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GAMBIA: MAGISTRATE COURT SUMMONSED DLEAG CHIEFS FOR DEFIANCE OF COURT ORDER ON 2 PREVIOUS OCCASIONS

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After defying his instructions to release accused drug sellers, Principal Magistrate Jabang has issued an order compelling the Director General of The Gambia’s Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) and his Deputy to appear before him on September 21, 2023.

Paulo Djabi, Nadine Pereira, MamaduNeto Djabi, and SecunaJabi were among those held. They were granted bail, but the DLEAG has not followed through on the court’s decision to release them on bail.

The Bundung Magistrate’s Court granted them bail at first, but they were not freed. The case was moved to the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court, but the narcotics cops have yet to comply with the court’s orders.
Magistrate Jabang ordered the Director General and Deputy Director General to appear in court and explain why they should not be charged with contempt of court. Magistrate Jabang reiterated his instructions to the police to release the four (4) accused individuals.

“The Gambia is a country governed by the rule of law, and all individuals and institutions must adhere to legal and just principles.” The independence and protection of the judiciary as provided by the Constitution, that government departments and agencies, including the DLEAG, shall respect and comply to court rulings,” stated Principal Magistrate Jabang.

The court ruling against the director general and his subordinate was obtained via an ex-parte plea requesting a court order for the accused people’ immediate release from police custody.

An affidavit sworn to by Catherine Fatty, a legal clerk at Dandimayo Chambers, backed the motion. According to her declaration, the accused were imprisoned for many days before being tried in court on September 4, 2023. They were all charged with 15 felony offenses and pled not guilty to all of them.

On September 12, 2023, the Bundung Magistrate’s Court granted them bail, but shortly after leaving the courthouse, the accused were re-arrested and brought to an unknown location by security personnel.

Fatty went on to say that the accused were brought before the Kanifing Court on September 13, 2023, facing charges under the Drug Control Act and the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act, to which they pleaded not guilty and were granted bail after fulfilling the bail conditions as ordered by the court.

She said that despite having satisfied the bail requirements and obtaining a court order for release, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG) asked that the accused accompany them to their offices to retrieve their possessions. The accused cooperated and proceeded to the DLEAG headquarters with their counsel, Lawyer Lamin S. Camara and subsequently, Lawyer Sheriff M. Tambadou.

“However, the respondent’s officers raised objections and posed queries regarding the release order, claiming that it was not specifically addressed to the Director and interpreting it in a manner that obstructed the release of the accused individuals,” she added.

Fatty reported that after almost two hours of waiting, the Deputy Director notified Counsel Tambadou that the accused persons would not be freed, to which Counsel Tambadou responded that until they were under arrest, they would all depart.

“The Deputy Director called Sheriff M. Tambadou and requested that the accused individuals return to the DLEAG headquarters with a stern warning.” “The Deputy Director also contacted Counsel L.S. Camara and threatened the accused individuals,” she added.

She went on to say that as a consequence, Lawyer Lamin Camara urged the accused to submit to the respondent (DLEAG), and that they have been detained since then. She added that the scenario violates the principles of the rule of law, indicates arbitrary behavior, and represents an infringement or abuse of the accused people’ legal rights.

Principal Magistrate Jabang provided context for the matter before him. He said that the defendants, Paulo Djabi, Nadine Pereira, MamaduNetoDjabi, and SecunaJabi, were arraigned in his court and pled not guilty to accusations ranging from conspiracy to possession of illegal narcotics and money laundering. The prosecuting officer for the DLEAG subsequently submitted a motion to transfer the matter to the High Court owing to jurisdictional concerns, and the accused people were remanded, according to Jabang. The defense filed an objection, and the court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the matter.

He said that the court granted bail to the accused after they met the bail requirements, but despite the court’s release order, the Deputy Director of the DLEAG refused to release the accused from detention.

Principal Magistrate Jabang ordered the DLEAG director general and his deputy to immediately release Paulo Djabi, Nadine Pereira, MamaduNetoDjabi, and SecunaJabi from detention in his verdict on the defence’s plea. He also ordered them to come before him on the next postponed date to explain why they should not be placed in contempt of court for disobeying the orders to release the accused on bail.

When the court’s process server arrived to serve the director general and his deputy, the director general told him that they had secured a stay of execution order from the high court in connection to the Magistrate’s decision for their release on bail.

The court bailiffs then told the DG that the Kanifing court had not received such a judgement from the High Court and that their role was to carry out the court’s order. Following considerable debate, the bailiffs agreed to return to the Kanifing court to check the DG’s assertion of a stay of execution. When they arrived at the Kanifing court, they discovered that no such order had been referred to the Magistrate’s Court. The bailiffs will return to the DLEAG headquarters today to serve the court order against the director general and his deputy.

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