Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Misreading of Culture Leaves Women Suffering in Silence

The misreading of cultural norms and values leaves women suffering in silence from mistreatment by men and even fellow women, said Amie Bojang-Sissoho, programme coordinator of GAMCOTRAP, a women’s rights NGO.  
Mrs Bojang-Sissoho made these remarks recently while addressing over 75 participants in a three-day sensitisation programme on, among others, gender based violence held at Lamin village, Kombo North.
Aside female circumcision, the rights activist said, wife battering, forced and early marriage is also common in The Gambia and is being associated with culture even though it traumatises women, who are accepting it as their fate.  
“Men should not batter their wives because they feel they are men. Any man who thinks that he can do whatever he wants is ignorant. The body of a woman should be respected,” she said.
The rights activist said, women should not be forced into marriage, adding that early marriage is a violation of women’s right.    
“These are dangerous practices that should be avoided inorder for us to shape the future of the girl child,” she said.
Meanwhile, the event which brought together local government authorities, community leaders, women leaders, among others from various villages in Kombo North was organised by GAMCOTRAP.
Jointly funded by Save the Children Sweden and UN Women Trust Fund, the sensitisation is part of the second phase of the project that seeks to accelerate the abandonment of FGM.
GAMCOTRAP is a women’s rights advocacy group that has been fighting, through sensitisation, to eliminate harmful traditional practices, especially FGM, in The Gambia for the past 28 years.

Anti-FGM Crusaders Penetrate Deep into Kombo North

Residents of Kombo North, in the West Coast Region are having their share of the intensifying sensitisation campaign that seeks to eliminate the deep-rooted cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia.
 Although significant gains have been made in the crusade against FGM, the practice is reported to be high at places such as Kombo North.  
After concluding a three-day training last week for 75 participants in Sukuta where women resolved to join the campaign, GAMCOTRAP will today wrap up a similar training workshop at Lamin village, Kombo North.
The event brought together local government authorities, community leaders, women leaders, among others from various villages in Kombo North.
It is part of the second phase of the project that seeks to accelerate the abandonment of the practice. It is jointly funded by Save the Children Sweden and UN Women Trust Fund. 
GAMCOTRAP is a women’s rights advocacy group that has been fighting to eliminate harmful traditional practices in The Gambia for the past 28 years.  
 The director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray in her address lauded the turnout of the participants describing it as a tangible move to the call to the banning of FGM.
She described the previous training in Sukuta village as successful, noting that more women circumcisers have vowed to drop their knives.
“95 percent of women in the country who were by us sensitized have dropped their knives,” she added.
“We are not forcing people to stop it. We are trying to convince them by sensitising them to know that it is a health hazard and it contravenes the rights of the girl child and that of the woman,” she said.
 Fabakary Manneh, Councilor Lamin ward reminded the participants that each of them is representing thousands of women who all cannot be present at the training. 
“You are required to disseminate the information in your communities,” he told the participants. You should be patient during the training as FGM has left many women’s lives miserable.”
  Ebrima Bojang, the Alkalo of Lamin who gave the welcoming remarks said, women should be outspoken and manifest the implications of the practice inorder to protect more lives in their various areas.
He urged the participants to make good use of the training and transmit what they will be taught into their communities.

