Oct 18, 2010, 11:50 AM
Lawyer Kebba Sanyang yesterday told the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, in the trial of one Landing Jadama and eleven others, that the defence wanted to raise a preliminary objection to the charge against the accused persons.
This followed the testimony of the first prosecution witness, one Essa Camara, a principal planner at the Department of Physical Planning in
Counsel Sanyang said that the accused persons were charged with giving false information to a public officer contrary to section 114 of Criminal Procedure Code.
“I object to the charge against my clients based on the grounds that the accused persons have the constitutional right to petition the Executive to seek redress for their grievances, which is clearly stated in the constitution,” counsel added.
He also pointed out that it has been clearly stated that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.
Counsel further told the court that the second grounds for the objection was that the Office of the President “is not a public office, and is not considered as a public office” by the law. “So how can the accused persons be charged with giving false information to a public officer,” counsel declared.
“The accused persons did not commit an offence in the eyes of the law, and it is their constitutional right to petition the Executive, if they are aggrieved and want to redress their problem,” he added.
Responding to the defence counsel’s submission, the prosecuting officer, Cadet ASP Manneh, told the court that the objection raised by the defence was irrelevant.
He added that the accused persons were charged under section 114 of the Criminal Code, which provides for punishment for those who misuse the petition.
Cadet ASP Manneh further submitted that whereas the Office of the President is not a public office, those working there are public officers. He added that the section under which the accused persons were charged is lawful, and in line with the constitution.
He, therefore, urged the court to ask the accused persons to enter their plea.
The defence counsel, replying on points of law, further said the prosecution’s submission was not based on law and, therefore, urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused persons, since they did not commit any offence which was known to law.Magistrate Nkea adjourned the case till 29th December 2010 for ruling