Tuesday, November 2, 2010

IN PETERS TRIAL:ACCUSED CONVICTED FOR ONE YEAR



Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Campaign Manager of the United Democratic Party, Femi Peters has been convicted and sentenced by the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court to a mandatory jail term of one-year, on Thursday 1st April, 2010.

Peters was also ordered by the Court to pay a fine of D10, 000 (over $384) immediately.

Delivering his judgment amidst a crowded Court, Magistrate Kayode Olajubutu said the defence had failed on both Counts (Control of procession and use of loudspeaker), and therefore noted that the accused has been found guilty on both Counts.

Magistrate Kayode then asked Defence Counsel Ousainou Darboe whether he has any thing to say in mitigation on behalf of the convict. However, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe attributed the conviction to that of South Africa’s Apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela. “It was around this season in an unjust society and by application of an unjust law that Nelson Mandela was incarcerated,” Darboe told the Court.

Defence Counsel Darboe stressed that constitutional rights are conferred on people and the abnegation of these rights cannot in anyway be used against an accused person. He added that the Convict ‘has joined the ranks of Kwame Nkrumah who was convicted for a similar offence by an unjust law that the British used to
suppress any opposition’. “Nelson Mandela was sent to jail because he was an opposition leader,” Lawyer Darboe said. He pointed out that this was a case where an opposition member was involved.

“Femi Peters is not on trial, but it is the judiciary of The Gambia that is on trial. This is why the application at the High Court for a stay of proceedings has not been dealt with,” he stressed. He argued that the Court should decide whether this was an occasion in which people were exercising their democratic rights, so
that the Court could not see itself as attempting to stifle the opposition.

He said: “If a Court of the Republic of The Gambia will think colonial and use colonial repression to pass sentence on the accused person, then it will certainly perpetrate a colonial legacy.”

Darboe noted that the case was different from other cases because the convict is not a criminal, citing that the trial was politically motivated. I will leave the Court to decide in the face of the evidence, members of the ruling party were not permitted to hold a rally and whether there will be punishment of persons who have been denied their rights, the defence counsel finally said.

At this point, the presiding Magistrate, Kayode Olajubutu was seen rushing to his chambers for 30 minutes before he returned to the Court Room.

Kayode stated that ‘the law should not be said to be non-existent’, and declared his verdict by sentencing Femi Peters to a Mandatory term of one year and ordered him to pay D10, 000 (ten thousand dalasis) on the spot. VOL:2 ISSN:156

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