UN Women Trust Fund Coordinator Meets Gambian Women Activists

The United Nations Women Trust Fund and EVAW Campaign Coordinator told women activists in The Gambia that the possibility of meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 cannot be attained as long as violence and discrimination against women continues.
Marie Pierre Raky Chaupin made this statement during a meeting with women activists at the GAMCOTRAP office in Kanifing on Tuesday.
“The Millennium Development Goals, which advocates for the promotion of gender equality and Empowerment of women; reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health cannot be attained if women are not empowered, ”  she said
Raky, who applauded the efforts of Gambian women activists in advocating for women’s rights said, the UN Women Trust Fund will support in allocating more funds for women’s advancement.
 The UN Women Trust Fund is currently funding GAMCOTRAP’s second phase of the project that is aimed at sensitising the people of Kombo North, in the acceleration of the abandonment of FGM in The Gambia. 
“I am really impressed with the work of  GAMCOTRAP after attending one of the training today, she said.
Raky said, campaigning against FGM is difficult, but once the religious and traditional leaders are informed, it becomes easier for  enactment of laws to follow.
Anta Faal, Regional Program Officer, Save the Children, based in Dakar said, they too lobby funds from governments and NGOs to enable them re-instate other projects.
 Other women leaders including Binta Sidibeh, executive director AGWA, WISDOM, African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies among others outline their mission in the struggle for women’s rights and advancement.

Lt. General Tamba Will Not ‘Die Twice’ But Queries Gambian Judiciary after Sentence

Lt. Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba, former defence chief said, the Gambia’s judiciary needs to be looked into because he doesn’t deserve a sentence for a crime he did not commit.
Tamba’s query came after the Special Criminal Division of the High Court in Banjul found him and Sarjo Fofana, former navy chief guilty on all four counts of treason related charges, eventhough they had denied the charges.
In a suspense-filled climax of a courtroom saga that has obsessed the nation, the eleven month-long trial yesterday ended with a twenty year jail sentence handed down on both men.
Tamba and Fofana were sacked in October 2009 following which they were put under trial for a coup attempt which occurred in 2006.   
The atmosphere which greeted their conviction and sentence was both chaotic and somber.  The former army Lt general was uptight and teary, yet he unsuccessfully managed to calm down a more teary crowed of relatives and sympathisers.      
“I am prepared to die,” the General cried out, attracting the attention of a blend of uniformed and un-uniformed state security personnel who grabbed their former embattled boss with every strength of theirs, put him into the vehicle and whisked him away.
Denied the allegations
Lt Gen. Tamba, who was the deputy chief of defence staff at the time of the 2006 coup, was widely seen as a key figure in the foiling of the attempted coup in 2006 allegedly led by former defence chief, Col Ndure Cham, now in exile.
His lawyer, Sheriff Tambedou said, Tamba was promoted as Chief of Defence Staff and also decorated by the President with MRG because of efforts he did in foiling the 2006 coup attempt.
 “I did everything to foil the 2006 coup,” Tamba himself said, shaking his head after his conviction. “How can I be part of a coup which I foiled.”
And Sarjo Fofana was the chair of the military court - Court martial - which presided over the case  in connection with the coup.

On the trial
Five state witnesses, including two former military men convicted by a military court in connection with the said coup attempt appeared as state witnesses, but refused to testify.
Major Bah, a military officer who had been sentenced to a 25 year jail term after he was found guilty of the said coup attempt - but later freed on a presidential pardon - had also testified as a state witness.
However, the defense counsel of Tamba and Fofana had argued that the state has no evidence against their clients, noting that none of the witnesses linked their clients to the said treason. 
 “The prosecution has proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt and I hereby found the accused person guilty of the charges,” Justice Ikapala, held.
He relied on the testimony of Major Bah and the statement obtained from a treason convict Captain Yaya Darboe by state investigators.
Justice Ikpala agreed on the content of the statement, which he said, states that Tamba and Fofana were involved in the coup attempt.
Lawyers maintained innocence
“Sarjo Fofana did not take any step in the 2006 foiled coup and there is no evidence from the prosecution,” the lawyer for Fofana, Lamin Mboge told court even after the guilty verdict was passed.
He described his client as a finest and a highly responsible gentleman with a wife and children and an extended family who all depend on him.
Lt Gen. Tamba, on the other hand, is a wife to two, a biological father to six and adopted father to fifteen people most of whom are young, according to his lawyer.
He was condemned to death last year alongside seven others, including top security men and business tycoons, also for treason allegations he had denied.
Treason attracts a maximum penalty of death sentence in The Gambia. The presiding judge sentenced Tamba and Fofana as follows: 20 years for conspiracy, 20 years for treason and 10 years for each of the two counts of concealment of treason.
Since the sentences will run concurrently, both men will spend 20 years in jail, unless otherwise.    
However, Tamba is unconvinced that he has done anything wrong and could be heard calling for an overhaul of The Gambia’s justice system, which has come under heavy criticisms over the years.
“Have faith Tamba because one day justice will prevail,” a bloodshot eye old man tried to cheer him up, as if the judge’s decision was unjust.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

