Monday, June 17, 2024

Dibba appears in court on charges of seditious intention, granted bail

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By Alieu Jallow

The Deputy National Organizing Secretary of the United Democratic Party, Ebrima Dibba, was granted bail for D100,000 after appearing before Magistrate Krubally at the Banjul Magistrates Court on charges of “seditious intention.”

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The Particulars of Offence show that “Ebrima Dibba sometime in May 2024 in Banjul published a WhatsApp audio stating that the President is greedy and understands nothing, immature, exercises rudeness and foolishness” a statement calculated to bring into hatred, contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President or the Government thereby committed offence.”

at some point in May 2024 Banjul, published a WhatsApp audio stating that the President is greedy, understands nothing, is immature, exercises rudeness, and is foolish. This statement was calculated to incite hatred, contempt, or disaffection against the President or the Government, thereby committing an offence.

Commission Abdoulie Sanneh, Superintendent Almameh Manga and ASP Y.S Colley appeared for the Inspector General of Police while Senior Lawyer Bory S. Touray, Abul Aziz Bensouda, Yakumba Jaiteh and Lawyer Lamin Fatty appeared for the defendant.

The defence lawyers for the accused person vow to challenge the charges levied against their client as he awaits his plea taking. The defence for Ebrima Dibba argued that the charge before the court is incompetence thus urging the court to strike it out citing it doesn’t give power to the court to impose any criminal sanction.

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Reacting to that motion, Commission Sanneh asserted that the submission made by his Counsel Borry Touray is misleading and baseless, emphasising that the charge levied on their client is appropriate.

“We refer the court to section 51 which the accused is charged and further refer to section 52 which punishes the same. This is why we charge him with section 51 and its punishment section thereto and we are saying that section 52 sub 1 b and c matches with section 51 sub 1 a. It is our submission that the counsel’s application be dismissed since misconceived and we ask the accused to enter his plea,” he submitted.

Following some back-and-forth submissions from both counsels, Counsel Touray sought bail, informing the court of the accused bail granted by the Police noting that his offence is bailable. He applied for court bail emphasizing the marital status of the accused who has a family and is equally an executive member of the United Democratic Party.

Counsel Touray further assured the court of his availability in the next hearing, citing that the accused was willing to visit the country despite commenting out of the jurisdiction.

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This application did not object to the prosecution and thus paved the way for the sitting magistrate to use the discretion of the court to grant the accused bail.

“I hereby exercise such discretion and admit the accused herein Ebrima Dibba is granted bail in the sum of D100000 dalasis and the accused is ordered to provide a responsible Gambian surety who must be in the course of either business or employment and the surety shall provide to the court his or her correct contact number or numbers, valid address, provide his or her valid Original ID Card or passport and swear to an affidavit of means that he or she will ensure the appearances of the accused in subsequent court proceedings at particular dates and times when required and further swear that he or she will forfeit the bail bond to the state in the event fails to appear.”

Following his ruling, Counsel Touray sought for the prosecution to provide a copy of the WhatsApp audio and its translations to the defence as they did not want to put in a trial by ambush. This application sparked a reaction as Commission Sanneh informed the court of the unavailability of the said audio in police custody but cited that the audio was published by the accused, and he is in possession of it.

At this point Lawyer Borry objected to Commissioner Sanneh’s submission stressing that his learnt colleague cannot give evidence from Bar, saying the accused made the audio without using the word “allegedly”.

In his ruling, Magistrate Kurubally ordered for the prosecution to furnish the defence with the WhatsApp audio mentioned in the charge sheet to avoid trial by ambush.

“I ordered the prosecution to supply the defence any relevant document including the audio to be relied upon,” Principal Magistrate Krubally ordered.

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