By Landing Ceesay
Paulo Djabi, Nandine Pereira, Mamadu Djabi, and Secuna Jabi were taken into custody by the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) following their release on bail by Magistrate Omar Jabang of the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.
On September 13, 2023, Paulo Djabi and three co-defendants were brought before Principal Magistrate Jabang on fifteen counts of charges related to prohibited drug possession, drug dealing, and conspiracy, as outlined in the Drug Control Act Cap 13:05 Vol. II Revised Laws of The Gambia, 2009. Additionally, they faced charges of money laundering under the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorist Financing Act of the Gambia, 2012.
Upon pleading not guilty, the prosecution, led by Commissioner A. Ceesay, requested the case’s transfer to the High Court, asserting that money laundering cases fall under its jurisdiction. Commissioner Ceesay also requested the detention of the accused pending the investigation’s outcome.
However, Principal Magistrate Jabang denied the application and granted bail to the accused individuals on September 14, 2023, as they met the bail conditions.
Despite complying with the bail requirements, Kerr Fatou has received credible information confirming the re-arrest of the accused persons, which was corroborated by one of their legal representatives, Lamin S. Camara.
Counsel LS Camara informed Kerr Fatou that the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) had disregarded a court directive and re-apprehended his clients.
Counsel Camara emphasized that this marked the second instance in which the DLEAG had flouted court orders by detaining his clients.
He further noted that the Bundung Magistrates’ Court had granted bail to his clients on September 11, 2023, only for the DLEAG to disregard the court’s decision.
Counsel Camara also pointed out that on September 14, 2023, the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court had similarly granted bail to his clients, but the DLEAG had persisted in pursuing them against the court’s ruling.
“They defied the court orders, they absolutely defied the court orders. There is nothing we could have done,” Counsel Camara told the court.
Counsel Camara emphasized that Magistrate Jabang explicitly asserted his jurisdiction to preside over the case and to authorize bail for the accused individuals.
Following Magistrate Jabang’s directive to grant bail to the accused, Counsel Camara recounted that one of the accompanying officers, a senior official from the DLEAG, communicated that his clients were required at their office to retrieve their belongings.
Counsel Camara conveyed his willingness to personally transport them to the DLEAG office to facilitate the retrieval of their belongings.
“Then my senior (Counsel Sheriff Tambedou) and we waited there for more than two and a half hours, and they were going back and forth, coming out trying to find spelling mistakes here and there. They were just trying to find fault so that they would not comply with the bail order, the court order that was given by the magistrate. This is the second order that has been given for them to be released on bail. In the end, they (DLEAG) did not tell me anything, they told my senior counsel (Counsel Sheriff Tambedou) that they were not going to release them.
“We left, and my senior left, and then the accused also left because they are on bail. So later, the police were pursuing them, and they surrendered because they were looking for them all over the place. There was no point in hiding because they (the accused persons) could not remain in hiding forever. This is the second time they have refused to comply with the court order. This is the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG),” Counsel Camara told Kerr Fatou.
Magistrate Jabang ruled on Thursday that the 1st and 2nd accused persons may be granted bail either by posting a bond of one million dalasis (D1,000,000) each or by securing four Gambian sureties who can vouch for the same amount. Meanwhile, the 3rd and 4th accused can obtain bail by either depositing D300,000 each or securing two Gambian sureties each to guarantee the same amount.