17 July 2017

Gambia: 'Prosecution Is Confused As to What to Do', Says Defence Counsel

Sheriff Kumba Jobe, the defence counsel in the case involving Babucarr Njie, a soldier who was found with a pistol at the King Fahd Mosque in Banjul, on 13 July 2017, said before Magistrate Janneh-Njie of the Banjul Magistrates' Court that the prosecution was "confused as to what to do".

He made this remark when Sub-Inspector Bojang applied for an adjournment, and subsequently made another application under section 177 of the CPC to further make some argument, instead of section 117.

But Magistrate Janneh-Njie cautioned him that he had already made an application for an adjournment.

When the case was called, Sub-Inspector Bojang rose and said he was representing the IGP.

Sheriff Kumba Jobe announced his representation for the accused.

Sub-Inspector Bojang told the court that the prosecution could not proceed with the case, because the prosecution witness had travelled to the provinces.

He said the witness' wife gave birth, adding that he was yet to report to their office.

He informed the court that he called the witness and told him about the case but he could not make it to the court. He subsequently applied for an adjournment.

In response, Sheriff Kumba Jobe, told the court that this was the third time the matter was suffering a setback at the instance of the prosecution.

He argued that on 28 June 2017, the prosecution said the witness was sick without producing a medical certificate.

He said the case was then scheduled to come on 4 July 2017, but could not proceed because there was an event at the High Court, and they took a date with the clerk which was 6 July 2017.

He posited that a day before 6 July 2017, the prosecution called him and said the matter should be adjourned, adding that he made it known to the prosecutor that circumstances compelled him to adjourn the case to 13 July 2017, only to come and say the same witness had travelled to the provinces in observance of a naming ceremony.

The defence counsel adduced that it was on the same basis the prosecutor convinced him to have the matter adjourned till 6 July 2017.

He added that it was unacceptable for the prosecutor to come to court and givethe same excuse.

Counsel Jobe said he was opposing the adjournment application made by the prosecution.

He argued that the accused has constitutional right to be accorded fair trial within a reasonable time.

He submitted that the court should bear in mind that the necessity to ensure speedy trial is of paramount importance to a fair hearing.

He posited that further adjournment would delay the matter, thus the consequence was that it would deny the accused the right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Counsel Jobe adduced that the court could take judicial notice that the accused was never absent in court, adding that the case was always adjourned at the instance of the prosecution.

He said further that the accused was always present, despite that he is serving the Gambia Armed Forces and would abandon his work to come to court.

Counsel Jobe adduced that granting the application made by the prosecution was entirely the discretion of the court, adding that the exercise of the discretion must be done judicially and judiciously.

He argued that there was no circumstance before the court to grant the application of the prosecution. He also urged the court not to grant the application.

At this juncture, Sub-Inspector Bojang rose to make some argument, but he was saved from missing the point by Superintendent Mballow who intervened and said he was representing the IGP.

Superintendent Mballow said they were withdrawing the application to adjourn the case, on the grounds that the witness was out of the jurisdiction of the court.

He added that it was the interest of justice to withdraw the application for an adjournment. He said the witness was competent and had already testified.

He urged the court to issue a subpoena for the witness to appear in court to be cross-examined.

Magistrate Janneh-Njie ruled that if the witness failed to appear in court on the next adjourned date, a bench warrant would be issued for his arrest.

The case was adjourned until 18 July 2017.

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