By Rohey Jadama
The Chief Justice of the Gambia Hassan B. Jallow has urged members of the Bar to come forward to be judges in order to strengthen the capacity of the bench.
He said, “Capacity continues to be a challenge despite the numbers that have been sworn in. The most serious challenge continues to be in the high court where we are very much below capacity and I do hope and look forward to more members of the bar coming forward to take up places as judges of the high court.”
The Chief Justice made those remarks while introducing four justices of the Supreme Court and two justices of the court of appeal who were sworn in by the President of the Republic of the Gambia Adama Barrow earlier yesterday morning.
The Justices of the supreme court namely Nicholas Colin Browne-Marke from Sierra Leone and currently serving as the deputy chief justice of Sierra Leone. Cherno Sulayman Jallow, Mary Mamyassin Sey, the first Gambian High court judge and the first female to have served in the high court. Abubacarr Datti Yahaya, a Nigerian and former president of the Gambia Court of Appeal. Omar M.M Njie, a former vice president of the Gambia Bar Association and justice of the court of appeal and Nacessay Sallah Wadda former Director of Public Prosecutions, former High court judge and court of appeal respectively.
He welcomed all the justices of the superior courts and wished them a successful career. According to the Chief Justice, all of these justices have had a distinguished legal career both in the Gambia and abroad.
This, according to the Chief Justice, will bring a much added value to their work within the legal system in the Gambia.
“Capacity continues to be a challenge despite the numbers that have been sworn in. The most serious challenge continues to be in the high court where we are very much below capacity and I do hope and look forward to more members of the bar coming forward to take up places as judges of the high court.”, he said.
The Chief Justice said the Supreme Court had resumed work yesterday afternoon. He urged the Bar especially the veterans to seriously consider coming forward and join the bench.
For his part, Mr. Cherno Marena, the Solicitor General, deputizing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the appointment of the chief Justice of the Gambia is a new dawn for the respect for the rule of law, a new dawn for the independence of the judiciary and that has been reaffirmed today with the appointment of erudite and distinguished justices.
“This is a future that is anchored on the rule of law, good governance and the future that is anchored on the independence of the judiciary and I believe that we are on the right track to have set the future that will be of benefit to the Gambians in general and the legal fraternity”, said the Solicitor General.
He said the success of any legal system depends on the investment that is put into the legal system. He said the bedrock of any legal system is the human capacity, the human resources of the system and that the Ministry of Justice is very much committed to investing in this capacity.
“We pledge our allegiance and our firm adherence to the rule of law and for that reason we will make sure that all the resources that are necessary to attract the very finest brains in our country will come on board in order for us to be able to have a judiciary that we are all proud of. The Attorney General has pledged his personal support to this and his team behind him is also committed to this effort, the necessary incentives and the facilities that are necessary for the effective functioning of the judicial officers would certainly be ensured so that we would be able to have the people that we need for the advancement of our judiciary”, he said.
Ms. Yassin Seneghore, delivering a statement on behalf of the President of the Gambia Bar Association, said the judiciary is at the centre of governance in the country and that they have heard the cry of the people for justice, which according to her is a clarion call, which both the bench and the bar must respond to positively, honestly and with commitment.
“Over the years since independence the Gambian judiciary has enjoyed the services of outstanding and distinguished non Gambians and Gambians. Your lordships Chief justice and Abubacarr Datti Yahaya and your ladyship Mary Mamyassin Sey have been such judges. ”, she remarked.
She said the judiciary of the Gambia can now look forward to the future with great hope. On behalf of the Gambia Bar Association, she congratulated the new superior court judges for accepting the mantle of honor. She said as officers of the court they will endeavour to support them to facilitate their work.
Justice Mary Mamyassin Sey said what they are looking for is fraternity and full cooperation from the bar. She said it is not an independent task because the two go together.
She said they look forward to good precise briefs not briefs that are written for the sake of being written.
“We are talking about briefs that will be logical that would address the issue. Some lawyers have this practice of just saying I have submitted my brief but that is not the point. You could write twenty pages submissions but only one page matters. We would rather look at concise briefs that deal with the point and that helps the bench if not we will be rambling all over a hundred page judgment which doesn’t make sense. We would rather have judgment that is logical and address the issue because when we finish writing judgments and we have not addressed the issue then it is injustice; because we are here to make sure we deliver justice to the best of our abilities without fear or favor, affection or ill will; we are here to do what is right. I know most of the members of the Bar but, when it comes to delivery of justice I don’t know anybody, I know what is on paper and that is what we are going to deliver”, she said.
Other Speakers included Justices Nicholas Colin Browne-Marke, Cherno Sulayman Jallow, Abubaccar Datti Yahaya, Omar M.M Njie and Naceesay Sallah Wadda, each pledging to deliver justice in accordance with the law.