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GAMBIA: MAGISTRATE THOMASI DIRECTS YANKUBA DARBOE TO START HIS DEFENCE IN SEDITION CASE BROUGHT UP AGAINST HIM BY IGP

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Magistrate M. L. Thomasi of the Banjul Magistrates Court has directed Lawyer Yankuba Darboe, the Chairman of Brikama Area Council (BAC), to commence his defense in the Sedition and Contempt of Court charges brought against him by the Inspector General of Police on March 9, 2021.

The charges brought against Yankuba Darboe include sedition under Section 52 (1)(b) of the Criminal Code Volume 3 Laws of The Gambia 2009 and contempt of court under Sections 106 (d) and (I) of the Criminal Code Volume 3 Laws of The Gambia. The prosecution alleges that on February 10, 2021, Yankuba Darboe made derogatory statements against the President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow, and the Gambian Judiciary.

After presenting their witnesses, the prosecution closed its case, prompting Yankuba Darboe’s legal team to file a “no case to answer” application.

Following the submission of arguments by both parties, Magistrate M. L. Thomasi delivered a ruling on August 17, 2023. He determined that Yankuba Darboe was charged under the Criminal Code, not the Public Order Act, and that the evidence presented by the prosecution linked him to the alleged offenses. Magistrate Thomasi cited an audiovisual recording (Exhibit A) containing statements made by Yankuba Darboe in the Mandinka language as evidence. Witness testimonies confirmed that the voice on the recording belonged to him.

“Exhibit A is the recorded audiovisual of the accused (Yankuba Darboe) himself uttering such statements. These are found to be contrary to Section 51 (1) (A) and (C) and Section 52 B of the Criminal Code. The audiovisual recording, which is Exhibit A, contains vernacular utterances in the Mandinka language by the accused (Yankuba Darboe),” Magistrate M. L. Thomasi said.  

Magistrate M. L. Thomasi further stated that the prosecution witnesses have testified under oath that it was Yankuba Darboe’s voice, which they heard over various media platforms in which Yankuba Darboe was on record. 

Magistrate M. L. Thomasi said the witness statement of the fourth prosecution witness corroborates exhibit A and the recording on media platforms heard or seen by other prosecution witnesses, so much so that, the establishment of a prima facie case has been fulfilled by the prosecution.

“Furthermore, it is without doubt that count 2, which is contempt of court, is captioned in the utterances of the accused (Yankuba Darboe) castigating the judicial system and the administration of justice, which includes adjudicators, the office of the Attorney General, amongst others. The judiciary is part and parcel of the administration of justice in the Gambia. The accused (Yankuba Darboe) is a citizen of the Republic of the Gambia, and the statements uttered are within this jurisdiction, in relation to an incident in which a Nolle Proseque application was granted,” Magistrate M. L. Thomasi stated in his ruling.  

The Magistrate continued that the litmus test or conditions to be fulfilled for an application of no case to answer to be upheld have been overshadowed by the prosecution, by not only establishing a prima facie case against Yankuba Darboe but has also shifted the burden of proof on the accused to enter his defense. 

Magistrate M. L. Thomasi said under cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses, the lawyers for Yankuba Darboe have not discredited the testimonies and evidence of the prosecution.  

He said Exhibit A is not denied by the defense; that is, the person seen making the “utterances is not Yankuba Darboe. 

Magistrate M. L. Thomasi said Yankuba Darboe tenders an apology to the Bar, Bench, and the Justice Delivery System including the citizenry, all sound and well. 

“It is inferred that “a dictator government being called Barrow can be no other person than the President of the Republic of the Gambia.” Be that as it may, the evidence before this court is found to be sufficient enough upon which the court can rely for a conviction, thereby rendering the no case to answer submission nugatory.

“The no case to answer submission does not subsist. The accused (Yankuba Darboe) is to enter and open his defense as he is found to have a case to answer as a prima facie case has been established against him,” Magistrate M. L. Thomasi ordered.  

On August 31, 2023, Yankuba Darboe was scheduled to commence his defense, but the proceedings were postponed. L. S. Camara, Yankuba Darboe’s lead counsel, requested an adjournment, explaining that he was unaware of the ruling on the “no case to answer” application. The court granted this request, rescheduling the case for September 7, 2023.

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