Minister of Justice, Lamin Babadinding Jobarteh, has told The Point that
records will show how much the officials of the Special Prosecutions Unit and
the judge of the Special Criminal Court received as bonuses for their services
to the Gambian judiciary.
According to reports reaching this paper, each of the prosecutors was receiving $3,000 monthly bonuses, while the judges were each paid $8,000 as part of the terms of their services.
However, the former judge of that court, Emmanuel Nkea, denied receiving $8,000, when contacted to shed light on the matter recently.
When the Special Criminal Court was established in The Gambia, Jammeh tasked the then Director of Public Prosecution, Emmanuel Fangbele, and the then Solicitor General, Pa Harry Jammeh, to scout for special prosecutors and judges to serve as officials of this special court.
Bonuses were paid to them directly from former President Jammeh for their services in allegedly trying and convicting his perceived opponents. At the peak of the multitude of the suspects brought before the special criminal court was the trial and conviction of high-profile government officials, civil society leaders and activists, opposition politicians and sometimes, remanding of journalists.
“There were frequent and numerous politically-motivated arrests and it’s highly possible that a person is arrested on purely political grounds, but brought to court on a completely unrelated reason. The search for an offence came after the arrest,” the ex-judge said.
Ex Minister of Justice Lamin Jobarteh and Pa Harry Jammeh were both charged in 2013, for alleged conspiring “to defeat justice” when they jointly forced Joseph Wowo, the then acting Chief Justice of The Gambia, to leave the country in a move to drop or suppress criminal charges pressed against Mrs. Amie Bensouda and other judiciary members of staff.
For the first time in the history of Gambian judiciary, prosecutors were pressing up to 35 count charges against some of those suspected as supposed “enemies of Jammeh”, some of whom were either one time allies of Jammeh or perceived opponents. They mostly plead innocent of these charges.
“It is true that in my capacities as Principal Magistrate and Judge of the Special Criminal Court, I handled a surfeit of politically sensitive cases, including but not limited to treason, sedition, and abuse of office,” Nkea wrote in one of his letters to Gambians published after fleeing the country.
Lawyer Lamin Babadinding Jobarteh, who once served as Minister of Justice under Jammeh at the height of the work of this special prosecutions unit, said he could not confirm the amount of money these prosecutors or judges were receiving as pay.
Pa Harry Jammeh, the solicitor general credited for recruiting these prosecutors said he could not recall how much the exact amount was. But he maintained that it was more than $2,000 for each of the prosecutors, adding that he could not also say how much money or monies were paid to the judges.
“If you understand the role of a Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, you know that I merely acted on directives… only for the same man to turn around and deny giving me those directives and accused me of crimes, such as abuse of office,” Jammeh said when contacted by The Point.
He was allegedly tortured during detention and convicted to serve a prison term until his pardon in 2015.