columnBy Ousman Njie
These past months Chief Justice Agim has been a subject of attention in the online Media. Speculation was rife as to whether he was going to leave or not.
Anonymous publication also attributed opinions regarding the social fabric of the Gambia which he has dismissed. He considers the elimination of the backlog of cases and the near Gambianisation of the Judiciary as his major achievements. He is now leaving for Nigeria to serve as member of the Court of Appeal in his own state.
Readers would recall that Nigerian Judges have been referred to as mercenary judges and a lot of pressure has been put on them to leave the Gambia. When all the Nigerian Judges are gone, Gambians will be left with their own judicial system.
Hence it is time to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the Gambian Judicial system in order to pave a way forward and stop blaming foreigners for the follies of our own political leadership from 1970 to date.
According to Section 141 of the Constitution, the pensionable age for judges is 70 years. It is very strange that throughout Gambian history no Gambian judge has ever retired as Chief Justice of the Republic of the Gambia. Very brilliant legal minds have surfaced in the Country and simply allowed to be submerged into the routine of every day existence. Some have even written books or are absorbed into international bodies to serve humanity.
The Separation of powers is incomplete as long as the post of Chief Justice is held on contract basis and the executive exercises the power to remove judges from Office. Any Government which is truly committed to the Independence of the judiciary must address these two factors. Let us see what the current Government would do to address these two elements.