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Banjul Magistrates' Court Short on Magistrates?

Jul 25, 2008, 8:34 AM | Article By: By Bakary Samateh

In what could be described as a crises situation at the Banjul Magistrates' Court, litigants have started showing signs of frustration at the apparent shortage of magistrates and the resultant impact on the progress of cases. Barely a month after the departure of the former Principal Magistrate, Magistrate B.Y. Camara, who was later promoted to the position of judge before being dismissed and the untimely resignation of Senior Magistrate Mboto, the Banjul Magistrates' Court is now operating with only one magistrate. "The only Magistrate operating is Magistrate Kayode and of course he alone cannot handle all the case files at Banjul Magistrates' Court. Though he is capable, he cannot do it because ofthe large number of cases at that court," said a seemingly frustrated litigant.

According another concerned litigant, since the dismissal and resignation of these two magistrates, their cases have not been proceeding effectively. He lamented the monotony of having to come to court only to sit down idly without their cases proceeding. " We are endlessly coming here at every adjourned date to see whether there will be any development in our cases, but still no changes. The situation is disturbing and we have families and businesses to take care of," he said.

When contacted for clarification, Mr. Haruna Jaiteh, the Judicial Secretary, reassured that the situation would soon be brought under control.

He was however quick to add that "there is no desperate condition as the litigants may allege to say. Perhaps by Monday everything will be sorted out."

He explained that four magistrates went for professional studies in Sierra Leone. He went on to say that one of these, Moses Richards, has been promoted to a judge.

He further pointed out that two magistrates returned just last week, after successfully completing their professional courses. He disclosed that one of these would be posted at the Banjul Magistrates' Court in due course.