The Gambia: Court Orders Arrest of Three Police Officers
Court Orders Arrest of Three Police Officers
Principle Magistrate Hilary U Abeke of the Brikama Magistrate's Court Thursday ordered the immediate arrest of three police officers who are defendants in a civil case instituted by one Alhagie Bambo Cham.
Principal magistrate Abeke made the order directing the IGP to arrest one M.I Joof of Brusubi Police Station, Lamin Cham of Major Crime Office at the Police Headquarters in Banjul, and one Boto Keita of the same Major Crime Unit in Banjul for disobeying an earlier court order of 30th November, 2011.
The magistrate also ordered that the 2nd defendant in the civil case, Momodou Lamin Jabbi who has been avoiding service of court processes and removed the court order pasted in the said land and remanded the 1st defendant Ebrima Jaiteh for using phone to call Boto Keita and Lamin Cham of major crime office to arrest the plaintiff in the case, immediately he was served with the court order dated 30th November, 2011 at about 6.00pm.
The plaintiff, who was arrested whilst on bed at about 6.30pm, was detained at the Major Crime Office from the 30th November 2011 till the 2nd December, 2011 at about 6.00pm.
The plaintiff, Alhagie Bambo Cham was granted bail by the police in the sum of D1.3million (one million three hundred thousand dalasis) with two Gambian sureties in the like sum.
The plaintiff came to court on the 5th December, 2011 and informed the court on oath that he was arrested upon service to the 1st defendant, Ebrima Jaiteh a court order on 30th November 2011 at the Bakoteh Police Station CID office.
On the 5th December, 2011 when the matter came up for mention, none of the defendants appeared in court despite service of court processes and orders on them respectively, except the 1st defendant who appeared with his legal counsel, A. Sissokho.
The court in its ruling on 5th December, 2011 declared that in the interest of justice the defendants who were not in court and whom proof of service showed that they were duly served ordered that a hearing notice be served on them and the matter was adjourned accordingly to 8th December, 2011.
During yesterday's hearing when the matter came up the court was informed by one Baba Jatta, a cousin and representative of the plaintiff, that upon service of hearing notice on the defendants who were duly served and had refused to come to court, they [defendants] immediately swung into action and arrested the plaintiff again and detained him at the Major Crime Office up to the time of going to the press, thereby preventing him from attending the court.
The court upon the receipt of the information from the plaintiff, through his representative in court disclosed that it viewed the conduct of the affected police officers as unwholesome and 'barbaric'.
The court further disclosed that if anybody is to disobey the court order, it should not be the police. "Are police officers above the law or is there any law preventing the police from appearing in court when they are sued in their personal names when found to be involved in illegal activities?" Magistrate Abeke quarried.
It would be recalled that sometimes in the month of February 2011, the 1st defendant, Ebrima Jaiteh approached the plaintiff, Alhagie Bambo Cham to give him part of his land, which they agreed that he [defendant] would pay the plaintiff D1.2 million.
The 1st defendant promised the plaintiff that he would pay D600,000.00 cash here in The Gambia. Upon the said agreement, the 1st defendant said that he has a strong link at the German Embassy and that he is a friend to the consul.
He promised he was going to work a visa with his German friend for the plaintiff and take him to Germany. He further promised that upon arrival in Germany, he would provide the plaintiff with a job and accommodation.
He told the plaintiff that when that is settled, he would know how much to balance in the remaining D600,000.00. Having agreed on that, an agreement was drafted by the 1st defendant in the presence of two persons -Momodou Sidibeh and Dauda Sanneh who both served as witnesses to the transaction.
Upon the said agreement the 1st defendant made payment in bits which amounted to D400,000.00 which the plaintiff acknowledged. Upon several demands by the plaintiff to the 1st defendant for further payment, the latter then issued a GTBank cheque in the amount of D200,000.00 which the plaintiff presented to the Bank on 4th May, 2011. The cheque was not honoured and was returned.
