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Ebrima Dibba Appears In Court On Sedition Charges, Lawyers Call Charge “Incompetent”

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Ebrima Dibba, UDP Executive Member

By Landing Ceesay

 

Mr. Ebrima Dibba, an Executive Member of the main Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), appeared before Principal Magistrate Muhammed Krubally at the Banjul Magistrate’s Court on a sedition charge. His legal team described the charge as “incompetent.”

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) charged Mr. Dibba with Seditious Intention under section 51(1)(a), punishable by section 52(1)(b) & (c) of the Criminal Code Volume One, Laws of The Gambia 2009. The IGP alleged that in May 2024, Dibba recorded and published a WhatsApp audio accusing the President of being “greedy, immature, rude, and foolish,” aiming to incite contempt against the President or the Government.

Lead Lawyer for Dibba, Counsel Borry S. Touray, announced their intention to challenge the charge before a plea was entered. Touray argued that the charge under section 51(1) is merely a definition and not an actual offence, which is outlined in section 52. He requested the court to strike out the charge, as it did not empower the court to impose any criminal sanction.

“We intend to challenge the charge against the accused (Ebrima Dibba). We are challenging the offence in which the accused is charged before he takes his plea. The offence under which the accused (Ebrima Dibba) is charged under section 51 subsection 1 is only a definition of the Section. It is clear from the provision it is only a definition section or provision.

“The actual provision where the offence is created and one can be charged with is Section 52. It is clear here that Section 52 is the correct provision criminalising sedition. So the charge before the court is incompetent and we urged it to be struck out. Because it does not give the power to the court to impose any criminal sanction,” Counsel Touray submitted. 

In response, Commissioner Sanneh, representing the IGP, argued that the charge was proper, referencing both sections 51 and 52 to support their case. He requested the court dismiss Counsel Touray’s application and proceed with Dibba’s plea.

“We refer the court to section 51 which the accused is charged and further refer to section 52 which punishes the same. This is why we charged him (Ebrima Dibba) with section 51 and its punishment section thereto, and we are saying that section 52 sub 1 B and C matches with section 51 sub 1 A. It is our submission that the Counsel’s application be dismissed since misconceived, and we ask the accused to enter his plea,” Commissioner Sanneh submitted. 

In response to the legal argument, Counsel Borry S. Touray contended that Commissioner Sanneh’s assertion—that section 52 is the punitive section while section 51 is the section being charged—is flawed.

Counsel Touray further argued that the charge before the court is “incompetent” and should be dismissed.

Following the submissions from both Ebrima Dibba’s legal team and the representatives of the IGP, Principal Magistrate Krubally announced that the case would be adjourned to Thursday for a ruling.

Bail Application For Ebrima Dibba 

Shortly after Principal Magistrate Krubally informed the court that he will deliver his ruling on Thursday, Counsel Touray applied for bail for Mr. Dibba, noting that he was on police bail, the offence was bailable, and that Mr. Dibba is a family man.

“In the meantime, we inform the court that the accused is on police bail and since the offence is bailable, we apply for court bail since the accused is a family man, married with children. We apply that is placed on his own recognisance. The alleged act is a bailable one,” Counsel Touray submitted. 

Commissioner Sanneh did not oppose, and Principal Magistrate Krubally granted bail of D100,000 Dalasis, requiring a responsible Gambian surety with proper identification and contact information.

“The court is conscious of the fact that the offence with which the accused is charged is a bailable one. The court notes that the prosecution did not object to the grant of bail to the accused. This being the case and since bail is at the discretion of the court to be so exercised judicially and judiciously, I hereby exercise such discretion and admit the accused, herein, Ebrima Dibba bail in the sum of D100, 000 Dalasis. 

“By this admission, 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 and valid address and provide his or valid Original ID Card or passport and swear to affidavit of means, swear therein 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 therein that he or she will forfeit the bail bond to the state in the event fails to appear thereto,” Principal Magistrate Krubally ordered.

Following Principal Magistrate Krubally’s decision on the bail application, Counsel Borry S. Touray submitted a new request, asking the Prosecution to provide the audio recording that Ebrima Dibba allegedly made against the President.

“Your worship, we are requesting for the alleged WhatsApp publication to be made available to the defence, as well as the full-text translation of the audio. I can see that in the particulars of the offence, excerpts have been included. We want the state to make it available to us with the full-text translation,” Counsel Touray told the court. 

In response, Commissioner Sanneh informed the court that they currently do not possess the mentioned audio.

Commissioner Sanneh further explained that the audio was created by the accused, Ebrima Dibba, and suggested that Counsel Touray inquire directly with the accused regarding the audio.

“The said audio that counsel is referring to, is made by the accused person (Ebrima Dibba). Let Counsel request it from his client. As we speak, there is no audio with us, maybe before the next Adjournment we will have it,” Commissioner Sanneh told the court. 

Counsel Borry S. Touray, then stood and told the court that Commissioner Sanneh should not give evidence from the Bar. 

“The learned prosecutor cannot give evidence from the Bar. He cannot say the audio is made the by accused (Ebrima Dibba) without the word allegedly. Even the media cannot say much without the word allegedly much more Commissioner Sanneh,” Counsel Touray submitted. 

Principal Magistrate Krubally subsequently instructed the Prosecution to furnish the defense with all documents slated for reference in the trial. Following this directive, Principal Magistrate Krubally adjourned the case until Thursday to deliberate on the pending application.

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