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GBA challenges charges against Moses Richards

Feb 23, 2011, 12:14 PM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The Gambia Bar Association (GBA) led by the doyen of the bar, lawyer Surahata Janneh, together with Antouman Gaye and Pap Cheyassin Secka yesterday challenged the charges preferred against Moses B. Johnson Richards.

Moses Richards, a former judge and a member of the GBA, was charged with giving false information and sedition before the acting-Principal Magistrate Alagba at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.

According to lawyer Surahata Janneh, the charges against the accused person are bad in law, and the charges should be struck out and the accused person ought to be discharged.

He added that the defence was objecting to the charges, which failed to disclose any offence that the accused person can understand.

He said that the constitution makes clear that the particulars of offence ought to appear or reflect in the charges, so that the accused person can fully understand the charges against him.

It is clear that the accused person is a legal practitioner who has all rights to write a letter under the instruction of his client, without fear of prosecution, counsel said.

“It’s always applicable because the accused person is a professional who has constitutional rights under the laws of the Gambia to act under the instructions of his client,” he added.

“Moses wrote this letter for the purpose of his client, as a legal practitioner and, unfortunately, these facts have been removed by the prosecution. This was why I repeated that the charges should be struck out because they are very bad in law,” he continued.

Counsel further stated that a barrister writing a letter to government servants and even individuals, on behalf of his client, at that material time, is acting upon the instructions of his client as a lawyer, and is in line with the code of conduct of the Bar Association.

Counsel further added that the accused person was speaking on behalf of his client as a mouthpiece and that, as a lawyer, you are bound to promote fearlessly without expecting any consequences.

He added that the authority established before the court is beyond question, and that slander should not be preferred against a judge or lawyer, adding that authorities cited are applicable in law.

There was no crime of the nature called sedition, counsel went on, and finally submitted: “Your worship, both charges amount to abuse of court processes, and they are unsustainable in the eyes of the law.”

In responding to the defense counsel’s objection to the charges, the Director of Special Litigation at the Attorney General’s Chambers, D.O. Kulo, told the court that the charges against the accused person are good, and that they are sustainable in the law, adding that the defence counsel’s objection was premature, and that the court should not listen to him.

DSL Kulo referred the court to the criminal procedure code, and stated that the defence counsel’s objection was late for now, and that the court cannot be taken back, because the alleged letter was already admitted in evidence.

D.O. Kulo further referred the court to the Nigerian Legal sources, stating that the defence’s objection that the charges before the court are bad in law was overtaken, because the exhibit was already tendered in evidence.

He added that the charges that were compiled have disclosed the alleged offence and, therefore, urged the court to overrule counsel’s objection.

The case was then adjourned till 28 February 2011 for a ruling.