State Guard Vehicle Whisks Away Sarjo Fofana’s Son

Sarjo Fofana with Security Officers

A young man reported to be the son of former navy chief, Sarjo Fofana was yesterday whisked away by some security men on board a State Guard vehicle with registration number S76.  
The Daily News could not confirm whether or not he has been released at the time of going to press.
Alongside former defence chief Lt Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba, Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana was yesterday found guilty by The  Gambia’s Special Criminal Court for participating  in 2006 coup attempt  even though  both had denied the allegations.
The young man, whose name The Daily News is yet to confirm was protesting against the 20-year-jail sentence, handed down on his father. 
He was among a teeming mass of family members and sympathisers who were sobbing and wailing at the premises of the High Court in Banjul as soon as sentence was delivered.
The furiously looking son of a former top military man was seen engaging in a push-and- pull with some security officers who blocked his rush towards his father.
“I want to die,” he could be heard yelling in a loud, husky voice, resisting the security officers who trying to get hold of him. “Dad what have you done to deserve this.”
He was later picked in the midst of the gathering at the entrance of the High Court. The said vehicle was seen entering the NIA headquarters in Banjul.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Women Speak Against Female Genital Mutilation

Dr. Isatou Touray

some instruments for FGM
 Women who were not spared by Female Genital Mutilation have raised their voices for an end to the harmful practice, which have affected millions of young girls in their daily lives.
Scores of women who were sensitised FGM and its effect shared their views with Women’s Bantabaa at the Sukuta Health Center, revealing the most shocking times of their lives.
These women have explained that The Gambia Government has to criminalise the practice.
The practice which involves the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia has left many women’s lives miserable.
The most common form of genital mutilation performed in The  Gambia is known as the excision, which includes removal of all, or part of the labia minora, and cutting of the labia majora to create raw surfaces, which are then stitched or held together in order to form a cover over the vagina when  healed.

