Mar 22, 2010, 2:03 PM
The newly-appointed Chief Justice of The Gambia officially took the oath of office yesterday with a pledge to build a sound, credible judiciary, respected for its integrity, fairness and justice.
Justice Mabel Yamoa Agyemang, who was recently appointed to the post, replacing Justice Joseph Wowo, took the oaths of office, allegiance and secrecy at a ceremony presided over by President Yahya Jammeh at State House in Banjul.
‘‘I pledge to perform the functions of my office with diligence, excellence and devotion to duty. I recognize that with a high honour comes responsibility.
‘‘I pledge to work hard, to be focused on the task to ensure adherence to the rule of law as it impacts on good governance, and to carry my colleagues with me in the quest to build a sound, credible judiciary, respected for its integrity, fairness and justice,’’ Justice Agyemang stated.
The Gambia, she added, has been her home for an accumulated period of seven years, and she is grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of this great country in the capacity of Chief Justice.
‘‘I am grateful for the cooperation, the words of encouragement and the genuine expression of appreciation for my work that I have received from people in justice delivery over the years,’’ she said.
According to Justice Agyemang, a Ghanaian, The Gambia has contributed to her personal and professional growth and in the embrace by her people, she has never been made to feel like an outsider.
‘‘It is, therefore, a singular honour for me and my family to be here today, and I am truly humbled and I stand in all for this great opportunity accorded me to stand up in the country,’’ she stated.
Amie Joof, the attorney general and minister of Justice, thanked Justice Agyemeng for accepting to lead the judiciary, which she said is not and will not be an easy task.
‘‘Having worked with Justice Agyemang, her competence, loyalty and commitment is not questionable. I know she has a vision for the judiciary and that vision will no doubt complement the President’s vision and for the country in general,’’ she stated.
Justice Minister Joof called on all the security chiefs and law enforcers to work with both the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of protecting the government and the people of The Gambia and the nation in general.
‘‘Indeed the judiciary is the beacon of hope for all aggrieved individuals, it is the last port of call for those seeking justice; therefore the integrity of the judiciary, the judicial officers is paramount, and must not be tainted,’’ she noted.
According to her, there is zero tolerance for corruption, particularly in the judiciary, and justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.
‘‘Judgments must be well reasoned, must be supported by all the evidence and the law; judicial officers must comport themselves in line with their roles as judicial officers in a judicial manner that is expected of them,’’ the Justice minister added.
Noting that the integrity of individuals should be, must be and will be at the forefront of any judicial appointment, Justice Minister Joof said, if the temple of justice is untainted, it will open doors to confidence to the citizenry and development as a whole.
President Jammeh commended Justice Agyemang for accepting the appointment, and for being the first woman to be appointed as Chief Justice of The Gambia.
He told cabinet members, judicial staff among others that in appointing people to any position, his sole consideration is merit not gender.
‘‘Men were there, but I see no reason why if you have an able woman, you cannot be there as well,’’ he said, adding that the judiciary is one arm of government that he always pays attention to because it deals with the freedom and liberties of people, and whatever action is taken there has a direct bearing on governance and to him as the head of state of the country.
‘‘I want to make sure that when I read in the papers that somebody has gone to jail, my conscience is clear. I want to make sure that whenever somebody has to face the ultimate penalty for the ultimate crime he or she has committed, I will go to bed easily knowing that justice has been done,’’ he stated.
He denounced the practice of adjourning cases in court, stressing that he hates reading adjournments.
‘‘It is not only justice being done that is important to anybody who is aggrieved, but done on time,’’ President Jammeh declared.