#Article (Archive)

CJ Savage Reacts to Foni Bintang NAM

Apr 8, 2008, 6:07 AM

The office of the Chief Justice has issued to The Point a rejoinder regarding comments made by the Honourable Member for Foni Bintang, Ebrima Solo Jammeh, and published in the 3rdApril issue of the paper. Below is the text in full: 

The Office of the Chief Justice is very perturbed and concerned about the contribution made in the National Assembly by the Hon. Member for Foni Bintang Constituency which was published in your newspaper on Thursday April 03, 2008 under the above caption and therefore submits the following rejoinder for publication. 

The Hon Member is reported by your paper as having claimed that "the slow process of the case (i.e. the Babylon case in which over 80 people were arrested and arraigned for three criminal offences) created a problem that led to a state of disaster..." With the greatest respect to the Hon member, this assertion is not borne out by the facts. 

There are two cases in court concerning "Babylon". One a criminal matter before Senior Magistrate Edrissa F Mbai at Brikama Magistrates Court involving Lamin Jarju of "Babylon" and the second a civil suit before Hon Mrs. Justice Nguie Mboob-Janneh between Abdou Colley and the said Lamin Jarju at the High Court in Brikama. 

In the criminal case, Lamin Jarju of "Babylon" was on 9th May 2007 charged with the offence of impersonating a public officer, contrary to section 93(b) of the criminal code. Jarju pleaded not guilty and the case proceeded to trial. Four witnesses, including the Paramount Chief, testified before Mr. Mbai and were cross-examined by the Defence lawyer. At the close of the prosecution's case, the Defence made a "no case to answer" submission and the prosecutor replied. On 9th October 2007, Senior Magistrate Mbai ruled on the issue and held that Jarju had a case to answer. The Defence, thereafter, filed an appeal against Mr Mbai's ruling in the High Court (at Brikama) and applied for a stay of his proceedings. The presiding Judge, Hon Mrs. Justice Nguie Mboob-Janneh, granted the stay and ordered the lawyers for the respective parties to file their respective appellate briefs and scheduled the appeal for hearing.

As regards the civil matter, it was commenced by Abdou Colley against Lamin Jarju at the Kombo North District Tribunal who found in Colley's favour. Jarju then applied to the High Court (Brikama) for a writ of certiorari to quash the Tribunal's proceedings on grounds of irregularity. The Judge, Hon Mrs. Justice Avril Yeboah, having heard the matter, quashed the tribunal proceedings. In October 2007, Colley's lawyer applied to the High Court to demolish structures at "
Babylon" and this matter has also been scheduled for hearing by Hon Mrs. Justice Nguie Mboob- Janneh.
It is clear from the above that the courts, in both cases, adhered to the due the process of law, and carried out their mandate within a reasonable time. The suggestion by the Hon Member that the delay of these cases "for over three years" caused the havoc and mayhem at "Babylon" is factually wrong. We entirely agree that delays do cause problems; however, they do not give anyone a license to take the law into his hand. 

Considerable efforts are being made by the Judiciary to ensure speedy disposal of cases. Magistrates and judicial officers are regularly reminded of this policy goal. However, due to a combination of factors, among them the involvement of lawyers, parties and witnesses in court cases, adherence to due process procedures by courts, the peculiar nature of certain cases and the human element, delays are unavoidable in some cases. In general, cases proceed swiftly in courts.

The Hon Member's claim in the National Assembly that the "
Babylon" case has been pending in the courts "for over three years" was misleading. It would be profitable if public officials could verify and ascertain facts before making statements that lack empirical evidences and thereby advertently or inadvertently besmear the image of the Judiciary which has started implementing its noble vision of a free, just and peaceful society