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Defence counsel asks for referral to Supreme Court - in Darsilameh Caliph, Alkalo trial

Aug 19, 2014, 10:05 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay & Yai Dibba

Defence counsel Antouman A.E. Gaye has applied to the court for a stay of proceedings, and to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of The Gambia, in the trial of Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, the Caliph General of Darsilameh Sangajor village, and the alkalo Buya Ceesay.

The court Monday heard the testimony of the first prosecution witness, before magistrate S. Sanneh of the Brikama magistrates’ court.

The chief of Foni Kansala district, Momodou Lamin Jarju, appeared as the first prosecution witness, and testified against the two accused persons, who are facing a two-count charge of conspiracy to commit a felony and disobedience of a lawful order.

When the case was called, the police prosecutor, Chief Inspector Touray, applied to amend the charge sheet in count one, from “misdemeanor” to “conspiracy to commit a felony”, and the particulars of both counts one and two.

Defence counsel LK Mboge objected to the application on the grounds that the charges were incompetent in law, because of the way they were framed.

However, the trial magistrate overruled the defence counsel’s objection and allowed the accused persons to take their plea on the amended charge, which both denied.

Defence counselAAE Gaye in his submission noted that the charge was read to the accused persons, and they pleaded not guilty.

The evidence of the first prosecution witness, who is the chief of the district, has provided sufficient facts from their cross-examination to enable them apply to the court.

Counsel asked the court for a stay of the proceedings, and to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of The Gambia, for that court’s interpretation and determination of questions under the 1997 constitution of The Gambia.

Counsel added that the offence charged, in count two, is inconsistent with and contrary to the constitution; therefore null and void and of no effect.

In response, prosecutor Touray said the offences the accused persons were charged with are offences which are always before the court; so the court has the power to hear the case.

The trial continues on 1 September 2014, for ruling on the submissions.

Meanwhile, chief Jarju of the Foni Kansala district, told the court that he is a farmer and the chief of the district, adding that he knew the accused persons.

He informed the court that the nine chiefs of the West Coast Region came together and selected Dembo Badjie, chief of Bondali, who was delegated and received information from the Governor of the West Coast Region.

Badjie called Jarju on Monday and told him that any village that did not pray on Monday should not do so on Tuesday.

He went to Bwiam radio station to deliver the information to the people of his district. Then he sent his messenger to people in Darsilameh Sangajor, the same night, for them to deliver the information to the alkalo and imam.

The messenger later told him that he delivered the message, but they said Foni was not among the areas asked not to pray; only the Kombos.

He told the messenger to go back there, and tell them that the Governor said that the President said that from Kartong to Kalagi no village should pray on Tuesday.

The messenger later called him to say that they said they will pray, and that he asked him to stay there and be an eye-witness.

According to Chief Jarju, he also called the Governor and told her that he has told his people, but Darsilameh prayed; and that the Governor told him that he has done his job.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel LK Mboge, the witness said he knows about the Ahmadiyaa, Tijaaniyaa, Qadriyaa and other Islamic sects and believes that they are worshipers of one God, and they believe in the Prophet of Islam.

He also knows that during the time of the Prophet, all the various groups of Muslims practised the religion differently, but in The Gambia he does not know if the various groups worship God differently.

Jarju also told the court that his messenger did not give the information to the 1st accused person, but to the alkalo.

In answer to questions from defence counsel A.A.E Gaye, the witness said he was born in 1941 and has served as a chief for 8 to 9 years.

Since when he was a young man to date, in Ramadan people use to pray on different dates and he could recall that people did not fast on the same date. However, he and his people fasted on a Sunday, to start the Ramadan.

He said he knows that the 1st accused person is the descendant of the Prophet Muhammed, adding that he believes that all these worshippers believe that Muhammed is the last messenger of God.

Still responding to questions, Chief Jarju said he heard that some fasted on Monday, but he started fasting on Sunday.