The plaintiff then informed the 1st defendant that the cheque bounced and the latter promised that he would pay him the money, which he never did. In August 2011, the plaintiff reported the matter to Brusubi Police Station headed by M. I. Joof, the 4th defendant in the case and the 1st defendant Ebrima Jatta was arrested and his statement obtained.
The police advised that the matter be settled out of the police station upon appeals from the 1st defendant and D10,000.00 was paid to the plaintiff to withdraw the case from the police which the plaintiff did.
After the withdrawal of the case, the 1st defendant could not still settle the outstanding balance for the purported transaction. Then, the plaintiff in October 2011 reported the matter to Fraud Squad unit in Banjul.
His statement was obtained and he was promised that action will be taken immediately, which was never done. Whilst waiting for the fraud squad to act, surprising, on the 18th November, 2911, the 5th and 6th defendants, Lamin Cham and Boto Keita respectively, called the plaintiff on telephone and ordered him to report at the Major Crime Unit in Banjul Police Headquarters to answer to a complaint lodged against him by the 1st defendant Ebrima Jaiteh.
Upon the compliance of the plaintiff to the call, he was arrested and detained without bail until the 19th November, 2011. He was told he would be set free if only he agrees to withdraw the case reported by him at the fraud squad concerning the dud cheque issued to him by the 1st defendant and also sign an undertaking before them that he should relinquish the said land to the 1st defendant.
The undertaking was drafted by Boto Keita and Lamin Cham; out of fear and having been in police detention, the plaintiff signed the said paper and he was released on bail on 19th November, 2011.
When the pliantiff was released from the Major Crime Office he returned home, but at about 7.00pm, Boto Keita and Lamin Cham came to his residence with an armed military personnel, corporal Musa Nyukei and another Tijan Darboe, an official of the Physical Planning Office in Brikama.
They went to the said land and were measuring it for the 1st defendant, Ebrima Jaiteh who has already sold the land to the 2nd and 3rd defendants, Momodou Lamin Jabbi and Sanna Fatty, knowing full well that he had not fulfilled his obligation of paying for the land in the sum of D1.2 million.
The plaintiff, Alhagie Bambo Cham being dissatisfied with the entire transaction which he deemed fraudulent and since he has lost hope and protection from the police, decided to go and seek redress in court.
The court upon an exparte motion field by the plaintiff ordered an injunction restraining the IGP from further arrest and detention of the plaintiff in respect of this case and restrained all the defendants from the land.
In breach of the court order, made on the 30th November, 2011 and the hearing order notice of the 5th December 2011 and their non-appearance in court since the commencement of the suit despite service of all processes on them,
the court yesterday, 8th December, 2011, directed the inspector general of Police (IGP) to arrest and detain in prison custody the following police officers: M.I. Joof, the 4th defendant; Lamin Cham, the 5th defendant; and 6th defendant, Boto Keita.
The court warned that failure to produce the above named police officers in court on the 12th December, 2011, the next adjourned date, the court shall view it as a deliberate coverage of the IGP of the involvement of the three men (officers) in illegal activities under the guise of police duty and shall elicit appropriate further orders.
The court also ordered that the 2nd defendant, Momodou Lamin Jabbi who has been avoiding services and had refused to appear in court, went to the locus and removed the said order of court of the 30th November 2011, which was posted at the corners of the land to be arrested and kept in prison custody till the next adjourned date, the 12th December, 2011.
The court ordered that the 1st defendant Ebrima Jaiteh, who upon service on him on the order of court telephoned the 5th and 6th defendants to arrest the plaintiff be remanded in prison custody.
The court further ordered that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) should release with immediate effect the plaintiff Alhagie Bambo Cham from police custody.
The presiding magistrate, Hilary U. Abeke finally ordered that copies of the court order be made available to the following: the secretary general office of the president; the honourable chief justice of The Gambia; the honourable Attorney General and minister of Justice; and, the honourable solicitor general and Legal Secretary.
The matter was adjourned to 12th December, 2011 for the affected officers to answer for contempt of court.
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