During this process, a small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual blood to flow. In some less conventional forms, less tissue is removed and a larger opening is left. Other forms, such as clitoridectomy and infibulations are also practiced.
The different practices of FGM, according to Kumba Nyang, a native of Wellingara, are only beliefs that have been attributed to the efforts of the practitioners to minimize the sexual desire of women.
Generally, FGM in The Gambia appears to be linked to traditional beliefs rather than religion.  Kumba told Women’s Bantabaa that the body of a woman should be respected and protected.
 Fatou Cham of Sukuta said the belief that FGM leads to cleanliness and fidelity of the woman are all norms that are not based on facts.
“Why should one reduce the sexual desire of a woman? It is a gift that is given to women by the creator. This is a way to suppress a woman’s sexual desire and make her less promiscuous,” she added.
“For me,” she said, “I have forgiven whoever might have circumcised me, but the wound is not yet healed. It will remain with me forever.”
According to the lady councilor of Banjulinding, Mariama Bah -Saine, in some communities, uncircumcised women are said to be less attractive and less desirable for marriage.
She said social or peer pressure is also cited as a primary reason why some women undergo this practice.
“It is a practice that has made our lives difficult and makes us suffer. How can you mutilate the women’s sexual parts where she gets her pleasure?”
Sealing, she said is the worst. “It is really painful and not easy to forget,” Mariama said.
She added that it is why many women become afraid of their husbands after penetration. She said sealed women are unsealed the day they are taken to their husbands which involves another pain with the use of a cutting material.
“Imagine injuring a fully grown woman in the genital with a knife again. The worst part of it is that after the unsealing, you will be taken to your husband or else it will be tight closed again,” she said.
She said some women who have undergone the practice have indelible scars after they have been cut to allow delivery, adding that the cut can result in tough scar tissue in the genital area.
Ndellah Sanneh also said that female circumcision is not an Islamic obligation. “our Islamic leaders should not mislead us,” she said.
She called on Islamic leaders to consider joining the fight against FGM, suggesting that religious leaders and other organisations in our remote communities should be encouraged to talk loudly about it.
Women’s Bantabaa also had an encounter with a lady who went through this harmful practice at the age of twelve.
 “I was about twelve years when I went through the painful ordeal of female circumcision. It was really painful with several women surrounding me with each holding me tight.
If I sit now, close my eyes and ruminate about the most unforgettable agony of my childhood, it’s just like an electric shock in my body. It goes like that. I would think and think, Oh God!” narrated Mariama Njie, a native of Sanchaba.
According to  Dr.  Isatou Touray, Executive Director GAMCOTRAP, women and girls are currently living with the consequences of FGM which remains one of the main reasons for the high maternal mortality and infant death in many African countries.
The practice, she said, affects the genital and can lead to death, as pain, shock, haemorrhage and damage to the organs surrounding the clitoris and labia can occur.”
She mentioned that urine might be retained and serious infection developed. Chronic urinary tract infections, stones in the bladder and urethra, kidney damage, reproductive tract infections resulting from obstructed menstrual flow, pelvic infections, infertility, excessive scar tissue and many others may also occur.
Isatou Jallow, a native of Sukuta said FGM is the worst violence against women and the worst crime against humanity. She said she has undergone it with many others but pleads parents to respect the rights of the girl child and that of the women.
 “We must save our young girls from this torture, I suffered and I am still suffering. That painful experience still lives with me,” she sobbed.
A young girl who also spoke to Women’s Bantaba said: “For me, it’s really very painful when I get my period. I can’t go to school, I can’t do anything… All girls who have gone through the same practice as me have the same complication,” she said.
She urged the government, NGOs and individuals to take the issue as important as politics, health and other development undertakings.
“Let’s save our young girls from this painful experience,” she added.
Apart from the innumerable health effects, female circumcision can cause chronic pain, excessive bleeding, shock, infection, depression, potentially lethal complications during childbirth and increased susceptibility to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
 Together, we can make a change.

Moses Richard Ordered to Proceed Without Counsel

Moses Richard-Ex High Judge
 Moses Richard was on Monday ordered by Magistrate Taiwo of Banjul Magistrates’ Court to proceed despite the absence of his lawyer.
“Move or foreclose,” the magistrate insisted, rejecting a defense counsel, Sherriff Tambedou’s request for adjournment.
“I can’t give this indulgence. Barrister Richard is a capable lawyer,” magistrate Alagbe said. 
“It will not be a fair trial if I am forced to proceed. I don’t stand as a barrister before you but rather I am accused person,” Richards said.
“Barrister it is enough,” the magistrate noted while calling the witness to enter the box to be cross-examined by the state counsel
Defense counsel Tambedou who was holding brief for Antouman Gaye reminded the magistrate that the accused is a capable lawyer but he is being represented by a lawyer.
“It is not wise for a lawyer to represent himself no matter how competent he or she is,” he added.
Richards, a former High Court Judge, now private lawyer, is facing two criminal charges - giving false information and sedition. 
He is alleged to have lied to the Sheriff of The Gambia that the president of the Republic ordered a stay of execution of a writ of possession in a civil suit; thus gave false information to a public servant and brought contempt into the person of the president of the Republic. 
He denied any wrong doing.
The state counsel did not object to the adjournment and yet Richards was ordered by the magistrate to cross-examine the witness, Pa Ebrima Colley, defense witness no. 2.
Under cross-examination, the witness said he was not happy with the judgement on execution because he was not aware of it.
 “Because you were not happy you decided to secure the service of lawyer, the state counsel inquired.  “The Sheriff told me to secure the services of a lawyer,” the witness replied.
When asked whether his lawyer has filed any application in any of the courts to stop the execution, the witness replied, “all I know is that he did what I told him to do.”
The case resumes 19 May 2011

