By Mariama Marong
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of Banjul High Court on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 granted bail to Omar Kujabi alias Baitullah Junior.
The State has pressed six (6) criminal charges against 45-year-old Omar Kubaji alias Baitullah Junior. The charges are two counts of sedition, threatening violence, publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public and internet-related offence 173A (1) (1) of the Criminal Code.
Baitullah Junior is a resident of Kafuta and a support of former President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh. He is known for his commentary over social media calling for the homecoming of former President Yahya Jammeh The Quranic teacher is famous for his expressions over social media criticizing the regime. Baitullah Junior is renowned for his frequent commentary on social media about political matters and his criticism of the regime. He imitates one Omar Sanneh alias Baitullah who is currently in exile in Senegal.
Lawyer Lamin J. Darboe made the bail application on behalf of the Kafuta born. Justice Jaiteh said there is merit in the bail application made by Counsel Darboe and he granted him bail with one Gambian surety and a bail bond of one hundred thousand dalasis (D100,000).
“The state has no authority to have the accused person ( Omar Kujabi) in a cell because all his charges are bailable offences,” Justice Jaiteh said.
Justice Jaiteh said Baitullah Junior cannot take his plea on the charges because the bill of indictment was filed by State Counsel S. Camara without written consent from the Attorney General. The Judge pointed out that counts one and two are incompetent and he cannot consider a sedition charge without written consent from the Attorney General.
“Count 1 and count 2 are incompetent in the absence of written consent from the Attorney General. You cannot prosecute a sedition case in court without the consent of the Attorney General,” Jaiteh said.
The bail application was not opposed by the State. Justice Jaiteh granted bail on the reasons that the charges before him are all bailable, the State did not oppose the bail application and he has already refused the bill of indictment.
Justice Jaiteh said if the State fails to provide the written consent of the Attorney General he will strike out counts 1 and 2. He added that at this stage he considers the two charges incompetent.
According to the prosecution, Omar is a strong supporter of Former President Yahya Jammeh and he released WhatsApp audios around October 2022 after the death of the 69 children from AKI. In the first audio, the prosecution alleged that he was calling for people to come and massively protest against the government if they fail to tackle the death of 69 children. Also, the prosecution alleged that Baitullah Junior threatened that President Barrow must step down to pave way for former President Jammeh to come back and assume office.
In his second audio, the prosecution alleged that he asked President Barrow to vacate office and went further to threaten police officers.
In his third and final audio, the prosecution alleged that Omar realized his mistake and apologized to President Barrow and his servicemen and all Gambians. He also vowed not to engage in any political dealings, but while at a naming ceremony in Sotokoi village on 7 November 2022, he was arrested by the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force.
According to the particulars of the offences, the prosecution alleged that Omar Kujabi sometime in September and October 2022, at Kafula Village and diverse places in the West Coast Region with seditions intention made several WhatsApp audios calling on the people to go out to the streets and march to the State House to unlawfully remove the government of President Adama Barrow.
Also, the prosecution alleged that Omar Kujabi sometime in September and October 2022 at Kafuta Village made a WhatsApp audio calling for the unlawful removal of President Adama Barrow and which statement was meant to bring into hatred, contempt and excite disaffection against the person of President Adama Barrow.
The prosecution alleged that Baitullah Junior also with intent to intimidate and annoy threatened to assault officers of the Police Intervention Unit who were sent to arrest.
Furthermore, the prosecution alleged that Baitullah Junior did the publication of false news with the intent to cause fear and alarm to the public and release WhatsApp audio calling for an unlawful takeover of the government of President Adama Barrow and the state.
The prosecution alleged that Baitullah Junior used WhatsApp audio, an internet platform to threaten to assault officers of the Police Intervention Unit for providing security to President Adama Barrow.
The case is adjourned to the 13 of March at 1 pm for plea taking and mentioning.