Gambia: Jammeh’s ploy to remain in office legally truncated by Supreme Court

Yahya Jammeh [Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAMBIA)]

The move by outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to stop the inauguration of the President-elect Adama Barrow suffered a major setback on Monday as the country’s Supreme Court refused to hear the application.

Last Thursday, the country’s ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, APRC, filed an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the inauguration of Mr. Barrow as President on January 19.

In the application signed by its lawyer, Edward Gomez, the APRC is asking the court for an order of interlocutory injunction preventing the chief judge of the country from inaugurating or swearing in Mr. Barrow as the President of The Gambia until the determination of the election petition.

The party also is asking the court for an order “restraining, the President from preparing, arranging, organising, conducting, partaking or participating in any manner or form in the swearing-in and /or inauguration of Adama Barrow as President of the Republic of The Gambia on January 19, 2017.”

The APRC further prayed the court for an order restraining the country’s National Assembly, its members and any organ of government from partaking in the inauguration of Mr. Barrow.

Lastly, the party prayed the court for an order stopping Mr. Barrow from presenting himself to the country’s Chief Judge or judiciary to be sworn-in as president of The Gambia.

But on Monday, the country’s chief judge, Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian, declined to grant the prayers requested by the APRC, which would have effectively extended the tenure of the country’s President Yahya Jammeh.

The court refused to consider the application on the ground that the application listed the Chief Judge, who is the only Supreme Court Judge at the moment, as a party in the application.

Mr. Fagbenle therefore stated that he could not give an order against himself.

He said he would remove himself from the suit in the interest of fairness. He then adjourned the election petition until the court is fully constituted.

Last Monday, the court ruled that it could not consider the election petition filed by the APRC because the required quorum of five judges to hear the petition was not met.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the quorum could not be formed because Nigeria and Sierra Leone declined the Gambian request to send judges to sit at the Supreme Court

The Gambia relies on judges and other judicial officials from other West African countries to help fill its draught of top officials in its judiciary.

Mr. Fagbenle said Gambia made a request for judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone since last August. But the countries’ judicial authorities said they could not send judges outside the usual May and November judicial sessions .

“You will recall that justices are usually scheduled to sit in your Supreme Court in the month of May and November,” a letter dated January 5, 2017 by the acting chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, to Mr. Fagbenle reads.

“Based on the long established understanding, our court sitting schedule is usually drawn up with the consideration of this assignment. In view of the above, I regret to inform you that the reschedule dates for the sitting session of your Supreme Court is unfavourable to us as it will greatly affect our schedule and case management. I therefore urge you to adhere to the earlier schedule of May and November each year to avoid inconveniences to both judiciaries.” Mr Onnoghen added.

By Monday’s ruling, Mr. Jammeh, who has vowed to remain in power, will be illegally occupying the office of the President of the tiny West African country after Wednesday when his tenure expires.

Already, the African Union has said it will not recognise Mr. Jammeh as Gambia’s president beyond that date.


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  • C3kwe

    Yayha Jammeh’s days are numbered. After the swearing in, he would be captured and bundled to the international Court in the Hague. He will surely regret this rascality.

  • Law Offices

    Premium Times Editor,

    Nobody can be sworn in as President of Gambia on Thursday

    There’s a nuanced legal point arising from your accurate report above.
    In Nigeria’s jurisprudence; which extends to The Gambia by reason of common judicial officers,
    anyone issued with notice of an injunction is to refrain from doing the act for which the interdict
    is sought; so as not to foist a fait accompli on a court when it later sits to hear a case for it.
    Therefore, it follows that the Chief Justice of The Gambia cannot attend the inauguration of
    Mr. Barrow this Thursday, the 19th of January. In other words Mr Barrow cannot be lawfully
    sworn into office on Thursday by the Chief Justice until the Supreme Court sits and decides.

    • emmanuel

      Dear Law Offices,
      First things first. Leaving Gambia matter for Gambians.
      At least we now know the name of the Professor killed in the TERRORIST attack in Northern Nigeria today as Aliyu Mani. This is commendable. Can Premium Times Editor (If it has any) now confirm to us the following details about the ‘about 12 yrs old’ suicide bomber ;
      … Name
      … Surname
      …School attended
      …Local Government of Origin
      …State of origin
      … Parents name
      …Address before the attack
      …last persons she spoke with or stayed with before the attack
      …etc etc etc

      We are tired of you giving us names of Islamic terrorists as simply “Suicide Bombers”. We want the FULL details and identity of these people otherwise a Sultan of Sokoto will come tell you that they are from Mali even when El-Ruffia is making monthly payments to them.

    • michaelnze

      do you understand that the incumbent was also sworn in five years ago even when the same injunction was filled in the same court by the opposition parties???? Only a properly constituted Supreme Court can stop the inauguration from taking place.

    • Emeka

      What then is the case of a winner of an election that has a legal mandate to be sworn in after a convincing winning of a poll.

