Five newly appointed and sworn-in Judges were yesterday introduced to the Gambia Bar Association and to the public, at a ceremony held at the High Court in
Speaking at the ceremony, the newly appointed Chief Justice of the
"As Chief Justice, I prefer to commit myself to ensuring that the Judiciary vigorously pursues the realisation of the expectations of the government as contained in its Legal Sector Strategy for 2007-2011," he stated. Some of these, he added, was meant to create a free, fair and speedy legal/justice system and to stimulate a positive change in the attitude of all stakeholders; to provide required infrastructure, technological and material resources to support the delivery of an efficient justice system, to develop, grow, and motivate a well-trained cadre of judicial/legal officers and support staffs who are committed to delivering quality services; to ensure access to justice for the poor and the disadvantaged; to create an enabling regulatory environment for good governance; to enhance the status of the judiciary and improve the understanding of the role of the judiciary in society; to deliver value and satisfaction to all litigants and to develop non-adversarial mechanism for dispute resolution.
According to Chief Justice Agim, the government of the
In this light, he said, there is a need to focus all their attentions on reducing delay in court processes at all levels from the pre-trial stage in the court registries or settlement proceeding to the trial and appellate stages.
According to him, the greatest impediment to access to justice is delayed in the court proceedings, noting that such delay also increases the cost of seeking justice.
"The Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, the Bar, the Police and other agencies of the administration of justice have a shared responsibility to reduce the delay in the justice process," he stated.
Agim stated that "We must urgently develop a strategy to deal with the perennial problem of delay in trial processes and the resulting problem of backlog of cases". This, he added, includes identifying the extent and actual cause of the incidence of backlog of cases, and arriving at sustainable solutions.
"We must as members and staff of the Judiciary reorientate ourselves on the requirements of effective service delivery. These include to be vigorous on the job training of judicial officers, including other staff and putting in place a disciplined court administration," Chief Justice Agim stated.
He argued that a court without rules cannot certainly live up to its name as a court, adding that they must wake up to the emerging realities of the massive increase in the number of cases coming to the court and the need to recruit more Judges and Magistrates to reduce the unreasonable high number of cases being handled by each Judicial Officer at a time.
According to him, he intent to work with the Bar to strategise for expeditious disposal of cases and to ensure that the government's national vision visa vis, the global vision on justice delivery is attained.
He therefore called on the members of the legal profession to rededicate themselves to the ethics of the profession as applicable globally.
"We cannot have an efficient and effective court system where either the Bench or the Bar, or all of them have no regards to the rules of the profession and judicial ethics," he stated.
Chief Justice Agim finally added that the legal profession has a greater responsibility to guarantee the independence of the Judiciary by acting ethically and in accordance with the law and the constitution of the land.
"That is the only way we can attract respect of our independence," he categorically stated.
The newly appointed Judges were Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim (ORG) as the Chief Justice of the Republic of The Gambia, Justice Esther Awo Ota as President, Court of Appeal of the Gambia, Justice Gilbert Abiodu Obayan as the Judge, Court of Appeal of The Gambia, Justice James Kalaole as the Judge, Court of Appeal of The Gambia and Justice Emmanuel Olusegun Fagbenle as the Judge of the High Court of The Gambia.