The lead lawyer of the Caliph General of Dasilameh Sanghajor Caliphate wanted his clients’ case referred to the Supreme Court. Lawyer Antouman Gaye’s application came after the first prosecution gave evidence in the trial of Sheikh Sheriff Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray on August 18.
Lawyer Gaye, who led a team of lawyers, made the application after the prosecution made amendment to the charge sheet. Chief Inspector Touray wanted to replace misdemeanor charge with conspiracy to commit felony, which was granted by the court, for there was no objection from the defense. The case is before Principal Magistrate Sirending Sanneh in Brikama.
The first prosecution witness gave evidence in the trial. Momodou Lamin Jarju, Chief of Foni Kansala district, acknowledged receiving information from the Governor’s office that there should be no Eid prayers on Tuesday, July 27th, 2014 for those who failed to pray on Monday 28.
“This was in the night and I went to Bwiam radio to disseminate the same information. In that very night I assigned Seedy Gibba, my Badge Messenger from Jiramba village to go to Darsilameh to inform them that I have received information from the Governor that there should be no prayer on Tuesday. When he came, he told me that he went to Darsilameh and has informed the Alkalo and other people whose names he said he doesn’t know,” Chief Jarju said.
He said he had sent his messenger back to Dasilameh and told that the presidential edit affected both Kombo and Foni. Jarju said his messenger later reported back to him that Dasilameh people deified the order. It was then the chief reported the information to Governor Sifai Hydara.
Under cross examination by defense counsel, the witness said he knew a number of religious groups in the Gambia instead of sects. Chief Jarju quickly told Lawyer Lamin Mboge that people accord a lot of respect to the Sheriffs.
Asked whether he knew about Ahmadiyaa, Tijaniyaa or Qadriyaa, the witness said yes. He however would not acknowledge knowing about the presence of Sunni sects otherwise called ‘Masha Allah’ in the Gambia. “I used to hear about them,” was his reply.
The witness agreed that all these sects believe and worship one God and that they recognised Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Messenger of God. He would not also deny that various sects of Muslims practised the same religion in different ways.
Also cross-examining Chief Jarju was Lawyer Gaye. Chief Jarju said he was born in 1941 and that he had been on the throne for nine years.
He agreed that people in the Gambia fast and pray on different days since he was young. Jarju said he did not know about others but he started fasting on Sunday during the last Ramadan. He also denied knowledge of some people in his own district who started fasting on Monday.
Lawyer Gaye at this point file a fresh application on the case. His application was prompted by the accused persons’ not guilty plea and also the evidence adduced by the first prosecution witness. “Firstly, I apply to this honourable court to stay off the proceeding of this case,” Gaye told the crowded court. “Secondly, to refer the matter to the Supreme Court of the Gambia for that court’s interpretation and determination of the following questions under the constitution of the Gambia, 1997.”
“Whether or not by the laws which are within the contemplation of the Constitution of the Gambia 1997, the offence charged on count two, not withstanding its incompetence and duplicity of the charge, is inconsistent with and contrary to Section 25(1c) of the Constitution of the Gambia and therefore null and void and of no effect,” he submitted.
Gaye said if the answer to question one is yes, another question becomes whether the count can be maintained against his clients. Lawyer Gaye relied on Section 127 of the Constitution, arguing the case should be brought before the Supreme Court for interpretation.
But Chief Inspector Lamin Touray countered arguing that the lower court has the jurisdiction to hear such cases.
Magistrate Bojang adjourned the case to September 1st for ruling.