Gambia Court of Appeal presided over by a panel of three judges, namely
Justices A. Adegoke, Edrissa Fafa M’bai and Awa Bah, yesterday unanimously
refused the bail appeal of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, party leader of the United
Democratic Party (UDP), and 19 others.
The other appellants are Kemeseng Jammeh, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta, Yaya Bah, Babucarr Camara, Fakebba Colley, Ismaila
Ceesay, Momodou Fatty, Dodou Ceesay, Samba Kinteh, Mamudou Manneh, Nfamara Kuyateh, Fanta Darboe, Lamin Njie, Jukuna Suso, Momodou L.K. Sanneh, Yaya Jammeh and Masanneh Lalo Jawla.
Delivering the lead judgment, Justice Adegoke said the applicants are standing trial at the Banjul High Court on seven counts of unlawful assembly, riot, incitement of violence, interfering with a vehicle, holding a possession without a permit, disobeying an order to disperse and conspiracy to commit felony.
She added that the appellants applied for an oral bail application,
which was refused, and they were ordered to file a bail application, which was equally refused.
She added that the grounds of appeal of the appellants were
that the trial judge held that a prima facie case had been established
against the accused persons when no evidence was given yet; that they were not given the opportunity to be heard; that the trial judge erred by saying the accused persons abused their liberty; that the trial judge convicted them before the commencement of the trial; that the trial judge failed to consider that all the charges against them were misdemeanours, and that the trial judge failed to use the Gambian law instead applied the Nigerian law.
She said the applicants contended that a prima facie case was made
after the end of the prosecution’s case.
She added that the prosecution argued that the trial judge should consider all the evidence against the accused persons, even though it is yet to be tested by the court.
She noted that the applicants further argued that the
trial judge’s decision was “erroneous”.
Justice Adegoke said it was the view of the court that in granting
bail the trial judge should and was expected to closely look at the
strength and character of the evidence before it.
The appellants argued that the trial judge was “bias and prejudicial” towards them when he said, ‘’I found that the offences were allegedly committed by the applicants.”
“Bias is a serious allegation against a judicial officer, and whosoever alleges it must substantiate it with facts,’’ she said.
She said the prosecution said if the appellants are granted
bail they would jump bail, would commit similar offences and that the charges the applicants are charged with threaten the security of The Gambia and that more charges might be preferred against them.
She added that she did not see in the records where the applicants
filed an affidavit of reply debunking these facts by the prosecution.
She added that she was in agreement with the learned trial judge that
where facts are not controverted they are true.
“Based on the foregoing, this appeal therefore failed in its
totality and it is accordingly refused,’’ ruled Justice Adegoke.
Justice Awa Bah and Justice Edrissa Fafa M’bai associated
themselves with the lead judgment delivered by Justice Adegoke.