  • emmanuel

    Dear EDITOR,
    At least we now know the name of the Professor killed in the TERRORIST attack in Northern Nigeria today as Aliyu Mani. This is commendable. Can Premium Times Editor (If it has any) now confirm to us the following details about the ‘about 12 yrs old’ suicide bomber ;
    … Name
    … Surname
    …School attended
    …Local Government of Origin
    …State of origin
    … Parents name
    …Address before the attack
    …last persons she spoke with or stayed with before the attack
    …etc etc etc

    We are tired of you giving us names of Islamic terrorists as simply “Suicide Bombers”. We want the FULL details and identity of these people otherwise a Sultan of Sokoto will come tell you that they are from Mali even when El-Ruffia is making monthly payments to them.

    • marcos avelino

      Useless Dog Kristian terrorist beheaded 2000 people daily in paris !

  • Nalako Saminu

    I smell unfairness in this Gambian dispute. By not allowing the judges to do their job even though request was made since August, Nigeria is unfairly interfering in the judicial process. Justice Onnoghen’s response that judges cannot attend to the case outside May and November does not sound convincing. Why the rush to solve the problem by force? It would be better to wait until the legal process is over.

    • Olusola

      Read again, Nigerian judges head to Gambia annually May and November and dispense of all cases pending. Except if Sierra Leone goes at such a time like this, Nigeria had done nothing wrong.

    • FirecloudOFGOD

      Grow up man!

    • CeeCee1818

      Is that you Jammeh? Please go jump in the nearest lake and drown!

    • kinsly

      Wait for the legal pocess to be ove? No one is stopping the legal pocess but why is Jammeh stopping tye inauguration process?

  • Sword of Damocles

    That man called “jammeh” needs to be removed using “komaguru, komaga” method by his ears, (one officer on either side of his coconut head). BLOCKHEAD bushman African leader cut from the same cloth as many before him. worthless vermin, only in Africa does the “lowest of the low” the “scum of the earth”, the most despicable lowest form of human existence rule of people. why? We find it hard to get away from a “state of nature”, where “survival of the fittest” is the RULE. whoever has the gun (Brute Versus the Meek/cerebral/intellectual). That man needs to be Ghadafied back to Hell where he was released from in the first place. Man I am tired of these animals. they all need to be exterminated as one would vermin.

    • CeeCee1818

      Absolutely!!! Toss them all in the sewage where they belong, a stinking end to stinking garbage!

  • FirecloudOFGOD

    “Mr. Fagbenle therefore stated that he could not give an order against himself.
    He said he would remove himself from the suit in the interest of fairness. He then adjourned the election petition until the court is fully constituted.”

    This effectively nails Jammeh.

    I wonder what tricks he will conjure up next. What with troops mounting in Senegal, Nigeria still ‘mediating’ but marshaling her own troops, and on the political front, AU clearly stating that they will recognize Barrow, Jammeh has little choice than arrange a safe exit! Time is running out.

  • Rommel

    Courts should be very careful how they treat requests that come to them,so far,this judge has conducted himself professionally,swearing in a new president would not prevent the case from going on,Yahya Jammeh will cease to be president of Gambia on the 19th and afterwards,he can pursue his case when the court reconvenes,this type of obstinacy only leads to grave.

    • CeeCee1818

      I worry about the safety of the incoming president, Jammeh needs to be locked up.

  • Otile

    Call a spade a spade, that is a legal jargon Yoruba judges and lawyers invoke when they want to subvert justice.

  • Law Offices

    @aligarba:disqus

    There are two decisive issues in The Gambia case.

    Firstly, it should pause the Ecowas authority that President Jammeh takes no recourse to force.
    President Jammeh insists on the Supreme court hearing this case to issue a final decision on law.
    Nigerian Judges make up 90% of the judges of the Supreme Court of Gambia, yet, Jammeh trusts.
    Why is President Jammeh so confident? Simple! No court can argue against the facts he presented.
    President Jammeh showed evidence of two contradictory results signed by the Electoral Commission.
    A court of law has no right to choose one result and reject the other as a basic matter of jurisprudence.
    Like cases of contradictory evidence before a court, the rule is to declare no evidence was presented.

    In Nigeria’s jurisprudence; which extends to The Gambia by reason of common judicial officers,
    anyone issued with notice of an injunction is to refrain from doing the act for which the interdict
    is sought; so as not to foist a fait accompli on a court when the court later sits to hear the case.
    Therefore, it follows that the Chief Justice of The Gambia cannot now attend the inauguration of
    Mr. Barrow this Thursday, the 19th of January. In other words, Mr Barrow himself cannot be lawfully
    sworn into office this Thursday by the Chief Justice until the Gambia Supreme Court sits to rule.

    • Fran

      In the Gambian constitution even a magistrate can sworn in a head of state. You get it wrong!