NDEA Deputy Director Testifies in Karamo’s Drug Case


Current Deputy Director, NDEA

The Deputy Director General of National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA) on Monday testified against ex-deputy director of NDEA, Karamo Bojang accused of stealing illicit drugs.
Karamo Bojang is alleged to have stolen 67 pellets of cocaine recovered from the stomach of a dead Nigerian national, Samuel Okafor at a mortuary in Banjul in 2006 while claiming that the said drugs were destroyed in a destruction exercise.
He denied the allegations.
Kalilu Njie, who appeared as state witness no.2 said the pellets of cocaine were given to the accused who was the keeper of confiscated drugs.
“In 2010 Benedict Jammeh, Director General of NDEA ordered investigation into the case of Samuel Okafor,” he explained in court.
According to Njie, this investigation led to the current accusations leveled against former no.2 at anti narcotics agency, who is undergoing a separate trial at High Court.
“I read a portion where the accused said he saw some pellets of cocaine stained with blood before the destruction in 2006 and 2007,” Njie told the court.
According to him, he wrote a statement reacting to the accused person’s comments, because it was never shown to him.
He added that he joined the service in 1998 and have witnessed many exercise of destruction of drugs.
The witness further told the court that he did not know whether or not the former boss of NDEA, Ebrima Bun Sanneh and Ousman Sanneh, the then Director of Operation were present during the 2006 drug destruction.
“Is it normal for them to be absent,” Tambedou further asked and the witness agreed that it is very normal.
When Tambedou put it to the witness that Bun Sanneh and Ousman Sanneh were both present during the drug destruction exercise in 2006, the witness said it could be.
The witness denied picking up a cocaine during the destruction exercise.
Tambedou also put it to the witness that at one Alieu Jassey was the exhibits keeper of hard drugs.
“You said Mbaye handed the cocaine to the accused. Was it in your presence,” Tambedou asked.
 “No I wasn’t there” said the witness.
The witness also told the court that he did not know who controlled the keys of the save of hard drugs. 
At that juncture, the state announced the closure of its case.
Meanwhile, both parties are expected to file in their written addresses before the next adjournment date.
The case resumes Monday, 30 May 2011.

Efry, Rongo’s Trial Progresses

The criminal trial involving Efry Mbye and Momodou Lamin Jarjue alias Rongo on Monday proceeded at Banjul Magistrates’ Court presided over by Magistrate Ade Taiwo Alagbe.
The duo are facing four counts: false information, making false documents, uttering false documents and prohibition of conduct of breaching the peace.
They are alleged to have written to the Secretary General Office of the President, stating that the alkalo of Banjulinding is disuniting the villagers and grabbing lands. Both pleaded not guilty.
Under cross examination,   the Imam of Banjulinding, Yahya Bah informed the court that the current alkalo of his village had his ‘alkaloship’ terminated from the period 2000 to 2007 and later reinstated. 
Asked if Eric and his council of elders were formed when he was not the alkalo, the witness who had earlier said in his testimony that the Imam is always part of the council of elders replied that he did not know anything about that.
“If you were among the council of elders since 2001 how comes you did not know the council of elders’ defense counsel advanced?”
 “I don’t know,” the witness replied, adding that he was appointed by NDEA officials with directive from president Jammeh.
When asked if he got any document to show that they were directed by the President, the witness told the court that he did not have any. It was one Mr. Barry of the NDEA told him that he was instructed by the President, he said.
Mr. Bah denied telling the investigators that there were many mosques in Banjulinding and as a result it is  causing disarray in the village.
“How comes it is in your witness statement,” E. Jah asked defense counsel for Rongo.
But before the witness could replied, the prosecution objected to the question, stating that the document is not before the court.
The document was later shown to him and he confirmed that it as his statement.
However, the prosecutor again objected to the tendering of the statement.
He said the witness did not know what is in the statement.
The defense, in reacting to the prosecution’s objection said the witness admitted that he is the author of the statement and can clarify issues relating to the document.
 Magistrate Alagbe in his ruling said the prosecution’s objection is misconceived and inapplicable, because the witness said it is his statement.
The document was tendered and marked as defense exhibit.
The case resumes 26 May, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Women Circumcisers to Drop Knives

