounds for the applicant to be granted bail and we urge the court to dismiss the bail application.”

Consequently, the matter was adjourned till Thursday 10th of this month for the defence to reply on points of law.

The new indictment pressed against Ceesay at the high court alleged in counts two, four and seven that Mr Ceesay had intent to excite disaffection against President Yahya Jammeh, distributed a seditious phrase to wit read: “The sniper is hereby advices all citizens and non citizens to stay at their homes on Wednesday the 22nd of July, 2015 as our struggle to kick of the dog, begins that very day and we are capable of doing anything and it might start from the celebration ground. Please be at your homes for your safety Signed by sniper 3 {sic}.”

Counts one, three, five and six are similar to the initial charge he is being tried at the magistrate court in Banjul except publication of false news which also read as those of counts two, four and seven.