    • SamPsalm

      Nice try. Contradiction does not begin to mean two different results, each of which re-affirrned just one outcome: that Mr. Barrow won the election. The only difference being that the latter result, possibly a recount, only reduced the margin of the win. Recounts are all part of democracy – and whether you win by one or one billion votes more than your opponent, the only important thing is if you satisfied the legal requirement of securing a majority. There is no argument with that. Mr. Barrow did win the majority of the votes at the election as conducted by an agency under the incumbent government of Mr Barrow. So, please, your so-called contradiction, even under the most technical application of it in evidentiary proceedings is not material.

  • Fofona Frey

    DEAR EDITOR,

    Why Yahya Jammeh is a disgrace to black Africans

    Yahya Jammeh is a misfit as head of state. He is one of those General Obasanjo was breaking bread with,
    and believing himself to be engaged in ‘diplomacy’. No well-read person would tolerate Yahya Jammeh
    but Obasanjo could and did – with embrace and kisses planted on each other’s face. Here again,
    Yahya Jammeh exhibits the crass conduct that should repel anyone possessed of average
    intelligence in logical thinking. He got cameramen into the State House in Banjul to film
    him making a phone call to the President of Liberia in Monrovia – who was in a car
    at the time President Jammeh phoned un-expectedly. To sound less illiterate,
    Yahya Jammeh was reading what should be a conversation from a prepared
    text typed for the purpose. The Liberian President was not told she was
    being recorded overseas in Gambia or was she told that Yahya Jammeh
    would later take the video of the phone conversation to the national
    television station headquarters for national broadcast in Gambia.

    • Texancowboy

      Excuse me, please! ……Just a quick point………. I’m in a hurry. Just closed on night shift……..
      ……..in freezing winter right here. What Obasanjo did….by arresting a former head of state of…..
      Liberia and flying him right into the same place……..where that head of state was ransomed…..
      ……….. with asylum, is called ILLITERACY, not diplomacy. ……….There’s a drop of illiteracy…..
      ……………………………in every Nigerian who fails to grasp this basic point……………

      • B Comsat

        @Texancowboy: Ol’boy, the thing tire me O! Do you know that Charles Taylor
        was taken to the airport in Monrovia, Liberia, in handcuffs? Obasanjo put him in cuffs.
        How can a sensible man put a fellow ex head of state he granted asylum in handcuffs?
        Anyway sha, we will see how Olusegun Obasanjo too will meet his own Waterloo soon.
        General Olusegun Obasanjo is a most local, un-informed and un-enlightened Nigerian.

        • Chief Priest

          @aligarba:disqus

          “Interlocutory injunction”,
          as a term of law has truly been so thoroughly abused
          in meaning and purpose in Nigeria that the mere mention of it is like
          pronouncing oneself corrupt in a church, but the phrase is not meant to give
          offence at all. It is what the law advises disputants to do, by cooling off
          from moving forward with any act causing a conflict. It is now what Judges in
          Nigeria, including a few Supreme Court judges ask and take bribes to issue.

          What a country! Even in The Gambia, there is no reason why an administrative
          order can’t be made by the Chief Justice of Gambia sitting alone. Why leave the
          country to drift in the name of recusal? That’s not what courts exist to do. The
          doctrine of necessity in law, not in its mangled meaning in the Senate of Nigeria,
          permits a single judge to issue an order for law and order if the remainder
          judges cannot be readily made available to form a quorum.

        • NEWS REEL

          “Prolonged political uncertainty and fear of unrest have pushed thousands of Gambians across

          the border into neighbouring Senegal and farther to Guinea-Bissau. The national coordinator for

          Guinea-Bissau’s refugee commission, Tibna Sambe Na Wana said more than 1,000 Gambians

          had crossed into the country where they do not require a visa, in recent days. ‘It is clear that

          the total number is far higher than a thousand and rising daily’, Na Wana said”.

          …………News Feed Africa

          (January 16th, 2017)

        • Oladele

          Provide evidence, as I am not aware Taylor left Liberia in cuff. He handed over power and came to Nigeria of his free will. He was later arrested shortly after leaving Nigerian borders around Potiskum and he was in cuff from that point. Kindly provide evidence of him leaving Liberia on the instruction of Obasanjo in cuff.

      • ?????????

        WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GENERAL OBASANJO AND LIEUTENANT JAMMEH?

  • Globa Skolar

    I CAN’T IMAGINE MYSELF
    IN THE SAME ROOM WITH YAHYA JAMMEH; OR, EVER IMAGINE MYSELF AT A DINNER TABLE
    FOR ANY REASON WITH ANY OF THE SO-CALLED AFRICAN PRESIDENTS; PAST OR PRESENT,
    AFTER NELSON MANDELA PASSED AWAY IN A SOLITARY BLAZE OF GLORY.

    • SamPsalm

      You must like food a lot. Dinner table ko,Lunch basin ni

      • duwdu

        LOL.

        P34c3
        ……..
        …..

      • CeeCee1818

        Lol! Sam be nice.

    • CeeCee1818

      You’re too kind, I don’t even want to breathe the same air with them.