By Landing Ceesay
The Principal Magistrate at the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court, Omar Jabang, has issued summonses to both the Director General and Deputy Director General of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG) for their defiance of court orders on two occasions.
Magistrate Jabang issued this order in response to an Ex-parte motion filed by Paulo Djabi’s legal team. The motion requested the court to order the immediate release of Paulo Djabi and his associates, as they had been re-arrested by the DLEAG despite the court previously granting them bail.
On September 13, 2023, Paulo Djabi and others were arraigned before Magistrate Jabang on fifteen counts of possession of prohibited drugs, dealing in prohibited drugs, and conspiracy, all contrary to the Drug Control Act Cap 13:05 Vol. II Revised Laws of The Gambia, 2009, and money laundering, contrary to the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorist Financing Act of the Gambia 2012.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
On September 14, 2023, Magistrate Jabang granted bail to the accused persons after their lawyers filed an application for bail. However, despite the court’s grant of bail, the DLEAG re-arrested and detained the accused persons.
Defense counsel for the accused filed an ex parte motion requesting the court to order the immediate release of the accused from the custody of the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA).
“To summon the Director and Deputy Director of the DLEAG to show cause as to why they and each of them should not be held in contempt of this Honourable Court. To make such further or other orders as the Court deems fit,” the accused persons’ legal team requested.
In response to the Ex-parte motion, Magistrate Jabang confirmed that all the accused individuals had met the conditions for bail and that a Release Order had been issued to the Respondent (DLEAG).
Magistrate Jabang further stated that the Deputy Director of the DLEAG had informed Counsel S. M. Tambadou, one of the lawyers representing the accused, that the accused individuals would not be released.
Magistrate Jabang emphasized the importance of recognizing that The Gambia operates under the rule of law, where the actions and decisions of both individuals and institutions are guided by the principles of justice and legality.
“The Judiciary is the body that is vested with the Judicial power of the Country and in the exercise of that function, the Constitution as per section 120 (3) and (4) makes it independent and enjoins the Government and all its departments and agencies to accord it such assistance in other to protect the independence, dignity, and effectiveness of the Courts.
“Let me point out that the DLEAG is one of those agencies and a crucial stakeholder in the administration of our Criminal Justice System. All cases of DLEAG which the Director General and Deputy Director headed are prosecuted in the Courts. So, if there is any government agency that should help the courts in protecting their effectiveness and dignity so as to ensure their independence, then it is the DLEAG,” Magistrate Jabang said.
Magistrate Jabang stated that it is unfortunate that a crucial stakeholder is defying the court’s orders. The Principal Magistrate added that there should be no conflict among those who work together in the justice system.
“We should stand out in maintaining the sanctity of the criminal justice system in this current dispensation. Anything that has the tendency of tainting our democracy should be avoided. It is based on the foregoing that I order the Director General and Deputy Director General of DLEAG to immediately release the applicants herein, namely, Paulo Djabi, Nadine Pereira, Mamadu Neto Djabi and Secuna Djabi, from their custody.
“Further to the application of Counsel, the Director General and Deputy Director General of DLEAG are to be summoned before this Court on the next adjourned date, being the 21st day of September 2023, to show cause as to why they shall not be held in contempt of Court for violating the Orders of this Court to release the Accused persons on bail after having been granted same, “Magistrate Jabang ordered.
Magistrate Jabang said the Order together with the Motion Ex-parte and a new Release Order would be Served on the Director General and Deputy Director General of DLEAG.