By Kebba Jeffang
Honourable Ali Nawaz Chowttan, the Chief Justice of the Gambia has urged District Chiefs across the Gambia during the annual “mansabengo” to start codifying customary law and the proceedings at their various district tribunals. The programme was held at the Lower River Region headquarters, Mansankonko, on Saturday 14 June, 2014.
In addressing the forty district chiefs in the country, he said all the chiefs from now on should adopt the system of recording their proceedings since records on print can serve different purposes. He said the chiefs are very important and experienced, but having their proceedings on record would have a lot of advantages. He opined that records can serve a purpose even if they are not there, either after death or upon removal or at any time it is needed. He said it can also help litigants to appeal their cases at the High Court whenever they wish to do so.
He added that there is an urgent need for codification so that justice can be exercised and that nobody would be discriminated for lack of justice. He said chiefs are the fulcrum of civilization especially in the rural areas; adding that people have trust in them and therefore any case before them for adjudication must be fairly done.
He said since the chiefs apply customary law, it should be written down to avoid burying valuable information. He urged for proper recording system for the purpose of the future. He added that culture is something that needs to be preserved for the younger generation. He assured them that they would soon organize training sessions for the chiefs as part of building their capacity by strengthening their understanding of judicial matters. He said from now on district tribunals are expected to present their records of proceedings at the High Court any time an appeal is filed.
He said that since law is fixed and determined, it is important to bring it into print. He said all these are efforts to make sure the Gambian judiciary becomes the best but this can only be achieved if the judiciary works harder and one way to do so is to ensure that justice prevails.