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Court rules that Abdoulaye Thiam’s witness has no excuse to avoid question

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By Bruce Asemota

The High Court, presided over by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh, has ruled that a witness called by Abdoulaye Thiam must answer questions put to him by Lawyer L. S. Camara, counsel for Aisha Fatty as to whether he declared the jewelries at the point of entry into the Gambia from Senegal.

Justice Jaiteh’s ruling came following objection by Thiame’s lawyers who argued that answering such a question will implicate the witness.

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The witness had testified that he was sent by the plaintiff, Abdoulaye Thiam to bring some jewelries from Senegal to Aisha Fatty in The Gambia.

However, when the witness was asked by defence counsel, L. S. Camara if he declared these jewelries at the point of entry into the Gambia to the Customs and Excise, Thiame’s lead counsel, L. A. Ceesay raised an objection on the grounds that the question asked by Lawyer Camara seeks to incriminate the witness if answered.

Lawyer Camara opposed the objection and submitted that the matter before the court is not a criminal case rather civil and argued that the rule on self-incriminating in criminal is different in civil.

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However, the presiding judge in his ruling disclosed that the question as to whether the witness declared these jewelries at the point of entry into the Gambia to the Customs and Excise solicits a simple answer of either yes or no.

Justice Jaiteh further disclosed that if the witness answered yes, then the Gambia Revenue Authority may become interested in the matter for tax purposes and may institute a suit to recover tax.

Justice Jaiteh said the witness is not excused from answering the question under section 178 of the Evidence Act.

The judge said that the witness is bound to answer the question, notwithstanding that it might expose the witness to a civil suit by the state.

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