Gambia: Fair Trials not Expected for Njogu and Others

Baba JobeIt’s barely three weeks since the Ghanian-born judge, Justice Mabel Agyemang was appointed Chief Justice of the Gambia. Justice Agyemang is the first female Chief Justice of The Gambia. She is praised as a professional, experienced and independent minded judge. Her widely spoken qualities have brought many hopes that she would try to nurture an independent judiciary in the Gambia- free from Jammeh’s interference.

While some will think that this is attainable with Justice Agyemang’s determination, others have expressed concerns that she will follow the foot-steps of her predecessors. They believe that anyone who is willing to work for Jammeh must directly or indirectly succumb to his wishes. For this reason, the newly appointed Chief Justice is expected to follow Jammeh’s way. As expected, Jammeh’s interence with Justice Agyemang’s role began from the day of Eid Al Fitr, when he was addressing the Gambian hypocritical Muslim elders at their traditional Eid meeting.

The traditional Eid meeting between Jammeh and the so-called Muslim elders is an annual event expected to feature Islam in its entity. On the contrary, this is an event that Jammeh takes as opportunity to show people that he is in charge of the Gambia. It’s an event he uses to seek recognition and support. To gain attention, Jammeh always comes out with the unexpected. Last year was his wrong and controversial executions of death row inmates. And this year is his controversial declaration to jail Njogu Bah, the ex-secretary general and head of the civil service and minister of presidential affairs; Lamin Jorbateh, the ex-Attorney general and minister of Justice; and Foday Barry, the ex-director of Intelligence and Investigation of the National Drug Enforcement Agency.

The trio are accused persons who have cases against the state and are currently undergoing trials. For Jammeh to publicly say he will not pardon them or to say he had warned them that he would jail them if they misbehave is a total interference with the cases. And this has add to Jammeh’s unlimited leadership incompetences. How can he interfere with cases which are still before the courts? As a head of state, even if he receives a plea from the disgraceful Muslim elders, he should be prepared enough to tell them he can’t take decisions on cases before the courts. He could only pardon someone if he is convicted. But this is only expected from a politician who knows what he is doing, unlike Yahya Jammeh who does not have regard for the rule of law.

To say that he will jail them has once again reminded us about his stupid and senseless perception, that he owns the Gambia, because he sacrifices his life in a coup d’ etat. He always gets this notion without remembering there is nothing he has ever done alone, but with people. He has been claiming to be the most patriotic while he enjoys his self-centeredness on the nation’s resources. He claims to be developing the Gambia without having the respect to say thank you to the country’s development partners which are building the nation’s infrastructure.

It’s a pity for the Gambia to have such a leader. Jammeh thought he has impressed the so-called Muslim elders, who he thinks are primitives. He has never thought he was been captured on camera that show wider audience his incompetences and foolishness. Jammeh was even boasting to say “I warned Njogu that even your marabous can’t safe you if I am ready for you. I will jail you’’. For Jammeh to tell someone I will jail you only indicates how influential he is to the judiciary. This is a manifestation that if he wants to jail anyone no one can prevent it. This is just shameful and shows how unjust he and his government are.

What was even astonishing is for Jammeh to reveal the long suspected involvement of superstition for his political life. To say Njogu relies on marabous is enough material to prove how much and how far Jammeh believes in idols and superstitions. To mention this on a satellite TV is just shameful and disgusting for a today’s head of state. This shows how uncivilised and backward Yahya Jammeh is. His primitive and orthodox nature makes it difficult for him to see the brighter future of the Gambia and as such would nurture the environment that would prevent regime change and deter democracy, human rights, rule of law and development.

Jammeh said that he has been warning Bah and Jorbateh for several times, but never reveal what they have done. And for me, this has cast doubts in my mind, because many of his close allies had experienced similar relationships with him. There could be a conspiracy between him and them that has probably gone wrong. It’s possible because that is what was alleged to have existed between him and Baba K Jobe and between him and Essa Badjie, the ex-Inspector General of Police. Looking at the facts that these accused persons can’t even enjoy their bails at liberty is enough to tell how scornful Jammeh is towards them. Equally it’s a point to question whether the cases are Jammeh against the accused persons, or the State versus the accused the persons. Probably Jammeh decides to come public to inform how the judiciary is wrongfully dependent on him.

It’s wrong for Jammeh to interfere with the cases of these accused persons. He shouldn’t have any reason to hate them, because they have not done anything worse than him. If it’s corruption, Jammeh is the most corrupt person in the Gambia. He came into power when he could barely afford to buy trousers for himself and now he is among the wealthiest Gambians. Certainly his salary can’t make that money, and if that is the case, where does he get the money then? It’s either by robbing the Gambian tax payers or by dealing with drugs, period!

Jammeh’s latest comment has come once again to remind us whoever he wants to jail no one can stop him. Thus, Njogu Bah and others, like Baba K Jobe, Essa Badjie and many others, their fates are known already. They would never be entitled to fair trials, as long as Jammeh prevails. Spending in legal fees is just futile as even the best solicitor in the world can’t safe them. Jammeh, not the judges has decided that they have to serve prison sentences. And this will be, unless Justice Agyemang chooses not to betray the world.

These pending cases are test cases for Agyemang and are expected to pave the way in which she intends to handle the Gambia Judiciary. That is whether to maintain her professionalism and independence or to betray the wider trust in her and follow Jammeh’s path.






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