A legal firework ensued between the TRRC Lead Counsel Essa Faal and one of the TRRC witnesses Lawyer Lamin Mboge, amid Faal’s claims that Mboge’s arrest and detention under Jammeh’s dictatorial rule, wasn’t illegal and cannot be considered as unlawful. Mboge was accused of forging the signature of one of his clients. His client used to sell cattle to the former dictator Yahya Jammeh, but he later had a fallout with Jammeh. He was accused of stealing over one million dalasis belonging to Jammeh, an allegation he denied. The money in question represents some cattle that Mboge’s client was supposed to sell to Jammeh. But his client said he never received any money from Jammeh. Mboge said the money was stolen by Pa Bojang, and Solo Bojang, both former close Jammeh aides.
Mboge’s legal nightmare with the state followed the falsification of his client’s signature by one of his new hires at his law office. One of his workers appended his thumbprint on a court paper that should have featured the signature of Mboge’s client. His client wasn’t educated. He is an illiterate.
Once the alleged forgery was discovered, Mboge was arrested. At this time, his client had a pending criminal case in the courts.
Mboge said he was detained by the trial judge without being avail the right to apply for bail. He had heated argument with Lead Counsel Faal over the issue of his right to bail. He told Faal that his right to bail was violated, but Faal disagrees. Faal argues that magistrates or judges have the legal discretion to grant or deny bail.
His client’s case was handled by a former Cameroonian magistrate. Mboge said the magistrate was on the verge of acquitting his client, but he later got fired. The magistrate was rehired, and he sentenced Mboge’s client to four years in jail. The magistrate later got promoted to a high court judge.
Mboge told the commission that he had suffered multiple assassination attempts during Jammeh’s rule. Loosening his car tires; preplanned traffic accidents orchestrated by Jammeh’s agents were among the assassination plots. He was admitted in hospital in Dakar and Senegal after he suffered a car accident.
Mboge told the Commission that he had been rendered handicap because of those accidents. He had also used his savings to pay for his hospital bills.
Mboge was subsequently jailed. He said the Bar Association under the leadership of Sheriff Tambadou wanted to him disbarred. The former Chief Justice aborted that plot hatched by the Bar.
An angry Mboge, resorted to forming a rival Bar Association, which never well gone down with well with the main Bar Association. Mboge told the Commission that it wasn’t illegal for him to set up a rival Bar.
Mboge’s claim for reparation would be determined by the TRRC. The TRRC would determine whether Mboge is a former Jammeh victim who is qualified to be paid reparations.
Lead Counsel Essa Faal wasn’t buying some of his accident stories. He also said Mboge’s arrest and detention wasn’t illegal.
Below is the TRRC proceedings:
Essa Faal: What we are mandated to determine is the unlawfulness of your detention and the test would require us to examine all the procedural steps. If the police had arrested you and bundled you and taken you straight to mile two without any paper as has happened in many cases, then we say this detention is unlawful. But you are taken before a court and the court sanctioned your detention. Is that not what happened?
Lamin Mboge: That is what happened, but we all know.
Essa Faal: Because that is what happened, that is what the law prescribed. That if you arrest a person, take the person before a judge within 72 hours and then judge will decide whether to release you on recognition or to detain you. And whether the judge was right in the consideration or was wrong does not mean that your detention was unlawful. The mere fact that the judge considered the issue, and arrived at a decision, whether to release you or not, renders it lawful. The judge could have made a mistake in the application of the law, but that is a matter for appeal. On this particular occasion Mr. Mboge, it looks like it was regular.
Lamin Mboge: I beg to disagree with you. I don’t want to argue legally for my arrest and detention, whether it is legal or lawful or unlawful. That is for the commission to decide, not for me.
Essa Faal: The commission would make its finding on these things and I don’t know what that finding would be, but in the events that they made a finding with which you are not happy, you could utilize the provisions of the rules of procedure to deal with that issue.
Lamin Mboge: What happens next will indicate to you, that it was just a kangaroo court. Why? Because if you are detained on Friday, on Monday, you are supposed to appear in court, and before you appear in court, you are already granted bail. Is that a court? Is that how the court works? As a lawyer, we all know that before you are tried, you have stand before the court.
Essa Faal: But even if you invoke that decision, what you are invoking is the release and the detention.
Lamin Mboge: Even the detention is wrongful as far I am concerned.
Essa Faal: Your difficulty Mr. Mboge is to pinpoint a legal reason which would be the ground to base a finding that the detention was unlawful.
Lamin Mboge: What I am saying before this honorable commission is that my; not only the detention, even the arrest, the detention, the prosecution, it is all politically orchestrated.
Essa Faal: And that may very well be true.
Lamin Mboge: That is what I am saying.
Essa Faal: But the fact that it may have been politically motivated, does not mean that the process was unlawful. You agree with that?
Lamin Mboge: I don’t agree because you can use the due process of the law to abuse the same process. That has been the order of the day. The law is being used to abuse people’s rights and that is what happened.
Essa Faal: What I can agree with, in your case, is the Executive had a beef with you, and you gave the Executive an opportunity to deal with you and they use the law to deal with you, to produce a consequence that you did not wish for yourself, but that does not mean that the process was unlawful.
Lamin Mboge: Well, I will not agree with that because.
Essa Faal: Let me ask you this question, Mr. Mboge, if you had killed somebody, God forbid, I think we said that in unison. Okay let me use another example, Okay, if you had hit somebody.
Lamin Mboge: You reverse it. If you had hit somebody. Yes, example of yourself.
Essa Faal: Yes, If I have hit somebody, and it is understood that this is a crime.
Lamin Mboge: Like an accident.
Essa Faal: No, if I deliberately do it, is a crime. Correct?
Lamin Mboge: Yes, that is right.
Essa Faal: Would I be entitles to arrest?
Lamin Mboge: Sure, certainly.
Essa Faal: Would I be entitles to detention pending trial?
Lamin Mboge: Yes, that is a right on the prosecution, they have a right to 72 hours detention.
Essa Faal: But even after the 72 hours, would it be procedurally correct to bring me, before a magistrate or a judge, and have me detained?
Lamin Mboge: No, you can be brought before a court of law, but you cannot be detained?
Essa Faal: Is that the law that is practiced in this country?
Lamin Mboge: You see, we are dealing with a situation that we are all aware.
Essa Faal: I am not talking about the situation; I am talking about the application of the law for straightforward facts. Does a judge or magistrate have the power to detain me in the circumstances described?
Lamin Mboge: If it is a misdemeanor and it is a bailable offense, you are entitle to bail.
Essa Faal: Being entitle to bail, does not mean I will necessarily and must get bail. Your answer? It means, I may, or may not get bail. Correct?
Lamin Mboge: It depends on the facts.
Essa Faal: You want few minutes Mr. Mboge?
Lamin Mboge: Yes, to comfort myself.