By Nelson Manneh
The Banjul High Court has on Monday, 24th February 2020 granted bail to the chairman and other members of 3 Years Jotna Movement.
These people were arrested on the 26th January 2020 following their protest on the aforesaid day in which they demanded for President Adama Barrow to honour his campaign promise to serve only for three (3) years.
According to the bail condition, each of the accused persons were to bring two Gambian sureties who shall deposit their national documents and signed a bail bond of D200,000.
The accused persons are; Abdou Njie, the chairman of the movement, Ebrima Kitim Jarju, Sheriffo Sonko, Hagi Suwaneh (the spokesperson), Fanta Mballow, Karim Touray, Yankuba Darboe (alias Yanks Darboe) and Muctarr Ceesay.
The grant of the bail came after the prosecution dropped the third (3rd) criminal charge which was ‘Rioters Demolishing Structures” which attracts a life imprisonment sentence. It was the prosecutions’ initial argument that any charge that attracts life imprisonment is not bailable and therefore, the court should refuse the defence’s application for bail.
The application to have the third (3rd) count dropped was not objected by the defence and the charge was eventually withdrawn.
This line of information prompted the trial judge to grant bail to the accused persons accordingly. Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay said the accused persons must deposit their national documents to the registrar of the high court, each of the sureties must swear to an affidavit of means and the accused persons must appear before the court if needed.
The State lawyers applied for adjournment for 30 days. Their application was granted by the court and the matter was adjourned to 30th March 2020 at 10 am for the accused persons to take their plea on each of the charges.
The accused persons were first arraigned at the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court on the 29th January on three criminal counts, namely unlawful Assembly, rioting after proclamation and rioters demolishing structures. The matter was transferred to the High Court because the lower court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case.
On the charge of unlawful assembly, the accused persons are alleged to have jointly and unlawfully taken part in an unlawful assembly on the 26th January 2020.
On the second charge, rioting after proclamation, the accused persons are alleged to have continued with their protest by disregarding the proclamation made by Deputy Superintendent of Police Alagie Jallow in the name of the President of the Republic to disperse peacefully.
On the final charge, rioters demolishing structures, the accused persons are alleged to have assembled together and unlawfully destroyed the Gambia Technical Training Institute students’ waiting shed by setting it on fire.