UDP’s Ebrima Dibba Granted D100,000 Bail on Sedition Charge

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By Kemeseng Sanneh (Kexx)

Political commentator Ebrima Dibba of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has been granted bail by a trial magistrate in Banjul in the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dalasi equivalent to One Thousand Four Hundred and Seventy-Six Dollars ($1476.01).

Dibba appeared before Principal Magistrate Muhammed Krubally on a charge of seditious intention contrary to section 51 subsection (1) of the Criminal Code.

According to the particulars of the offence, Ebrima Dibba sometime in May 2024 in Banjul published a WhatsApp audio stating that the President is greedy and knows nothing, immature, exercises rudeness and foolishness, a statement calculated to bring into hatred, contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President or the Government.

The provision of the Criminal Code Ebrima Dibba is charged attracts a minimum of one-year prison term or fifty thousand dalasis or both fine and jail, if found guilty. 

Commissioner Abdoulie Sanneh and Assistant Superintendent Yaya S. Colley appeared for the Inspector General of Police while Senior Lawyer Bory S. Touray, Abdul Aziz Bensouda, Yakumba Jaiteh and Lawyer Lamin Fatty appeared for the accused person.

Senior Lawyer Bory S. Touray informed the court that they intend to challenge the charge before the accused person takes oath. Lawyer B.S. Touray submitted that the charge under which Ebrima Dibba was charge is a definition section. Lawyer Touray read sections 51 and 52 of the Criminal Code.

Section 51(1) provides that “Seditious intention” is an intention: (a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of the President, or the Government of The Gambia as by law established; (b) to excite the inhabitants of The Gambia to attempt to procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter in The Gambia as by law established; (c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in The Gambia; (d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the inhabitants of The Gambia; and  

(e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of The Gambia.

Section 52 is titled “Offences”. It provides that: “A person who (a) does or attempts to do, or makes any with any person to do any act with seditious intention; (b) utters any seditious words;

(c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication; imports any seditious publication, unless he or she has no reason to believe that it is seditious, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than fifty thousand dalasis and not more than two hundred and fifty thousand dalasis or imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or to both the fine and imprisonment, and the seditious publication shall be forfeited to the State.

Counsel Touray submitted that it is clear from the provision it is only a definition section and the actual provision where the offence is created and one can be charged with is Section 52. He added that it is clear that Section 52 is the correct provision criminalising sedition.

Counsel Borry Touray argued that the charge before the court is incompetent and should be struck out. He said the section does not give the power to the court to impose any criminal sanctions.

Police Commissioner Sanneh said the arguments of Counsel Borry were misleading and baseless, adding that the charge is proper. He referred the court to section 51 under which the accused is charged and further referred the court to section 52 which provides for the punishment. He argued that Counsel Touray misconceived the provision of the law, adding that the charge is competent.

The Magistrate said he will adjourn the case to rule on the matter. At this point, Lawyer Touray made an application for bail.

Counsel Touray said Ebrima Dibba is a family man with a wife, children and an executive member of the United Democratic Party. He indicated that Dibba would come to court on all hearing dates.

The police did not object to the bail application. The trial magistrate granted the application.

“I hereby exercise such discretion and admit the accused herein Ebrima Dibba bail in the sum of One Hundred Thousand Dalasi [D100,000] and the accused is ordered to provide a responsible Gambian surety who must be in the course of either business or employment and the surety shall provide to the court his or her correct contact number or numbers, valid address, provide his or her valid original ID Card or passport and swear to an affidavit of means that he or she will ensure the appearances of the accused in subsequent court proceedings at particular dates and times when required and further swear that he or she will forfeit the bail bond to the state in the event the accused fails to appear,” Magistrate Krubally ruled.

Counsel Borry further applied for the prosecution to provide the defence with a copy of the WhatsApp audio and its translations. He said they don’t want a trial by ambush.

Commissioner Sanneh said the audio is with Ebrima Dibba and it was published online. He added that Dibba has the audio in his phone.

“I ordered the prosecution to supply the defence any relevant document including the audio to be relied upon,” Principal Magistrate Krubally ordered.

The case will be coming today at 9 am. 

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