The police in Banjul have failed to convince a Magistrate Court in Brikama, 39 kilometers south-east of the capital, that Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a Youth Secretary General of the opposition United Democratic Party, has given false information to a public servant.
Mr Sandeng was acquitted and discharged on Monday March 17 by Principal Magistrate Dayoh Small on grounds that the prosecution did not establish the facts on the alleged false information charge.
Sandeng has earlier denied the charge which stem from an application for a permit he made to the police to hold a youth get-together at Tanji village in November 30, 2013. Sandeng and several other youth leaders of the UDP were arrested and detained with regards to that meeting.
His attorney, Ousainou Darboe was able to convince the court that his client is innocent when he filed a no case to answer argument on March 12.
The prosecution had said its trial is based on the contents of the permit that was meant for a social gathering and musical entertainment.
But the defence had argued that the details of the alleged offence stated that the accused wrote an application for a permit to stage a political gathering. “An application is a request for something which can be refused or granted.”
“In order to determine the case of false information, you will consider two rules: the information given must be given to a public officer or the information given is false,” Magistrate Dayoh began his ruling.
He said it is not disputed by the prosecution that the permit was written but was for a social gathering and musical entertainment and was misused for a political rally – which the prosecution said was false information because it was given to a public officer.
The third and fourth prosecution witnesses did not give any evidence because they were not in Tanji and one of them indicated that he was not aware of the meeting, he said. The first prosecution witness said he approved the permit for a social gathering, but he did not visit the place to find out whether the permit he had given was used for the purpose or not and did not send any other person to find out as well.
No evidence to ensure conviction
Dayoh added that the second prosecution witness, the custodian of the centre, said there was no meeting, and that he himself asked Ousainou Darboe (UDP leader) whether he was there for a meeting or not and he (Darboe) replied that he was not there for a meeting.
“The prosecution did not produce any direct evidence in court that will ensure conviction or that will take the matter into substantial evidence to determine whether the accused should enter into defence,” he ruled.
He added: “The prosecution did not lead good grounds in the case because the accused had merely applied for a permit and that is not false information.
“The prosecution did not establish the facts on alleged false information charge, and I therefore acquit and discharge the accused person.”