Chief-Justice recuses himself from case to stop Barrow’s inauguration

By Mamadou Dem & Rohey Jadama  

Emmanuel O. Fagbenle, the Chief-Justice of The Gambia, on Monday 16thJanuary, 2017 recused himself from hearing the injunction filed by the APRC attorney, Edward Antony Gomez, restraining him (Fagbenle) and any other judicial staff as well as the  President-elect Adama Barrow from proceeding with the swearing in or inauguration of the latter.

“Considering that the injunction affects me in my capacity as the Chief Justice, I will recuse myself from hearing the motion. Therefore, I will advise that you wait for the Supreme Court to be properly constituted or allow any of my learned brothers to deal with the case,” said Chief Justice Fagbenle in his ruling.

He added that the motion should therefore wait for the proper formation of the Supreme Court or to allow the judges to arrive in the Gambia either in May or November.

“I appeal to civil elders from the length and breadth of this country to continue yearning for peace in ensuring a peaceful resolution in this political impasse,” implored the head of the Gambian judiciary.

Chief Justice Fagbenle accordingly adjourned the matter to May and November or any other earlier date.

Barrister Gomez, who is representing the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, in an interview, said his client is not in any way losing the legal battle.

According to barrister Gomez, what he expected in yesterday’s proceeding regarding the injunction was to be availed with a date or at least two clear dates to come back to Court for the matter to be heard.

Asked whether it is possible to have an injunction barring Adama Barrow from being inaugurated, he said “That is certainly not possible under these circumstances because the Chief Justice made it very clear that he cannot preside over the case as it affects him in his capacity as the Chief Justice.”

Asked what he expects to achieve when the case comes up again, he responded, “What I hope is there could be a judge or judges to preside over the matter”.

Earlier, counsel for the petitioner highlighted numerous points contained in a seventeen paragraph affidavit sworn to by Barrister Ibrahim Jallow of Gomez Law Chambers indicating some of the difficulties encountered by the process server  who was personally  serving the respondents i.e. the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Retuning Officer of the IEC, and Adama Barrow. He therefore relied on all the paragraphs contained on the said affidavit, particularly paragraphs 2 and 16. He then urged the court to grant them as prayed.

“My lord, I would like us to come back on Wednesday so that the motion can be heard in the interest of justice, peace and tranquility,” lawyer Gomez solicited. He added “I believe it’s in the interest of justice, peace and tranquility that this application (injunction) be heard.”

The presiding judge, in his ruling, granted the application for substitution of services and ordered for advertisements to be made on the daily newspapers that enjoy wide range of circulation within the territory of the Gambia, namely the Daily Observer, The Point, Foroyaa and Standard newspapers. He also added that the same should be advertised on both the national television and radio (GRTS) respectively.

Chief Justice finally reiterated the importance of resolving this matter internally, adding that the appointment of a mediator general was a step in the right direction.  He then ordered the Registrar of the apex court to adjourn all pending Supreme Court cases to either May or November 2017.