(JollofNews) – A magistrates’ court in the Gambia will Tuesday deliver a landmark ruling in the case of two Muslim elders who are charged with defying the orders of President Yahya Jammeh.
Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, 81, a senior cleric of Darsilami Sangajor, Kombo Kansala District, West Coast Region and his former village head, Buyeh Touray, were arrested and detained incommunicado for many days by security officers after they defied President Yahya Jammeh’s orders to observe the Muslim feast of Eid-ul- Fitr on 28th July 2014.
Prosecutors said the men had ‘conspired to commit misdemeanour and disobedience of lawful order’ when they observed the feast on 29th July 2014 and has asked the Brikama Magistrates’ Court to punish them accordingly.
The men pleaded not guilty to the charges and their lawyers, Antuman Gaye and Lamin Mboye have described their arrest and prosecution by the state as an abuse of power and a waste of public resources.
They argued that Section 25 of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia guarantees the freedom to practice and manifest one’s religion and observance of Eid prayers on a different date is not illegal and has never been illegal under Gambian law.
They further argued that the announcement on state television by the Supreme Islamic Council and president for people to observe Eid on 28th July 2014 was never a law and it would be a great injustice to punish the men for defying the president.
They added that for an order to be deemed lawful in the Gambia and other civilised part of the world, it must to be ratified by the National Assembly, be a written law of the state, and be a statute and regulation or promulgation.
Lawyer Mboye and Gaye further argued that both prosecution witnesses have admitted in court that it is not an offence to observed Eid on a different day in the Gambia and no Gambian have ever been arrested or prosecuted for not observing Eid. They added that prosecution witness including the arresting officer have told the court that there is no compulsion in religion and the observance of Eid is based on the sighting of the moon.
They urged the court to acquit and discharge the men as the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.