By Tabora Bojang
Former APRC parliamentarian Abdoulie Saine, who recorded a Whatsapp audio uttering ‘abusive and derogatory remarks against the entire Mandingo tribe’, has been charged with two counts of incitement to violence and seditious intention at the Banjul Magistrates Court yesterday.
When the case was called before Magistrate Tracy Davies-Wilson, his lawyer, Moses Richards, raised an objection for his client to be called for a plea-taking arguing that he was not granted adequate facility and time to go over the charge sheets and particulars of offence to prepare for a “reasonable” plea-taking as required by law.
He argued that it is a fundamental constitutional requirement for an accused person to be served copy of information on the charge sheet for a fair trial while urging the court to grant bail to his client before a plea-taking within which the prosecution will be able to grant them sufficient time and facility to take their position of guilt.
“Ten minutes before the court proceeds is not reasonable for my client to take his stance of guilt. I was here two hours and was never served. The section says ‘adequate time and facility’, and this is a fundamental requirement and must be executed accordingly,” the defence counsel told the court.
Police prosecutor ASP Amadou Keita, who appeared for the IGP, urged the court to overrule and object the assertions of the defence lawyer claiming it lacked merit since Section 24 is not applicable to a subordinate court, adding that it does not further state how much time should be given to the accused.
In his ruling the trial magistrate said the prosecution is not denying it only served the accused with the charge sheets 10 minutes before the court proceedings commenced saying this gives weight to the defence’s assertions and that both charges are bailable. He ruled for an adjournment to grant the accused enough time and facility to respond to the charges.
Saine was consequently bailed in the sum of D150,000 with two Gambian sureties aged 30 or above with a valid identity cards with each surety to depose to an affidavit of means.
According to the particulars of offence, on count one on incitement to violence Abdoulie Saine, “without lawful excuse and with intent to incite violence uttered a statement on Whatsapp audio using abusive and derogative remarks against the entire Mandingo (Sosseh) tribe stating that they are ‘selfish, hypocritical and wicked’.
He is also charged with another count of seditious intention contrary to section 5 1 (e) of the criminal code, laws of The Gambia 2009, with intent to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between the different classes of population of the Gambia.
The case resumes on Monday, 10 September.