By Yankuba Jallow & Nelson Manneh
Abdoulie Saine, an ex-National Assembly member for Banjul Central has on Tuesday, 5th March 2019, begun giving testimony in his criminal trial before the Banjul Magistrates Court.
The former National Assembly Member for Banjul Central faces two counts: Count One is on incitement to violence and Count two, on seditious intention.
According to the particulars of offence on Count 1, Abdoulie Saine on or about the 2nd of November 2018, in the City of Banjul, without lawful excuse and with intent to incite violence, uttered a statement on ‘WhatsApp’ audio, using abusive and derogative remarks against an entire tribe, stating their selfishness, hypocrisy and wickedness.
On Count 2, Abdoulie Saine on the same day and place without lawful excuse and with intent to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between the different classes of the population of The Gambia, uttered a statement on ‘WhatsApp’ audio using abusive and derogative remarks against an entire tribe, stating their selfishness, hypocrisy and wickedness.
When the case was called before Magistrate T. Wilson, Lawyer Mosses B. Johnson-Richards announced representation for the accused person (Honourable Saine) whereas the prosecution (the representation of the Inspector General of Police) was nowhere to be seen in court.
Lawyer Mosses B. Johnson Richards told the court that he is ready to proceed with the case of the defence in the absence of the prosecution. The trial Magistrate granted the request and ordered for the case to proceed.
In his testimony, the first defence witness, Abdoulie Saine said he lives at number 16 Essa Faal Street in Banjul. He added that he is a professional mechanical engineer and now an active politician. He told the court that he was the National Assembly Member for Banjul Central for 10 years and a former member of ECOWAS Parliament representing The Gambia.
“Can you tell the court what happened on that fateful day of the 2nd day of September 2018 that brought about the allegation levied against you by the police?” asked Lawyer Johnson-Richards.
In his response, the NAM said he received a call from Deputy Commissioner of Police Abdoulie Sanneh (who was the first prosecution witness in this case) who informed him that he was the one who released a ‘WhatsApp” audio that was circulating.
“Did you release audio?” The Lawyer asked.
“No,” the witness replied.
“Did you publish audio?” The Lawyer asked.
“No,” the witness replied.
He said Sanneh also informed him that he wants them to discuss the matter (the audio allegation). He added that Sanneh then sent an officer named Suso who came to his residence to go with him to the Banjul Police Station.
“Sanneh told me that he is doing this for my personal safety,” the witness adduced.
He said when Suso came to his house, Sanneh called him and asked him to wait for him. He said when Sanneh reached his home, he was told by Sanneh that he was going to the Banjul Station but instead took him to Bijilo where he was detained.
The witness said he was put at the front of the vehicle whereas the two junior officers who accompanied Sanneh sat at the back.
In explaining how Sanneh changed his route, the witness said from his house Sanneh turned right towards Crab Island School and this was not a route that goes to the Banjul Police Headquarters. He added that at this juncture, he realised that something was wrong because Sanneh drove to the Serrekunda highway. He said he then used his phone and informed the APRC interim party leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta about the situation.
“Where did they take you on that night of the 2nd September 2018,” he asked
The witness replied that he was taken to a place in Bijilo,
“This was the place where the APRC green youths used to camp and it is now turned in to a detention camp,” he said.
He said Sanneh then took his phone from him and informed him that he was under arrest after making the call. He told the court that Sanneh took two of his phones from him and denied him the chance to call his lawyer to inform him.
He said Sanneh’s phone later rang and was talking to someone superior to him taking command.
“Sanneh told him (the caller), ‘that senior we have got him and I know where to take him,” the witness said.
He said he was then taken to the Bijilo ‘detention centre’ by Sanneh and his men and handed over to the officer on duty.
“When you were taken to the Bijilo ‘Detention Centre’ were you processed,” asked the Lawyer.
“I was not processed, I was only kept there,” the witness replied.
The matter was then adjourned till the 12th of March 2019 at 2 pm for the continuation of hearing.