By MUHAMMED S. BAH
The Gambia Bar Association (GBA), on Monday 19 December called for the resignation of the Chief Justice of The Gambia Justice Emmanuel Fagbele.
This call was made through a letter dated 13 December 2016 and addressed to the Chief Justice.
Speaking to this reporter Omar Bah one of the members of the GBA, said the letter was as a result of a resolution passed unanimously during an emergency meeting held on the 12 December 2016 mandating the Executive of the Association to call for the resignation of Justice Fagbenle as the Chief Justice of The Gambia.
In their letter to the Chief Justice, dated 13th December 2016 the Bar was not pleased with his conduct during the presidential campaign and opined that it has purportedly brought disrepute to the Office.
The letter did argue that as the Head of the third arm of Government, he is expected to maintain and uphold certain standards but in their opinion he failed to do so; that as head of the judiciary and the administrative head of all judicial officers, it was his duty to ensure and maintain this independence.
The letter cited the Judges (Supplementary Code of Conduct) Act which stipulates that ‘A Judge must strive to ensure that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances confidence in his or her impartiality and that of the Judiciary.’ Furthermore that ‘A Judge must – (a) not participate in partisan or political activity or association; and (b) on assumption of judicial office, cease absolutely and unequivocally a partisan political activity or association.
Still further, “A Judge must avoid any public gathering if he or she considers that a mere attendance at the gathering might reasonably – (a) give rise to a perception of an ongoing political involvement; or (b) put in question his or her impartiality on an issue that could come before the court.”
The letter alleges that during the campaign period for the 2016 Presidential Elections the chief justice engaged in activities which violated these provisions and compromised the independence of the Judiciary. The letter cited some instances to back their assertions.
The Bar was in fact dissatisfied with his entire tenure alleging that he acted in a manner that compromised the independence of the judiciary.
The Bar in their letter expressed their lack of faith in his ability to discharge the function of Chief Justice and asked him to resign.