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From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Aug 6, 2008, 5:24 AM

Burama Dibba is now a free man. He can walk in the streets of Banjul with his head held high again, knowing that his hands are clean. Isn't it said that a clear conscience fears no accusation?

He is not the only one who has been accused of wrongdoing, only to be set free by a court of law in this country. It's good enough that these people are tried in a competent court of law; at least they are not taken straight to Mile 2 without the due process. That is some measure of respect for the rule of law.

But we are concerned about the costs, both to the state and the accused, in all these trials that have the making of a well-scripted farce. Both time and money that could have been well utilised for national development are wasted on trials in which the state is almost always humiliated. We recall the case of Maimuna Taal, former Director of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Pa Sallah Jeng the former Mayor of Banjul, Mr. Mam Sait Ceesay and many others. In all these cases, resources were wantonly spent to no useful end. Yet we are talking of poverty alleviation. Wasting scarce resources is an open invitation to poverty!

When these people are arrested, it looks as if hell is about to break loose, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. They are detained, suffer loss of reputation and so on and so forth. Then the case opens in the court. The defence lawyers roll up their sleeves and move in defence of the accused. Evidently, they ask for a lot of money. The case drags on and on until such a time that when the state prosecutors are unable to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt. Then the accused is discharged and acquitted. Why? Almost always, it is due to lack of evidence, or as the lawyers say, 'no-case submission'. Isn't this ridiculous?

Then the question is why the state takes so much pleasure in taking people to court when it has not done its homework well enough? Why is the state not feeling the shame of being humiliated now and again? The Attorney-General should spare the state the humiliation of being laughed out of court from time to time. The state should get its act together so that it should not be seen to be pursuing a vendetta against its own citizens. The state should not allow itself to be perceived as a vindictive bully who resorts to intimidation when it suits its whims and caprices.

"If you can't be just, be arbitrary."

William S. Burroughs.

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