By Abdoulie John
The former Lawmaker for Banjul Central, Abdoulie Saine, has had his day in court in Banjul. The high-rank member of the former ruling the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party has been charged with inciting violence and seditious intention.
In front of courtroom packed with members of a civil society group fighting for peace to prevail in the country and APRC supporters, Monday’s hearing got off to a tense start for the accused person.
Police prosecutor Mballow stood up and filed an application for the charges to be amended, which was subsequently granted by Presiding Magistrate G.W. Davies.
As Abdoulie Saine failed to turn up with his lawyer, Mballow urged the court to proceed stressing that the defence counsel did not inform the court about his absence.
“The counsel should have communicated through the court clerk to explain his absence. Under these circumstances, we urge the court to proceed as constitutional criminal procedure will be observed,” Mballow pointed out.
Abdoulie Saine’s charges stemmed from his release of an audio tape on WhatsApp, describing Mandinkas, the country’s majority tribe, as “selfish, hypocritical and not-God-fearing.” The polemic audio, widely shared on social media platforms, raised serious concerns about a disturbing trend in New Gambia where proliferation of hate speech on social media, is posing a real threat to the peace and tranquillity of the ‘Smiling Coast of West Africa’. Despite condemning and distancing themselves from Abdoulie Saine, the APRC leadership and supporters stormed the court to support Saine.
Saine maintained his innocence when the charge sheet was read to him.
The prosecution at this juncture file for adjournment because it would not proceed with the case until feedback review was received from the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Magistrate Davies ruled in favour of the prosecution and adjourned the case until September 20th for continuation. The learned Magistrate also ordered Abdoulie Saine, his family and relatives to ‘restrain’ from making remarks that could be prejudicial to the ongoing case.
As tension was going crescendo, paramilitary forces deployed around the court were able to prevent the situation from deteriorating.