Dr Isatou Touray, the executive director of GAMCOTRAP has revealed that more women circumcisers will drop their knives this year.
She said, a public declaration of dropping the knife will be held in the rural-Lower River region, to be followed by similar events in various regions in 2012. The dates and venues are not confirmed yet.
GAMCOTRAP, is a women’s rights advocacy group that has been fighting to eliminate harmful traditional practices in Gambia.  
And ‘Dropping the Knife’ represents a landmark event in the fight to eradicate the deep-rooted cultural practice of female genital mutilation in Gambia.
Under the auspices of GAMCOTRAP, the first ever public declaration of dropping the knife was held in 2007 at the Independence Stadium where eighteen women circumcisers publicly vowed to have abandoned female circumcision.
This was followed by a bigger one held in the provincial capital of Upper River Region, Basse, in 2009 where over 60 women circumcisers have also declared to have stopped the practice.
Both moves came after years of intensive training of the women and even men on the effects of the practice.  GAMCOTRAP also provides an alternative source of income by facilitating the creation of small-scale business ventures to those who earn income from the practice. 
Dr Touray, who was speaking to journalists at a similar programme in the Kombo North of West Coast region said, many more women will drop their knives.
Underway at Sukuta Health Center, the training is the second phase of the project that seeks to accelerate the abandonment of the practice and is being jointly funded by Save the Children Sweden and U.N Women Trust Fund.
The three-day exercise kicked off on Saturday, bringing together local government authorities, community leaders, women leaders, among others from various villages in Kombo North.
Dr Touray said, her organisation is now focusing on the Western Coast Region particularly in the Kombo North and the 75 participants will be trained  on among other issues, the dangers of FGM to the health and wellbeing of the society.
She added that a wide range of health and human rights issues such as increased in maternal and reproductive health problems, complications at childbirth and difficulties in menstruation among others will be discussed during the three day period.
 “We are moving on,” she said, disclosing that Lower River Region will be the next region to make public declaration later this year to be followed by the northern part of Central River Region and hopefully the West Coast Region.
Meanwhile, addressing participants earlier was the Deputy Governor of West Coast Region Fatou T. Sanneh. She lauded the efforts GAMCOTRAP in taking the lead in protecting Gambian women as well as girl’s wellbeing.
For Aji Kumba Barry, National Women Councilor, Kombo North  the practice of female genital mutilation is discriminatory in nature. She said, some women who had undergone the practice in their childhood still live with the effects of it.
The Alkalo of Sukuta Village Alhajie Momodou Cham, who gave the welcoming remarks said, the large turnout of the women is significant.
He urged participants to make good use of the training and transmit what they will be taught in their communities.

Promised Demand for GAMCOTRAP Officials’ Acquittal Deferred

Banjul Magistrates’ Court was on Friday scheduled to hear defense counsels’ demand to free the two GAMCOTRAP officials accused of theft, but the trial failed to proceed for reason/s unclear to The Daily News.  
The accused persons and one of the four defense counsels were available in the courtroom, but left before the trial magistrate showed-up in court. 
Dr Isatou Touray, executive director and Amie Bojang Sissoho, programme coordinator of GAMCOTRAP are accused of stealing €30, 000.00 provided to them by YALOCAMBA SOLIDARIDAD, a Spain-based NGO.
Both pleaded innocence.
The trial has been on-going for six months and eight state witnesses have testified against the two prominent women’s rights activists.
However, defense lawyers had earlier promised to urge the court to acquit and discharge them, because in their view, the state has failed to produce substantial evidence to warrant the continuation of the trial nor to link them to the said theft.
It followed the announcement by the prosecuting police officer, Superintendent Sainey Joof that the state is satisfied with evidence against the accused persons.
Dr Touray and assistant were arrested last year and detained at the police station in Banjul until the following day when they appeared at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Their first move to secure bail failed and they were further remanded for several days. They were subsequently granted bail on their second appearance.
The trial is now expected to resume on May 26.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Daily News Reporter Detained While Investigating Killing Involving Anti-Drug Officers

