By Yankuba Jallow
A trial magistrate in Kaur on Friday, 11th December acquitted and discharged Kebba Secka following the prosecution’s failure to establish a case against him.
Kebba Secka, a follower of Sering Ndigal, was charged with obstruction of a police officer while executing his lawful duty following his encounter with the police at his hometown, Kerr Mot Hali, in Upper Saloum, Central River Region. The journalist pleaded not guilty and the court called upon the prosecution to open their case. Three witnesses were called by the prosecution and when the prosecution closed their case on the 26th November 2020, Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe, defence counsel, made a ‘no case to answer’ submission. Jobe contended that his client has no case to answer thus he urged the court to acquit and discharge him in respect of the charge.
Police prosecutor Sub-Inspector Manga contended that a case has been established against Secka which will require him to enter his defence.
The trial magistrate, Magistrate Sambou said section 166 of the Criminal Code empowers the court the power to look at the evidence adduced by the prosecution in relation to the charge against the accused person.
Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code makes provision for acquittal and discharge of accused person when there is no case to answer. It reads:
“If at the close of the evidence in support of the charge, it appears to the court that a case is not made out against the accused person sufficiently to require him or her to make a defence, the court shall, as to that particular charge, acquit him or her.”
The magistrate said in this respect the court would look into the evidence adduced by the prosecution – the actus reus and mens rea of the offence charge – meaning whether the prosecution has established that the accused person committed the offence with a guilty mind.
Magistrate Sambou held that if any of the two is missing or both is missing, the accused person cannot be called upon to open his or her defence, instead the court shall acquit and discharge the accused person.
The adjudicator said instead of proving the offence as charged, the prosecution witnesses were talking about the COVID-19 emergency regulations in their evidence.
“The prosecution did not prove the basic elements of the offence,” Magistrate Sambou ruled.
He said the prosecution has failed to make a prima facie case against Secka to warrant him to open his defence.
He invoked section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code to acquit and discharge Kebba Secka for the offence he was charged with.
Readers would recall that Secka is one of the followers of Sering Ndigal’s teachings and practice. The Ndigal followers were persecuted by the former regime and until today, they are living in exile in Senegal. The Banjul High Court on the 12th October 2020 delivered a judgment in favour of the Ndigal followers that they are Gambians and have the right to return to The Gambia, occupy their land as well as take over their properties. The police were restrained by the court not to stop them from coming back to the Gambia and take over their properties. The police intervention unit however established a checkpoint there and it was the same place where he got the problem.