Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trader Fatajo Found Guilty

Karamo Sainey Fatajo, a trader at Albert Market in Banjul, yesterday dissolved into tears after he was declared guilty of ‘breaching the peace’ for saying that that the neighbouring Senegal will attack Gambia.
The atmosphere that greeted the conviction of Mr Fatajo was a sorry one. Grief-stricken family members and other sympathysers who hoped relief at the end of the four-month long trial, could not hold-back their tears. 
Later, they helplessly looked-on as their loved one, a family bread-winner was being escorted to remand at Mile 2. He will be held under the custody of the state until today when the sentence will be handed-down.
Mr Fatajo was arrested December 2010 at the Albert market in Banjul when Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay, a fellow trader reported him to the police and other state authorities, including the then Secretary General and Head of Civil Service, Dr Njogu Bah.
He is said to have told fellow traders at the market that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia,’ thereby breached the peace. His alleged comment came in the wake of a recent diplomatic row between Senegal and Gambia over alleged Gambia-bound controversial arms shipment impounded in Nigeria from UN-sanctioned Iran when Gambia branded Senegalese president as enemy.    
Despite denying the charge and allegation of uttering the said words, the presiding magistrate in Banjul claimed that he has enough evidence to convict Mr Fatajo.
Magistrate Taiwo Ade Alagbe agreed with Mr Musa Babanding Ceesay’s tesmony in court that Mr Fatajo did say that ‘Senegal will attack Gambia.’
“I was shocked when the defense said that Mr Fatajo was exercising his right to freedom of expression,” he said, adding that comment could lead to disarray.
According to the magistrate, issues of national topics should not be discussed in public places such as a market.
“Certainly the convict has learned his lesson that he will not discuss sensitive and political matters in public,” said lawyer Mboge, in pleading with the court to exercise mercy on his client.
Mr Fatajo is the bread-winner of his family, who has none but him alone to depend on for their survival, Mboge told the magistrate, whose decision on what penalty Mr Fatajo will face, will be known today.

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