By Buba Gagigo
Home Digital FM Radio has denied any wrongdoing in response to a letter from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).
“This is to acknowledge your letter dated 2nd May 2023 regarding the above subject matter. I wish to categorically state that Home Digital FM vehemently denies wrongdoing as alleged in your letter or at all. The allegations contained in your letter state that we broadcast the following statements on 19th November 2022:
-“false money entered the Gambia Central Bank with impunity”
-“poor peoples’ groundnuts were purchased using false money with impunity,” they said.
Home Digital FM invoked the cardinal legal principle of “he who alleges must prove,” shifting the burden of proof to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to support its allegations against the broadcaster.
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“I wish to bring it to your attention that we have a constitutional, statutory and common law right to be heard and to adequately defend ourselves against allegations levelled against us. This is anchored on the principle of natural justice. It is a cardinal principle of the law of evidence that ·he who alleges must prove•. In other words, since PURA Is making a claim that the contents of our broadcast may have contravened section 238 (1) of the Information and Communication Act 2009, the law places both the legal and evidential burden to prove its claims against us.”
The Brikama Based Radio also requested that PURA provide them with all of the information that it relied on in reaching its decision and conclusions.
“In addition, since a serious allegation has been made against us, with the threat of potential action to be taken against us, we are requesting that PURA provides us with all the information it relied on to arrive at its decision and conclusions. Without being availed the full Information and evidence relied upon by PURA, our ability to robustly and adequately defend ourselves will be seriously limited. We are therefore requesting that you provide the following Information that are In the possession and custody of PURA:
“(i) A full audio version of the said programme in which these statements were allegedly made.
(ii) A full transcribed version of the said audio.
(Ill) Any investigations carried out by PURA in relation to this matter and contained in our file in respect to this specific issue.
“(iv) Any report in respect of the allegations in question,” they requested.
Home Digital FM stated that in order to properly defend themselves and to specifically respond to the particular claims, they should be provided with all the material information that informed the basis of PURA’s claims and letter to them.
“PURA is a public institution vested with statutory regulatory power, and the exercise of that very onerous responsibility requires that you must be just and fair in determining any issue before you. This means that when you make an allegation of a breach of the terms and conditions of a licence or contravention of a statute regulating our work, as well as a threat of an action against us, then you should accord us the opportunity to present our case without any obstacles. We therefore expect that you will make full disclosure to enable us to respond to your Allegations,” they continued.
They said Section 29(4) of The Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Act 2001 expressly states that they have a right to be heard and to make a presentation in the defence of their case, and in this instance.
“We believe we can only do so when PURA makes a full and impartial disclosure to us. While we await your response and the documents requested in the preparation of our defence, we wish to state that we take these allegations very seriously, while also re-emphasising that we deny the allegations completely in their entirety,” they concluded.