Taranga FM MD trial: NIA officer ‘terrified’ by picture

Thursday, November 19, 2015
A National Intelligence Agency officer testifying in the sedition trial involving Taranga FM MD Abdoulie Ceesay, yesterday said when he saw the picture, in which a gun was pointed at President Jammeh, he was terrified and felt that it was a threat to the President.

When the case was called before Justice Abi of the Banjul High Court, DPP Barkun appeared for the state while Combeh Gaye-Coker represented the accused person.

The trial judge, in his ruling regarding the document extracted from the text messages sent to PW2 Fatou A. Drammeh and Miss Koneh, overruled the defence objection to the tendering of the document.

Justice Abi added that the prosecution had complied with section 22 of the Evidence Act, and accordingly admitted and marked the document as an exhibit.

The NIA officer was shown a document by the DPP to look at, and the witness told the court that he saw on the document a picture in which a gun was pointed at the President.

He said it reads as: “The sniper hereby advise all citizens and non-citizens to stay at their homes on Wednesday the 22nd July 2015, as our struggle to kick off the dog begins that very day. We are capable of doing anything and it might start from the celebration ground. Please be at your homes for your safety”, signed by the Sniper 3, ‘secretary to the group’.

The witness was asked by the DPP to explain what came to his mind when he saw that, as an investigator.

“I was very terrified, and I felt that it was a threat to the President,” he said.

The witness told the court that apart from printing the picture, the cautionary and voluntary statements of the accused were also obtained.

At this stage, the DPP asked the witness whether he knew one Foday L. Bojang (PW1), and the witness responded in the positive, saying Mr Bojang was his junior and that he was familiar with his signature.

The voluntary statement of the accused was shown to the witness and he identified the signature on it as PW1’s signature.

DPP Barkun applied to tender the voluntary statement of the accused as an exhibit.

However, defence counsel Gaye-Coker objected to the tendering of the said documents, arguing that the DPP had not laid a proper foundation to tender the documents as an exhibit.

She further argued that it was not an original material, and as such it was against the law for it to be tendered as an exhibit.

Lawyer Gaye-Coker also argued that PW1 was in court, and he had not given any reason as to why the original copy could not be traced.

She urged the court not to admit the statements.

Replying, DPP Barkun urged the court to overrule the objection of the defence and admit the documents, as relevant to the case.

In his ruling, the trial judge overruled the objection of the defence counsel and admitted and marked the voluntary statement of the accused as an exhibit.

Responding to questions under cross-examination by the defence counsel, the witness told the court that he worked at the NIA for five years.

At this juncture, the case was adjourned until 2 December 2015, at 3pm for continuation of cross-examination.

Author: Halimatou Ceesay