By Landing Ceesay
The Chairman of the Brikama Area Council (BAC), Lawyer Yankuba Darboe has filed a motion on notice for Magistrate M. L. Thomasi to recuse himself from the Inspector General of Police’s (IGP) sedition case against him.
The sedition case brought by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) against Lawyer Yankuba Darboe, who also serves as the Chairman of the Brikama Area Council (BAC), resumed today at the Banjul Magistrate’s Court.
A significant crowd of United Democratic Party (UDP) supporters and West Coast Region residents gathered at the court to show their support for Chairman Yankuba Darboe.
During the continuation of the case, Counsel Lamin S. Camara, representing Chairman Yankuba Darboe, informed the court that his client had filed a Motion on Notice.
Counsel Camara proceeded to explain that Chairman Yankuba Darboe had sworn a 31-paragraph affidavit, with particular emphasis on paragraphs 1 to 10, which provide the background and history of the case dating back to 2021.
Furthermore, Counsel Camara pointed out that paragraphs 12 to 31 of Chairman Yankuba Darboe’s affidavit detailed the court’s ruling, delivered on August 17th, 2023, and the subsequent appeal filed on August 28th, 2023.
Chairman Yankuba Darboe’s request to the court was for Magistrate M. L. Thomasi to recuse himself from further involvement in the hearing and determination of the charges against him.
On August 28th, 2023, Chairman Yankuba Darboe filed an appeal against the court’s decision that he should open his defense in the case.
Additionally, Counsel Camara requested the court to stay the hearing and determination of the charges against Chairman Yankuba Darboe pending the outcome of the appeal he filed at the High Court of the Gambia regarding the ruling on the no case to answer submission.
In response to the motion filed by Chairman Darboe’s legal team, the prosecution expressed no objection, clarifying that the motion pertains to the court proceedings, not the prosecution’s case. Magistrate M. L. Thomasi accepted the motion and its accompanying documents.
In his affidavit supporting the motion, Chairman Yankuba Darboe expressed his dissatisfaction with the ruling on his no case to answer submission and stated that he had filed an appeal to the High Court of the Gambia on August 28th, 2023. He expressed discomfort with Magistrate M. L. Thomasi’s handling of the case, asserting that the magistrate had made determinations about the entire trial in the no case to answer ruling.
Chairman Yankuba Darboe also contended that Magistrate Thomasi had considered a contempt of court charge that was not before the court, emphasizing that he was not charged with any offense related to contempt of court before Magistrate Thomasi.
He further alleged that Magistrate Thomasi had pre-determined the case’s outcome without allowing him to present his defense.
“This Court has rendered my defence, if any, academic and an exercise in utter futility by the ruling. The Court considered extraneous matters in the ruling such matter not adduced by way of evidence before it. Having predetermined the matter at this stage, the Court cannot be seen to be impartial in this matter anymore. It is therefore in the interest of justice to recuse yourself from this matter.
“I do not have any confidence in this court anymore, as it has already pronounced that the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant a conviction. The Court has overreached the issues for determination before it at this juncture. The ruling delivered in the No case to answer submission amounts to final judgment in this matter. In the light of these serious pronouncements on the threshold of proof, this court cannot impartially and fairly adjudicate the matter,” Chairman Yankuba Darboe said in his affidavits supporting the motion on notice.
Chairman Darboe further stated that one of his lawyers, Counsel K. Jallow, informed him, and he verily believes it to be true that the Court has the powers to grant his application.
Chairman Darboe said the prosecution will not be prejudiced if his application is granted.
Chairman Darboe further asserted that the application is made in his best interest and in good faith. He also said that he makes these statements to the best of his ability, knowledge, and belief.
On March 9, 2021, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) initiated a criminal lawsuit against Yankuba Darboe, bringing forth two charges against him.
The prosecution alleged that on February 10, 2021, Yankuba Darboe committed an offense by using disparaging language directed at both the President of the Gambia, Adama Barrow, and the Judiciary of the Gambia.
On September 28, 2022, after the prosecution closed its case, Chairman Yankuba Darboe’s legal team informed the court that they intended to file a no-case-to-answer submission. The court ordered that a formal application be filed and adjourned the matter to October 18, 2022, for the adoption of briefs on the no-case-to-answer submission.
On October 10, 2022, Chairman Yankuba Darboe and his legal team filed their no-case-to-answer submission in respect of the two counts charged. The submission was served on the prosecution.
The prosecution filed its reply to the no-case-to-answer submission on October 25, 2022. Chairman Yankuba Darboe and his legal team filed a reply on points of law against the prosecution’s brief.
After nearly three years since the charges were filed, the court ruled on August 17, 2023, that Chairman Yankuba Darboe must present his defense, overturning his application for a no-case-to-answer.
On August 31, 2023, Chairman Yankuba Darboe appeared in court to commence his defense, but the case could not proceed. Many political and social commentators characterized the case’s revival as a politically motivated pursuit against him.
Chairman Yankuba Darboe and his legal team have lodged an appeal with the High Court of the Gambia, contesting Magistrate M. L. Thomasi’s ruling on his no case to answer submission.
The case has been adjourned, and a ruling on the motion filed by Chairman Yankuba Darboe and his legal team is scheduled for September 25, 2023.