Jan 5, 2009, 8:11 AM
The Kanifing Magistrate's Court on 1st April 2010 convicted and sentenced Femi Peters to a mandatory term of one-year imprisonment. Femi Peters was also ordered by the court to immediately pay D10, 000.
In delivering his judgment, Magistrate Kayode told a packed courtroom that the defence had failed on both counts, that is, control of procession and use of a loudspeaker. He further noted that the accused was found quilty on both counts.
Magistrate Kayode then asked defence counsel Ousainou Darboe whether he has anything to say in mitigation on behalf of the convict.
Lawyer Ousainou Darboe rose and told the court that "it was around this season in an unjust society and by application of an unjust law that Nelson Mandela was incarcerated."
He stated that constitutional rights are conferred on people, and the abnegation of these rights cannot in anyway be used against an accused person.
He went on to say that the convict had joined the ranks of Kwame Nkrumah who was convicted for a similar offence by an unjust law that the British used to suppress any opposition. He further indicated that the convict had joined the legandary Mandela, who had been arraigned for a purely political offence, and based on repressive laws to silence the opposition.
"Nelson Mandela was sent to jail because he was an opposition leader," lawyer Darboe told the court.
Darboe stated that the convict is not a criminal, and that no court should continue with proceedings on the matter when an application at the High Court is pending.
According to the defence counsel, this was a case where an opposition member was involved.
"Femi Peters is not on trial, but it is the judiciary of The Gambia that is on trial. This is why the application at the High Court for a stay of proceedings has not been dealt with," lawyer Darboe stated.
Lawyer Darboe further stated that the court should decide whether this was an occasion in which people were exercising their democratic rights, so that the court would not see itself as attempting to stifle the opposition.
"If a court of the Republic of The Gambia will think colonial and use colonial repression to pass sentence on the accused person, then it will certainly perpetrate a colonial legacy," lawyer Darboe told the court.
He added that the case was different from other cases, because the convict is not a criminal. He said the trial of the convict was politically motivated.
"I will leave the court to decide whether in the face of the evidence, members of the ruling party were not permitted to hold a rally and whether there will be punishment of persons who have been denied their rights," lawyer Darboe concluded.
At this juncture, magistrate Kayode rose and retired into his chambers for thirty minutes and then returned to the courtroom.
Stating that "the law should not be said to be non-existent," the magistrate declared his verdict by sentencing Femi Peters to a mandatory term of one year, and ordered him to pay D10, 000 on the spot.