A new twist is being introduced into the story of a Nigerian-born former Chief Justice of The Gambia, Justice Joseph Wowo, who allegedly asked for bribe, as his elder brother has declared that the judge is being persecuted in The Gambia on account of his nationality.
News broke out last month that Wowo, serving as the Acting Chief Justice of the Gambia, had been sacked for soliciting a N2.5 million (500,000 Dalasi) bribe from a Gambian-based Dutch businessman in return for a favourable judgment in a land dispute case.
In a press statement made available to journalists in Benin City at the weekend, Mr Godwin Wowo said the entire bribe story was falsehood that was planted on the Youtube by powerful forces in the Gambia who did not want a foreigner to be appointed a Chief Justice of their country.
Giving a background to the travails of his younger brother who was two weeks ago granted bail by a Magistrate’s Court on criminal charges of giving false information to a public officer, Mr. Wowo explained that the former Gambian Chief Justice , who was also a Judge of the country’s Court of Appeal, was invited by Gambia’s ex- Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Lamin Jobarteh, to help in resolving a dispute over a land matter in which he(Justice Wowo as a High Court Judge) had earlier given judgment in favour of a German plaintiff, Bernd George Diedrich against 12 trespassers, including one Andre Sape Van Klaabergen who was the former minister’s client before his appointment as Attorney-General.
He said the meeting which took place at the former Minister’s house was attended by parties to the land suit and their counsel, adding that the ex-Minister had offered to pay D500,000.00 as compensation to the German for his client’s trespass, but the German through his Counsel, Mr. Christopher Mene, had said he would not accept anything less than D1.5million for the portion of land occupied by Klaabergen who was 12th defendant in the suit.
While stating that the bribe allegation against his brother was untrue, Mr. Wowo said the former Chief Justice could not have been asking for bribe at such a meeting in the presence of all the parties, more so in a matter in which judgment had been given.
“There is no doubt that Justice Wowo is innocent. He is a Nigerian being persecuted in The Gambia on account of his nationality. He is being battered and bruised by those who have orchestrated the vicious and wicked falsehood against him”, he said and expressed pain that whereas The Gambia press knew the truth and published Justice Wowo’s innocence, the Nigerian press, without verifying their source, relied on a doctored version of a recorded meeting in the ex-minister’s house to scandalise and tarnish the image of Justice Wowo.
According to Mr. Godwin Wowo, the present charges of giving false information to a public officer brought against his brother were the same charges the trio of former Secretary General in the office of the president, Njogu Bah; ex-Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr, Lamin Jobarteh and Solicitor-General, Pa Henry Jammeh conspired to bring against Justice Wowo in January which were dropped and which forced him to leave The Gambia in February this year.
He explained that following their actions, the three top government officials were dismissed and arraigned to face trial for abuse of their office, while The Gambian president in May this year, invited Justice Wowo to return to The Gambia to resume his office in the Court of Appeal and subsequently appointed him Chief Justice of the Gambia on June 20 this year.
“Within 24 hours of his appointment, The Gambian Bar Association under the presidency of Ms Loubna Farage held an emergency Bar meeting on the 21st day of June, 2013 to map out strategies for his removal. They wanted a Gambian as Chief Justice”, he said, adding that one of the measures was to write President Jammeh not to swear-in Justice Wowo, a letter the president ignored and subsequently swore him in.
Mr. Godwin Wowo, therefore, insisted that “all these bizarre drama being played out in The Gambia right now is all about preventing Wowo from being Chief Justice. He is a victim of xenophobia and Nigeriaphobia. It is obvious that doctoring and falsifying and putting the tape on Youtube was propaganda to destroy his image worldwide”.
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