One L. F. Jadama, an officer of The Gambia Navy, yesterday, 17th November 2015, testified as the second prosecution witness in the criminal trial involving the Inspector General of Police against thirteen accused persons, before acting Magistrate Omar Jabang of the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
The accused persons; namely Omar Jeng, Abdou Jatta, Lamin Marong, Alagie Nying, Yusupha Joof, Ousman Senghore, Modou Saine, Saikou Saine, Badara Senghore, Ebrima Saine, Yaya Jeng, Modou Saine and Momodou Saine, are charged with the offence of unlawful possession of gear and unlicensed fishing contrary to the Fisheries Act.
The prosecution alleged that the accused persons on or about the 12th February 2015 within the Gambian river, were found in possession of unlawful fishing gear and conducting an unlicensed fishing and thereby committed an offence.
Testifying before the said court, the witness identified all the accused persons as captains of various boats and explained that on the day of the incident, he went with mid shipman Suso, A.B Conteh, O.S Jarju and A.B Jabang, on their normal routine patrol of the River Gambia for irregularity at the territorial waters around the dock island of Mandinary, Kembujeh and Kerewan.
He further testified that whilst there, they came across thirteen canoes casting and fishing but when they were asked to produce their licence from the Fisheries department, they were unable to do so. The witness adduced that when they were asked why they were fishing in the marine protected area, they replied that they don’t know that the area was a marine protected area and that no one should cast net in the area.
At that juncture, Jadama explained that marine protected area starts from buoy number five, stretching to Bounabou and to the River Gambia; that the area is for conservative purpose of marine species, and the accused persons were arrested at the marine protected area.
Responding to questions posed to him during cross-examination led by defence lawyer Aji Combeh Gaye- Coker, the witness disclosed that he has been a sailor for thirteen years. “I have a general certificate in GCA1995, did basic and advanced boarding with US Marine International Training Division Team and I completed a H.T.C major in science and English in 2013 at the Gambia College,” he stated.
The witness indicated that the area the accused were caught fishing was declared as marine conservative area by the Fisheries Department under the Fisheries Act and that they work on instructions and directives from their commanders.
Hearing continues on the 30th November, 2015.