The misguided and arrogant firing of the Chief Justice has once again renewed President Yahya Jammeh’s high level of intolerance and desire to have everything under control, including the Judiciary, which serves as the last bastion of hope.
No reasons – of course Gambians will not have the right to know – have been advanced for the firing and expulsion of Justice Nawaz Chowan. But this cannot prevent rumors to thrive, typical in a country where the government sits on vital public information. Since the development came on the heels of the acquittal of Rear Admiral Sarjo Fofana, the former Navy chief, most people were quick to connect the two.
Brutal dictators like Yahya Jammeh will bully anyone that stands between them and thier interest. It’s either their way or the highway, period.
Jammeh is once again putting into action his belief that “judges are not and must not be independent of government’s interest.” That’s why woe betides any adjudicator whose verdict goes against the government’s interest.
Since seizing power by force in 1994, Jammeh has fired at least 18 ministers of justice. His government has also either fired record number of judgese and magistrates for being impartial in ganding down in their verdicts. In fact, Jammeh has fired more than 10 Chief Justices.
On the flipside, his government punished those judicial officials after using them as weapons to wreck havoc on innocent citizens. These disgraced people include former Chief Justice Joseph Wowo and former Justice Minister Lamin Jobarteh who are both serving prison terms in Mile 2.
President Jammeh is said to have expressed his disapproval of the unprecedented judgement hence the sacking of the Chief Justice. Indeed Yahya Jammeh is known for his meddling into the decisions of the courts such that Gambians have now lost confidence in the judiciary.
Judicial appointments to the bench which used to be life-long stable jobs in the Gambia are today seen as the most insecure jobs, resulting to self-censorship.