Saturday, August 24, 2019

Supreme Court Calls on Office of Attorney General to Change Attitude

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By Yankuba Jallow

Justice Yahya of the Supreme Court of the Gambia has called on the office of the Attorney General to change their attitude towards the case involving some lawyers against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Justice Yahya’s said: “Honestly, there has to be a change of attitude at the office of the Attorney General. This matter is of interest to the whole country.”

This statement by Justice Yahya came after the Director of Civil Litigation at the Office of the Attorney General Binga D, told the court that since the onset, he was instructed not to participate in the matter (case).

At the High Court, The Gambia Bar Association had filed a motion challenging the appointments of Justices Edward E Ogar, Mathias O Agboola, Simeon Abi and Martins U. Okoi; judges whom they say are incompetent and whose appointments were not in line with the 1997 Constitution.

This case was instituted by Rachel Y. Mendy (ex-President of the Gambia Bar Association) and other lawyers seeking the high court to grant an order of certiorari and declare that the appointment of the four judges is unconstitutional and null and void. They say the appointment of the four judges was not made in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and therefore the court should apply sections 138, 145 and 229 of the Constitution.

During Friday’s sitting of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Gibriel Samega Janneh, Lawyer Drammeh said the case should not proceed because all the four judges are not in the jurisdiction.

“There is no point proceeding with the matter because the judges are no more within this jurisdiction,” she said, adding that proceeding with the case would amount to an academic matter.

She urged the Supreme Court to strike out the matter or make an order for the High Court to strike out the matter.

“Why don’t you object right from the High Court where you have the main suit?” asked Justice Yahya.

In her reply, Lawyer Drammeh said at the time the matter was ongoing before the High Court, these judges were still in the jurisdiction and they left while the matter was stayed at the High Court and brought to the Supreme Court for interpretation of the Constitution.

In her submission, Lawyer Yassin Sengore for the appellants said the matter before the Supreme Court is not specifically related to the judges, but it is about the interpretation of the Constitution. She added that the matter is about the interpretation of sections 138, 145 and 229 of the Constitution which relates to the composition of the Judicial Service Commission, the powers of the JSC to appoint judges and whether the JSC is mandated to appoint judges on fixed-term contracts.

“The interpretation of these provisions is fundamental in this suit,” she said.

The justices of the Supreme Court adjourned the matter for ruling.

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