Circus at the Gambia Judiciary, as Justice Secretary Reinstated

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Justice Fagbenle the new "Acting Chief Justice"
Justice Fagbenle the new “Acting Chief Justice”
Justice Mama Sighateh taking ought in August 2013
Justice Mama Sighateh taking ought in August 2013

According to reports reaching Kibaaro News, the dismissal of Justice Secretary of State, Justice Mama Fatima Singhateh has been rescinded by President Yahya Jammeh. It is not clear what had transpired but our sources have confirmed that the Justice Secretary has been reinstated.

Meanwhile, it has further been confirmed to Kibaaro News that Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle has been appointed as the new “Acting Chief Justice” of the country, replacing the former Ghanaian born Chief Justice, Justice Mabel Yamoa Agyemang.

In another development, Kibaaro News has learnt that Justice Emmanuel Nkea the presiding Judge of the Special Criminal Court at Banjul had tendered his resignation to the new Acting Chief Justice, Justice Fagbenle.

Justice Fagbenle, until recently has been a senior Judge of the Gambia Court of Appeal. He is notoriously remembered for his harsh sentences handed to the 9 Gambia Press Union (GPU) members in August 2009. The GPU members were: Mr Ebrima Sawaneh, Mr Pap Saine, Mrs Sarata Jabbi-Dibba, Mr Pa Modou Faal, Mr Sam Sarr and Mr Bai Emil Touray, who were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and a fine of 250,000.00 Dalasis.

He recently presided over the appeals of former Army Commander in Chief Gen. Lang Tombong Tamba and former Navy Commander Admiral Sarjo Fofana against the death sentences handed to them by Justice J E Ikpala of the High Court in May 2011. However, their appeals were dismissed by Justice Fagbenle together with Justice E F M’bai and Justice E Nkea.

Justice Fagbenle also presided over the Court Martial of the 2006 alleged coupists assisted by Justice Agim, where they handed life imprisonment to Captains: Wassa Camara,provo martial at the military police, Yahya Darboe ,2nd in Command 2 Infantry Battalion of the Gambia Armed Forces, 2nd Lt. Pharing Sanyang, Guards Battalion, and Bunja Darboe, former army PRO; whilst Cpt. Pierre Mendy, Lt. AbdouKarim Jah, Lt. Momodou Alieu Bah were sentenced to 25 years in jail; Lance Corporal Samba Bah and Private Alhaji Nying were each sentenced to 10-years.

It was also Justice Fagbenle, who prosecuted Admiral Sarjo Fofana for his part in the 2006 alleged aborted coup, before he was elevated by President Jammeh to the Court of Appeal in time to deal with any possible appeals of the 2006 coupists. It could not therefore be a welcoming news to many Gambians, whose love ones were sent to Mile 2 Central Prison by Justice Fagbenle, to learn of his new elevation to the head of the country’s Judiciary.

In another development, Kibaaro News has been reliably informed that Justice Nkea, the current presiding Judge at the Special Criminal Court has tendered his resignation. It is speculated that his move may have been orchestrated  by the appointment of Justice Fagbenle, as the ‘Acting Chief Justice’ of the country. Justice Nkea is a Cameronean national whilst Justice Fagbenle is a Nigerian national. The two are said to be strange bedfellows.

In appointing Justice Fagbenle as new Chief Justice, it seems President Jammeh has now got the ideal man to do his dirty deals against his former Justice Secretary, Lamin Jobarteh, former Secretary General and Secretary of State for Presidential Affairs,  Njogu Bah, former Solicitor General Pa Harry Jammeh and co. For Justice Fagbenle has no history of leniency for Gambians.