By Modou S. Joof
Magistrate Hilary Abekea of the Kanifing Court says he will “advise” himself on a bail request submitted on behalf of a Gambian editor charged with multiple criminal offences, of which, the most serious is sedition.
Alagie Jobe, a deputy editor of the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper made his second appearance before the court on March 19, 2013. This time represented by Counsel Ebrima Jah, who was preoccupied with securing his release from custody.
Segga Gaye, a lawyer for Mr Jobe’s co-accused Mbye Bittaye, an employee of a Lebanese-owned mobile telephony company, Africell, who is charged with “unlawful inquiries relating to possibility of forgery”, also submitted a lengthy bail application.
However, the magistrate pushed the next court session to March 26 in order to “advise” himself on the bail application submitted by the lawyers.
Police prosecutors are of the view that the accused persons are likely to flee the country when granted bail.
Mr Jobe is facing charges of “sedition”, “false publication” and “forgery” over a story about an alleged fugitive soldier who refuses to take orders in execution of some people, which police prosecutors claim to be false.
He is also facing charges of “making documents without authority” and “giving false information to a public officer”.
Both Jobe and his co-accused have denied the charges brought against them by the police.
They were paraded before the lower court without counsels on their first appearance on March 12. The Magistrate ordered for their remand at the country’s maximum security wing, the Mile 2 Central Prison, in the outskirts of the Gambian capital.
Editor Jobe has been in detention at the headquarters of the country’s secret police, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in Banjul, since his arrest on February 7, 2013.
Last Tuesday, local journalists who saw Mr Jobe told Front Page International (FPI) the journalist appeared “very weak” in court.
In a charge sheet, the police accuse Mr Jobe of publishing on a 19th December 2012 edition of the Daily Observer that “Major Lamin Touray is on the run for imminent re-arrest and detention and charged in absentia for breach of office ethics and codes, by refusing to take orders in execution of some people”.
This, they claim, was done “with intent to bring hatred and to excite disaffection against the person of the President and the Government of The Gambia”.