By Landing Ceesay
Corporal Omar Njie, the fourth accused person in the alleged coup plot, has been acquitted by Justice Basiru B.V.P. Mahoney of the High Court of The Gambia.
Four members of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF) and one member of the Gambia Police Force (GPF) are currently on trial for treason before Justice Mahoney of the High Court of the Gambia. The five defendants are accused of attempting to overthrow the government of President Adama Barrow. They have been charged with five counts, including treason, conspiracy to commit treason, and sedition.
The defendants standing trial are; Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (1st accused) Private Officer, Gibril Darboe (2nd accused) Corporal Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused), and Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused), Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) is the Police Officer charged alongside the Soldiers.
The prosecution called eight (8) witnesses in the trial. However, after the prosecution closed its case, 3 out of the 5 accused persons filed a “no case to answer submission.”
The 3 accused persons are; Private Officer, Gibril Darboe (2nd accused) Corporal Ebrima Sannoh (3rd accused), and Corporal Omar Njie (4th accused).
Lance Corporal Sanna Fadera (1st accused), and Fabakary Jawara (5th accused) did not file the “no case to answer submission.”
A ‘no case to answer’ submission is a legal argument that can be raised at the end of the prosecution’s case. If successful, it has the effect of stopping the proceedings before any defence evidence is called.
The lawyers representing these 3 accused persons told the court that the prosecution (the state) failed to produce a prima facie case against their clients.
In delivering his ruling on the “No Case To Answer Submission” Justice Mahoney said the 2nd and 3rd accused persons are already implicated and have a case to answer.
However, Justice Mahoney ruled that the 4th accused person has no case to answer based on the evidence adduced before the court.
Justice Mahoney said the 2nd and 3rd Accused persons, were both mentioned by PW4 and PW7 as attending the meeting in Kafuta where the participants discussed the overthrow of the Government.
“Evidence was given implicating both 2nd and 3rd Accused persons, particularly in connection with their participation in the meeting in Kafuta. There is thus evidence on record implicating them in the offences charged, which is tantamount to a prima facie case,” Justice Mahoney ruled.
Justice Mahoney ruled that the 4th Accused person, was mentioned by PW1 when he was asked by the 1st Accused to see the operational plan from the 4th Accused, although he (PW1) never got to see anything from the 4th Accused.
Justice Mahoney said PW6 also stated in evidence that the 1st Accused’s phone contained a text message sent by Barra Touray to the 1st Accused, which read: “Forget about Njie, Njie is not a soldier.”
Justice Mahoney further ruled that PW6 explained that he discovered during the investigation that the text was in response to Njie the 4th Accused, who gave excuses whenever Karamo Jatta asked to meet him.
“The witness however said the message got deleted during the time it was extracted from the phone. This is the only evidence against the 4th accused apart from his statement after arrest, Exhibit P8, which does not contain anything incriminating with respect to the offences charged.
“Applying the Galbraith test to the evidence against the 4th Accused person, it is evident that the minimal prosecution evidence concerning the 4th Accused, taken at its highest, is such that no reasonable court could properly convict on it, and therefore the case against the 4th Accused should stop at this point. Put another way, there is no prima facie case against the 4 Accused person. The 4th Accused person, Omar Njie is hereby Acquitted and Discharged,” Justice Mahoney ruled.
Justice Mahoney further ruled that the case against the 2nd and 3rd Accused has passed the prima facie test, and that they have a case to answer.
The 1st 2nd 3rd 4th and 5th Accused persons are charged with treason contrary to Section 35 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code that they prepared and/or endeavoured to overthrow the Government of The Gambia by unlawful means.
The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Accused persons are also charged with treason contrary to Section 35 (1) (g) of the Criminal Code that they agreed amongst themselves to overthrow the Government of The Gambia.
The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Accused persons were charged with concealment of treason contrary to Section 36 (a) of the Criminal Code that knowing that the 1st Accused intend to commit treason, they failed to report it to a Minister or a Magistrate or police officer or a member of the Armed Forces.
The 2nd 3rd and 4th Accused persons are also charged with concealment of treason contrary to Section 36 (b) of the Criminal Code that knowing that the 1st Accused intend to commit treason, they did not use other reasonable effort to prevent the commission of the offence.
The 1st Accused person is also charged with mutiny contrary to Section 40 (c) of the Criminal Code that he attempted to incite one Sergeant Karamo Jatta and one Captain Mamat Jobe to commit an act of mutiny.
All the Accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges and the prosecution called eight (8) witnesses who testified in open court.
At the close of the prosecution case, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Accused persons opted to make a no case to answer submission.