WILL THE APPOINTMENT OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE FOLLOW THAT OF THE MINISTERS?

The resignation of Chief Justice Fagbenle during the impasse in transferring executive power from outgoing president Jammeh to incoming President Barrow left a vacuum in the judicial system which has to be filled as quickly as possible even though the most senior judge could act as Chief Justice.

This is asserted by Section 140 of the Constitution which reads:

“In the event of there being a vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice, or if he or she is, for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, the President may appoint the most senior judge of the Supreme Court to act in that office –

(a)     until a person has been substantively appointed to, and assumed the functions of that office; or

(b)     until the Chief Justice has resumed the functions of his or her office, as the case may be.     

A vacancy in the office of Chief Justice shall be filled by a substantive appointment within six months.”

The new Attorney General who will be the principal legal adviser of the Government is duty bound to ensure that the qualifications for being a judge are clearly conveyed to the Executive so that judges will be appointed to fill all vacancies.