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City of Banjul
Monday, October 18, 2021

Court says it has power to preside over caliph’s trial

On Monday 28 July, senior defence counsel  Antouman Gaye made an application challenging the court’s original jurisdiction over the matter saying: “I would like the court to refer the case to the Supreme Court of The Gambia for the court’s interpretation of the following questions under the constitution:

1. Whether or not by the laws which are the contemplation of section 7 of the 1997 constitution the offence charged in count two (not withstanding its incompetence as a charge) is inconsistent with and contrary to section 251C of the constitution and therefore null and void? If the answer to this is affirmative then whether count one is maintainable against the accused person. The application is made under section 127 of the constitution. I believe the matter lies on our side.”

Prior to the magistrate’s pronouncement of judgement on the application Lawyer Lamin Mboge prayed: “With the discretion of the court and the counsel the court has the power to grant adjournment before the ruling is delivered to allow the defense counsel to make further address on the application .It will be highly prejudiced to deliver judgment when the defence is planning to make further address on that particular ruling”.

Replying, prosecutor Chief Inspector Touray said he had no objection to the application for adjournment but added he was opposed to the application for further address on the application by the defence.

Disposing of the defence application, Magistrate Omar Cham asserted: “I agree with the defence that the supreme court has the original jurisdiction over the matter but it is when the issue is   ambiguous and a subject of debate that it goes to the supreme court for interpretation. This court has the power to preside over this case because the charge is properly laid.”

The caliph of Darsilami, Foni Sagnajor, Muhideen Hydara and alkalo Buyeh Touray are being tried on a solitary count of conspiracy to commit misdemeanour. The case resumes September 18.


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