The Justice system in the Gambia is at a pathetic state where it seems the dictatorial tendency of President Jammeh have spilled over the Judiciary that Justices throw away  their towels and wear their wigs to serve at Jammeh’s pleasure. Certainly shameful and uncalled for in this era of separation of powers.

The mere fact that Magistrates are running away from trying Fatou Jaw Manneh clearly shows how scared they are to preside over a case that they believe do not have any merits to be tried in the Gambia. In essence they are scared of the consequences that would be meted on them when she is set free. It was first Magistrate Buba Jawo in Kanifing who overruled Defense council and said his court have jurisdiction over the case; then followed weeks of testimony and cross examinations of liars who claimed the statements offended them. They are liars because there was no outcry and those witnesses were never quoted anywhere on the matter until later in the trial. When Magistrate Jawo realized the witnesses were lying and the NIA officer was a nonentity who is a semi literate as to be able to read, understand and analyze the “flaming pen” remarks of a venerable intellectual like Fatou Jaw Manneh, he threw the towel and cooked up a story that the matter belongs to the Banjul Magistrates Court because the NIA was in Banjul.

After another delayance, magistrate Mboto, the new Magistrate threw away the towel and first called in sick. On the adjourned date, he declared lack of Jurisdiction and send the case to Brikama because she was arrested at the Yundum Airport which is in the Western Region. Now we await Brikama and I predict Fafa E Mbai.

Incidentally, it is in Brikama where Magistrate Assan Martin was recently fired for granting bail to UDP’s Lamin R Darboe and Co of Pirang on a flimsy charge. This was the latest among a series of hiring and firings of Justice Department officials in the Gambia. From Hawa Seesay Sabally to Borry Touray to Fatou Bon Bensouda and a host of others; Jammeh’s “electronic broom” continues to sweep the carpet. However such people are all progressive. Barrister sabally and Touray are high profile defense and Human rights lawyers in the Gambia today, whilst Fatou Bon Bensouda as Chief Prosecutor in The Hague is to prosecute Charles Taylor and hopefully would prosecute Jammeh in The Hague. The above mentioned scenarios are highlighted to let Justices in the Gambia know the opportunities ahead of them after Jammeh, and tamper justice without fear or favor and resist any Government interference in the judicial system.

In Federalist no.78, American Patriot, Alexander Hamilton declared the Judiciary as the “least dangerous branch” when the people of New York were skeptical to ratify the constitution. Then the Judiciary became so weak that Chief Justice John Jay has to resign from his position to take over the Governorship of New York .However, in his historic 1803 decision, Marbury vs. Madison, Chief Justice Marshal struck down “the writ of Mandamus” and denied Marbury his commission as a Justice of peace in the District of Columbia .This set the pace for Judicial review and helped to affirm the strong role of the Judiciary in the political development of any nation. The Judiciary acts as a check to the unflinching power of the executive.Today, the power and integrity of the American Judiciary owes to this great decision.

The Gambian Judiciary should also set the pace for posterity to benefit.Recently, when Gen.Mesharaff of Pakistan fired the Chief Justice, the lawyers revolted, the people followed and he is back in place. It is not conceived by a United States President to fire a Justice at will because such can’t stand as the removal process is clearly spelt out which most be followed.Recently, we witnessed a High court order for the “mandamus” of Kanyiba Kanyi and ‘Rambo” jatta.The Government refused to comply; a recent order acquitting and discharging MP Demba Dem from the March 2006 Coup also fell on deaf years. What the hell do this damn fool of a President mean?

In conclusion, I wish to encourage the judicial system of the Gambia to disassociate themselves from Jammeh and free Fatou Jaw Manneh.She has no case to answer. She wrote her opinion and is entitled to it. No one else could claim offense from it as it is directed to President Jammeh, who is a public servant and accountable to the people. Indeed the article was written in the United States where President Bush is harshly criticized without any aggrandizement. Such is what is called Democracy. Free Fatou Jaw Manneh and let her go back to the United States and complete her Masters degree so that she can return home and better serve her country than a semi literate President. The magistrates should realize that this case is closely watched by the world, and any negative reaction from Jammeh would be stiffly contested. Go ahead Fafa Mbai and set Fatou Free. The world is watching and remember Justice Delayed is Justice denied.

Posted on Sunday, August 12, 2007 (Archive on Tuesday, August 28, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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