By Bruce Asemota

A man accused of raping three underage girls has been denied bail by the High Court yesterday. Alagie Bayo is standing trial on triple counts of rape.

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh, who is presiding over the case said there were three issues to be determined by the court from the arguments by both the State and the applicant’s counsel.
These he said are, one, whether the court has jurisdiction to declare section 99(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code null and void because it violates Section 17(2) of the 1997 Constitution; secondly, whether the offence charged is a bailable offence and thirdly whether the accused is entitled to bail.

In his ruling Justice, Jaiteh disclosed that the applicant invited the court to view section 99 (1) of the CPC claiming that it is discriminatory against people with “other status” inclusive of accused persons facing capital offences punishable with death or life not to be granted bail.

He emphasised that section 99(1) of the CPC is an act of the National Assembly and if in the opinion of Counsel for the applicant that section violates section 17(2) of the Constitution on the grounds that it discriminates against persons who are charged with a capital offence, the Court does not have the power to declare section 99(1) of the CPC null and void.

Justice Jaiteh further explained that the Court is only empowered to interpret and enforce the fundamental rights and freedoms as provided in sections 18 to 33 and section 35(5) of the Constitution. “If counsel for the applicant considers that the National Assembly has acted in excess of the power by enacting a legislation that violates a provision of the Constitution, the question of law shall only be invoked at the Supreme Court of The Gambia who has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with such question of law and not the High Court.”
Justice Jaiteh revealed that the applicant did not place sufficient materials before the court to be considered in granting him bail.
He accordingly refused the application for bail.

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