The Gambian Bar has raised alarm over plans by the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to use Nigerian judges to force himself to retain power.
Gambian president Yahya Jammeh
According to the Gambian Bar Association, embattled President Yahya Jammeh who lost the Presidential election but refused to accept the result after he made a U-turn on Friday is planning to use judicial officers imported from Nigeria to remain in office.
The Gambian Bar accused Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian national of planning to impose Jammeh on the people as they both have close connection.
“There is a total breakdown of the rule of law and the Chief Justice has been known to carry executive directives in matters of the state interest,” the Gambian Bar said, adding that it wished to bring this issue to the attention of the Nigerian Government.
According to a report by SaharaReporters, the lawyers noted that there has been no Session of the Supreme Court of the Gambia for almost two years, in contravention of the law. It said that the only Judge appointed to sit on the Supreme Court is Chief Justice Fagbenle, and that whenever there is an intention to constitute a Supreme Court, he and the Attorney General would handpick qualified lawyers or judges from commonwealth countries who would visit the Gambia for a two-week duration and are appointed by the President for that purpose to dispose of cases.
“It is clear that Jammeh did not expect to lose the election and did not deem it fit to have a sitting permanent Supreme Court. This has inured to his benefit for the last two years during which several cases have sat unheard by a Supreme Court. Case in point is the appeal by the United Democratic party against the conviction of its party leaders.”
They insisted that Fagbenle is “clearly unfit” for the constitutional role of Chief Justice and will certainly take steps to attempt to extend the illegal regime of Jammeh, the group pointed out that there are also seven judges of the high court, all appointed in 2016, and all handpicked from Nigeria.
They named the judges as Justice Agboola, Justice A.N.C. Ikoro, Justice Uduma, Justice E.E. Ogar, Justice E.O. Dada, Justice Sulaiman, and Justice E.O. Otaba
“These persons have never been judges or sat in a judicial capacity,” the lawyers said. “They were imported and appointed and have demonstrated in several high-profile judgments that they will not take any steps contrary to the will of the President.
“It is, therefore, a vital priority for the Government of Nigeria and all Bar Associations to condemn the actions and capacity of all judges of foreign nationality currently sitting in Gambia and call for their immediate repatriation to prevent them from undermining the will of the Gambian people,” they added.