Protocol Officer Testifies in Remanded Taranga FM Manager’s Trial


By Mamadou Dem At the trial of of Abdoulie Ceesay, Managing Director of Taranga FMAlhaji Abdoulie Ceesay, Manager Teranga FM radio yesterday 14th September, 2015 the second witness, Fatou A Drammeh, Protocol Officer at the office of the President testified as a prosecution witness. The ruling on the pending application for bail is scheduled forWednesday 16 September. Mr. Ceesay was denied bail by the lower court in Banjul. Dissatisfied with the lower court verdict, his attorney Combeh Gaye Coker  filed a motion at the high court seeking for his release on bail which was also quashed by the superior court. However, barrister Gaye has once again pushed for bail at the high court in Banjul urging the court to protect the fundamental and constitutional rights of her client as stipulated under section 24 of the 1997 constitution. The trial judge is now Justice Muhammed Dan Azumi Balarabe and Mr Hadi Saleh Barkun (DPP) is the Chief Prosecutor. In her evidence in chief, Ms. Drammeh told the court that she lives in New Jeswang and works as a protocol officer at the office of the president; adding that she knew the accused person through her colleague, Zainab Koneh who is also her friend. PW2 testified that she shared contacts with the accused. “Few days later, he (Ceesay) called me and told me he was travelling to America. I wished him good luck and he promised to call me back because he wanted reconciliation with my friend, Zainab Koneh,” said the witness. According to the witness, at the time he knew the accused person, he was in a relationship with Ms. Koneh and about two to three days later, the accused called her with a New York number. “I stored the number and we started chatting via whatsapp. I also told him that I don’t trust him as well.” She added that she put it to the accused that the only thing people could do for him to talk to the friend (Koneh) is to be realistic. Ms. Drammeh further explained to the court that about two to three weeks later, the accused called him with an Africell number. “He called me but I rejected the call and I sent him a message even though I had his number, I asked who are you? He said it’s me Alagie. I said what happened, you spent two to three weeks and you are back. Are you deported? He (the accused) said he was not deported but was back to sort out certain problems,” testified the witness. Ms. Drammeh continued: “ He (the accused) told me he works for a Company called Oracle which paid sixty percent of his air ticket. He told me that he is an American Citizen and wanted me to meet him somewhere for him to show me his passport but I told him that he can send it via whatsapp. I realised that he was not willing to do that.” The witness noted that she later asked the accused to stop sending messages to her because she did not want to communicate with him anymore. “Previously, I stored his name as Alagie until the day before Tobaski I changed the name to “Ala Fuck U,” PW2 expounded. According to the witness, she decided to change the name of the accused in her I Phone to the above name because he sent him two images of the President with some warning on it, telling us to stay at home on 22nd July, 2015 because sniper 15 was to kick out the dog. At that juncture, Attorney for Mr. Ceesay, Combeh Gaye Coker interjected and raised an objection to that piece of evidence given by the witness. She argued that the witness is not supposed to go into the content of the message allegedly sent by the accused to the witness on the ground that the prosecution has not tendered any exhibit containing the said words or images. “The witness cannot go into its content as reference. The telephone is not in court as evidence,” Lawyer Gaye insisted. Replying to the defence’s objection, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Hadi Saleh Barkun submitted that the defence was misconceiving the idea of ordinary documents and real evidence. “I urge the court to discountenance her objection and allow the witness to continue.” Justice Balarabe upheld the objection. Thereafter, DPP proceeded to lay the foundation in respect of the nature of the phone which was subsequently admitted in evidence as exhibit B2 upon identification by the witness. At that point, the witness was asked to show the court the application in which the alleged images of the President and warning were received and upon perusal by the presiding judge, the witness told the court that she received the said images on the 16th of July, 2015 around 13: 16. She added that she received another picture of the president with gun and bullets respectively at around 15:43 Reading from her I Phone 4 (exhibit B2) the witness said, “The sniper 15 advises all citizens and non citizens to stay at home on Wednesday the 22nd of July, 2015 as our struggle to kick off the dog, kicks off that very day. We are capable of doing anything and it might start from the celebration ground, please stay at home for your safety.” PW2 testified that after she allegedly received the text from the accused, she replied and said, “Hey what the fuck is this? Who the hell are you?” When asked by the DPP the reasons for using such words, she said “I was shocked because I do not know why he sent a message like this.” She said further: “The accused then said to me, I am sorry about these pictures. I was not sending them to you. ‘I was dissatisfied with the words you used on me that was the least I expected from a lady like you. I am sure am older than you are but I’ve given you all due respect but if I offended you by mistakenly sending that to your phone, I am sorry for that.’” The DPP at that stage applied for the court to give an order for the conversation that transpired between the accused and the witness on the 16th of July this year be transcribed and printed for proper evaluation by the court. Lawyer Gaye submitted that she was vehemently opposed to that application on grounds that the I Phone belonging to the witness is already an exhibit and is in the custody of the court; adding that the phone belongs to the court till the completion of the case. She argued that the telephone must remain in court because they will be using it to cross examine the witness. Barrister Gaye further submitted to the court that the procedure for production of evidence from electronic devices is well governed and regulated by the Evidence Act. She then referred the court to section 22 of the Evidence Act. She said the DPP’s application lacks merit and it is an unknown procedure of the courts. She said the proper procedure is to call a competent witness to tell the court how the electronic information was received in the phone. “The liberty of my client is at stake and I would not take anything for granted,” Barrister Gaye emphasized. Counter replying to that objection, DPP submitted that if the information is left in the phone, there is likelihood of the battery running down or requiring password; adding that section 22 is of no relevance in this case. The trial Judge upheld DPP’s application and ordered both parties to apply in order to get the substance upon transcription. Consequently, the matter was adjourned till Wednesday 16th of this month for ruling on the bail application and continuation of hearing. Prior to PW2’s testimony, the DPP applied for the seven counts amended information or charge be read to the accused person. However Mr. Ceesay maintained his plea of not guilty. The new bill of indictment filed by the state before the high court alleged in counts two, four and seven that Mr. Ceesay had intent to excite disaffection against President Yahya Jammeh, distributed a seditious phrase to wit read: “The sniper is hereby advises all citizens and non citizens to stay at their homes on Wednesday, the 22nd of July, 2015 as our struggle to kick off the dog, begins that very day and we are capable of doing anything and it might start from the celebration ground. Please be at your homes for your safety Signed by sniper 3 {sic}.” Counts one, three, five and six are similar to the initial charge he was being tried on at the magistrate’s court in Banjul except publication of false news which also read as those of counts two, four and seven.  ]]>