of the many convicts of former high court judge Emmanue Nkea has described him as
“a mercenary judge” whose judgments were based on dictates from former
President Yahya Jammeh.
“Where on earth would you say anyone deserves death penalty for simply distributing a hundred T-shirts? Even if our laws had called for a death penalty for distributing T-shirts, I think a judge who is well versed in the law and has some conscience would not be making any case along those lines,” said Amadou Scattred Janneh, former Information Minister under Jammeh.
For simply distributing T-shirts in The Gambia, under the reigns of former President Jammeh and calling for an end to dictatorship, Emmanuel Nkea convicted Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, then a businessman and civil society activist to life imprisonment.
According to the judge, a death penalty would have been appropriate for Janneh’s action.
Janneh’s lawyer, Lamin Camara, described the sentence as “very harsh”, as court staff members gazed in awe, covering their mouth as Dr Janneh and others got shackled at feet, hands and cuffed from behind, as they whisked them away under heavy armed guards to Mile 2 Prisons.
However, on September 22nd Edition of The Point, Nkea said: “Scattered Janneh was found guilty and convicted as charged for treason... I gave him the sentence required by the Gambian law.”
He also admitted that he handled “a surfeit of politically sensitive cases, including but not limited to treason, sedition, and abuse of office.”
“There were frequent and numerous politically-motivated arrests and it was 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. But in the dispensation of justice, the court is limited to the facts before it, and cannot decline jurisdiction only because the initial arrest was predicated on something else,” Nkea argued.
Meanwhile, Mr. Janneh said Nkea would not have risked his career.
“The fact that his family benefitted directly from payments from the state, he went beyond the call of duty to sentence me and several others to make sure we were locked up in order to impress Jammeh.”
Janneh said: “Nkea is a mercenary doing everything to sanitise his image now that Jammeh is history.
“The judge implemented Jammeh’s wishes more than anything else. Nowhere on earth will a judge pass a sentence of life or death for distributing T-shirts when there was nothing that indicates there was violence, no conspiracy to do anything beyond distributing T-shirts and calling for end to dictatorship.”
Janneh said he never “threatened anyone’s life; no one’s security was threatened.
“So I can’t understand why one would say that a death penalty would have been appropriate for distributing a hundred T-shirts, even though the law calls for alife sentence, according to him,” he argued.
Asked if he can prove that Nkea and other officials of the special court used to receive bonuses for their services, Janneh said, he does not have any evidence to that effect. But he noted that all indications were that Jammeh used to pay them large sums of money.
He said: “Their earning incomes here that they would not ordinarily get in their home countries or anywhere else... [Is an indication]. We also know that Jammeh hired and fired them at will, their appointments and dismissals were not dictated by any judicial service commission.
“Therefore, they make sure that they toe the regime’s line in order not to lose various benefits (such as their kids being sent to university for free in addition to payments they were getting, the security, free cars and holiday tickets at the expense of the state).”