By Landing Ceesay
Amie Bojang, the second accused in the Sukuta Jabang Traffic Lights murder trial at the High Court of the Gambia, has applied for bail pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Bojang is charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder under Section 202 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 10:01, Vol. III, Laws of the Gambia. She is accused of aiding the first accused, Ousainou Bojang, in evading punishment for an alleged offense at the Sukuta Jabang Traffic Lights.
Supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit from Mariama Bah, a legal assistant at Mari Bantang Chambers, Bojang’s bail application was presented by Counsel Lamin K. Mboge. The application raises the question of whether Bojang is entitled to bail pending the main trial.
Mboge argued, “We submit that the Applicant (Amie Bojang) is entitled to bail pending the hearing and determination of the main suit. My Lord, Section 19 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia guarantees the Applicant’s right to liberty like any other person in the Gambia. Thus, Section 19(1) of the constitution states that: every person shall have the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as established by law. This makes it a fundamental right to be granted bail.”
Counsel L.K. Mboge contended that the primary purpose of holding Amie Bojang in custody until the conclusion of the trial is to ensure her presence in court throughout the case’s final resolution.
Referring to the High Court’s stance in Ousman Badjie V. the State and citing the precedent of Dokubo Asari v. FRN (2007) Vol. 152 LRCN 166 @125 ratio 10, Counsel L.K. Mboge emphasized the discretionary nature of granting bail under Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
He argued for the Court to exercise its discretion judiciously in favor of granting bail to Amie Bojang until the main case is heard and decided.
Counsel L.K. Mboge asserted that the presumption of innocence is in Amie Bojang’s favor, citing Section 24 (3) (a) of the 1997 Constitution, which declares an accused person innocent until proven guilty.
Additionally, Counsel L.K. Mboge highlighted in the supporting affidavit that Amie Bojang has been medically confirmed as an asthmatic patient suffering from hypertension.
“My Lord, the Applicant (Amie Bojang) is a mother of 7 (seven) children and cannot in any way abscond and leave her children behind. She has a strong family ties in the community and has no interest in absconding or leaving the jurisdiction before the trial is completed. The Applicant will not interfere with any of the witnesses while on bail and will not be able to tamper with the investigation, which has since concluded.
“My Lord, the Applicant (Amie Bojang) also has sureties who are willing and able to fulfill reasonable conditions imposed by the court in the event bail is granted. The mere fact that people are on standby eagerly to act as sureties is a demonstration that the Applicant has their full trust and confidence,” Counsel L.K. Mboge argued.
Amie Bojang’s request for bail prompted the State Prosecutor to submit a counter-affidavit, urging the court to reject the application. The prosecution asserts that Section 19(1) of the Constitution unambiguously allows for the deprivation of an individual’s liberty in accordance with established legal procedures.
Additionally, the prosecution contends that Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code explicitly stipulates that a person facing charges punishable by death or imprisonment is not entitled to bail.
“The Applicant (Amie Bojang) is charged under S. 202 of the Criminal Code for the offence of accessory after the fact to murder, which is a felony punishable with Imprisonment for life. Accordingly, the combined effect of Section 19(1) of the Constitution, 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and 202 of the Criminal Code, it is undoubtedly clear that the applicant is not entitled to bail, and as such, the Honourable Court is enjoined to hold the same and refuse the application,” the Prosecution contended.
Hon. Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court of the Gambia adjourned the case to November 20, 2023, at 10 am for a ruling on the application.
Background of the Case
On September 21, 2023, Ousainou and Amie Bojang made their initial appearance before Principal Magistrate Omar Jabang of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court, facing charges related to the shooting incident at Sukuta Jabang Traffic Lights, which resulted in the tragic deaths of two PIU officers and severe injury to another on September 12, 2023.
Initially, the police had lodged four charges against the accused, including two murder charges, an act of terrorism charge, and an accessory after the fact to murder charge. Subsequently, Principal Magistrate Omar Jabang transferred the murder trial to the Special Criminal Division of the High Court of The Gambia.
On October 12, 2023, the case was presented before Hon. Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court of The Gambia.
On October 19, 2023, the State brought six charges against Ousainou Bojang, the prime suspect in the deaths of two Police Intervention Unit (PIU) officers, and a single charge against his elder sister, Amie Bojang.
On October 24, 2023, both Ousainou Bojang and Amie Bojang entered pleas of not guilty to the charges. Subsequently, the state presented its first prosecution witness.
The case has been adjourned to November 7, 2023, for the cross-examination of the first prosecution witness and the continuation of the hearing.