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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

3 Years Jotna leaders face fresh charges after acquittal and rearrest

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By Alagie Manneh and Olimatou Coker

Immediately following a discharge order at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, police yesterday re-arrested and charged members of the proscribed Three Years Jotna group. 

The court freed Yankuba Darboe, Abdoulie Njie, Ebrima Kitim Jarju, Sherfiffo Sonko, Hagi Suwareh, Fanta Mballow, Karim Touray and Muctarr Ceesay from charges of unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation, and rioters demolishing structures after the state filed a nolle prosequi.

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But police waiting outside the court premises re-arrested the leadership of the movement, slapping them with the same charges the magistrates’ court discharged them of.

The police spokesman said the rearrests were made as a result of an information filed at the high court by the state. He did not give details.

After eight hours under detention, they were released on bail.

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Supporters of the embattled group raised fingers and chanted “Three Years Jotna!” as the bailed persons descended the stairs of the Police Serious Crimes Office at the Police Headquarters in Banjul.

“It’s all politics. This is all geared towards stifling our dissent of holding President Barrow to his promise to the Gambian people that he is going to serve a transitional government of three years, which has now proven to be the lie of the century,” bailed Yankuba Darboe told The Standard.

Mr Darboe, himself a lawyer and an executive member of the UDP, said their arrest demonstrated “an abuse of the judicial process”.

“The whole world now knows the same system which abetted and aided the Jammeh dictatorship is still here under the leadership of IGP Mamour Jobe,” Darboe said. 

The group has been granted bail, but asked to report to police Monday.

 Nominated member Ya-Kumba Jaiteh appeared to “show solidarity,” but declined to comment on the matter.

UDP activist Dodou Kassa Jaata, accused President Barrow of “masterminding the whole 3YJ legal troubles”.

“The police are doing this action [sic] because the head of state instructed them to do so” he claimed.

Under the Criminal Code, the group’s leaders could face up to a year in jail if convicted under unlawful assembly alone.

Other charges included riotous demolishing of buildings and rioting after proclamation.

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