Police in Banjul on Monday briefly detained The Daily News’ judicial correspondent who was investigating the killing of a man allegedly tortured by four officers of National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDEA).
Mr Cherno Alieu Suwareh was allegedly tortured to death by four NDEA officers: Eku Grant, Ebou Lowe, Abdoulie E. Jallow and Matarr Sey Jawo. The four men are being detained.
Mr Baba Sillah was probing into this murder incident when he was arrested and detained for about half an hour on the orders of the station officer at police headquarters in Banjul, who found the journalist taking details of the incident from a diary officer after the police spokesperson declined to comment.
“My notebook was seized and handed over to one female police officer who tore the cover of my book where I wrote the names of the suspected killers,” Mr Sillah said.
Baba said, his notebook was searched through and after no information regarding the NDEA officials was found, he was released.
When contacted, the police spokesperson, Yorro Mballow said he was not aware of Mr Sillah’s arrest and detention.
“Sillah has no one to blame but himself. If he needs any information, he should have contacted me,” the police spokesperson said.
However, Mr Sillah said, it is a practice that journalists obtain details of newsworthy incidents from the police spokesperson and Mballow has been doing it on other cases, but refused to do it this time.

Ex- CDS Tamba & Co. Push Further for Freedom

The treason convicts condemned to death by the High Court in Banjul in October last year are unwavering in their pursuit for freedom.
Former Army defense chief, Lang Tombong Tamba and co. have advanced appeal against their conviction and death sentence to the country’s highest law court, Supreme Court of Gambia as the Appeal Court had on April 14, 2011 rejected their appeal.
The rest of the appellants are: ex-deputy defense chief Omar Bun Mbye, ex-intelligence chief Lamin BO Badjie, ex-deputy police chief Modou Gaye, ex-senior military officer Kawsu Camara alias Bombardier, ex-Gambian diplomat Gibril Ngorr Seck and a business tycoon Abdoulie Joof, alias Lie Joof.
Despite denying allegations of attempting to overthrow Gambian government in 2009, the ex-defense chief and seven others were convicted and sentenced to death.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court which was upheld by the Appeal Court, the defense counsels filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.
“Lang Tombong Tamba, Abdoulie Joof and Kawsu Camara filed their appeal yesterday,” Sheriff Tambedou, a defense counsel told The Daily News on Wednesday.
The rest have filed their appeal last week, lawyer Tambedou said, adding that all the appellants filed separately.
Pap Cheyassin Ousman Secka, also a defense lawyer confirmed the story.

Court Dismisses Call to Reconsider D30m Bail Condition on Pristine

The D30 million bail condition challenged at Special Criminal Division has being struck out after the Director of Special Litigation convinced the presiding judge that the defense did not want to chart a way out.
The defense for Mr Assan Touray, chief technology officer of Pristine Consulting, a private Gambian IT firm was ordered on the previous sitting to file an ‘application notice’, for both parties to argue in court.
When the case resumed on Wednesday, Mary Samba, who was holding brief for Ida Drammeh, the defense lawyer told the court that they did not file the notice.
D. O Kulo had urged the court to dismiss the application for a review of the bail condition. The state counsel’s application was granted and the matter struck-out.
Mr Assan Touray and Mr Abdourahman Touray, the CEO are charged with two counts of economic crimes, one count of conspiracy to defraud the public and one count of theft.
The Touray brothers have allegedly sold and withheld Gambia government’s share of over twenty seven million dalasi when engaged by government to produce biometric national identity cards and other official documents.
Mr Assan Touray has denied the charges, but Mr Abdourahman Touray, was indisposed on Monday. He was declared wanted before the trial.
Justice Awa Bah had earlier granted bail to Mr Assan, but in the sum of ten million dalasi and two Gambian sureties who must each possess a landed property worth ten million dalasi.
Mr Assan was unable to fulfill the bail condition and he is being remanded.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bail Condition on Pristine Official Challenged

 The bail condition imposed on Mr Assan Touray, chief technology officer of Pristine Consulting, a Gambian IT firm by a High Court is being challenged at Special Criminal Division.
Mr Assan Touray and Mr Abdourahman Touray, the CEO are charged on two counts of economic crimes, one count of conspiracy to defraud the public and one count of theft.
Details of the indictment revealed that the two men sold and withheld Gambia government’s share of over twenty seven million dalasi when engaged by government to produce biometric national identity cards and other official documents. 
Mr Assan Touray has denied the charges, but Mr Abdourahman Touray, was indisposed on Monday. He was declared wanted before the trial.
Justice Awa Bah had earlier granted bail to Mr Assan, but in the sum of ten million dalasi and two Gambian sureties who must each possess a landed property worth ten million dalasi.
Mr Assan is unable to fulfill the bail condition and he is being remanded.
Ida Drammeh, lawyer for the accused persons on Monday urged Justice Ikpala of the Special Criminal Division to reconsider the bail condition.
Ikpala however said the application before him is improper. “It should be application of notice and not application of expert,” he said.
The defense counsel however argued that the reason for ‘expert is matter of urgency’ and that her application is proper.
The case resumes May 11.

Ex-Police Chief Denies Befriending a Pub Manager

A former police chief standing trial on multiple criminal charges said, the state witness no. 7 was severely tortured by the National Intelligent Agency to testify against him.
Embattled ex-police chief, Ensa Badjie and Ali Ceesay, a prison officer are accused of robbery, aiding prisoners to escape, abuse of office, drugs and related offences.
Both pleaded not guilty.
Yaya Tony, the manager of the famous City Pub had earlier testified that Ensa Badjie is a friend, who used to visit his pub.
However, Ensa Badjie alleged that the pub manager succumbed to over a one month detention with severe torture at the NIA headquarters.
He said he is not a friend to Mr Tony.
“Why will Tony lie against you,” the director of public prosecution quizzed and Ensa replied: “Because he [Tony] was under duress.”
“Was he tortured in this court,” DPP further asked and Ensa replied: “He was escorted by the officials.” 
On the state witness no.10, Abdoulaye Sowe, Ensa said he had a quarrel with him when he was commanding Kanifing police.
He explained: “I had a quarrel with him when he impregnated one female constable and abandoned the child.”
Soriba Condeh is a convicted robber serving jail sentence at the maximum prison in Banjul. When he appeared as a state witness, he said, he was the robbery gang leader, but Ensa Badjie masterminded their robbery operations.
However, Ensa said, he did not know Soriba Condeh until the day the latter was arrested.
“What is your source of information that Soriba Condeh had disappeared,” DPP asked. Ensa said that is the information he received.
When asked if he had fulfilled his promise when Soriba was captured he said he did not because Landing Bojang, Serrekunda police boss was trying to incriminate him.
Badjie Denied allegations that he gave cannabis and alcohol to Soriba at the office of the drug squad as alleged of him.
He said he only went with Soriba at the office of the Drug enforcement in the presence of Benedict Jammeh, Omar Jibba.
Badjie said Soriba Condeh and wife Fatou Mendy bear hatred against him because, as he said, “I arrested Soriba Condeh when he escaped from prison.”
He said the other murder and robbery convicts have all lied against him in court. “Why would they lie against you,” he was asked.
“Because if they lie against me they will be given presidential pardon and if they tell the truth they will remain in prison,” the former police chief said.
Hearing continues today.