DIEDRICH LAND OCCUPATION LEFT IN LIMBO AUTHORITY OF JUDICIAL POWER UNDERMINED

Section 120 subsection (1) of the Constitution states:
“The judicial power of The Gambia is vested in the courts and shall be
exercised by them according to the respective jurisdictions conferred
on them by law.”Furthermore, section 132 of the Constitution empowers the high court
with original jurisdiction “to hear and determine all criminal
proceedings” with the exception of proceedings for which the Supreme
Court has exclusive jurisdiction.

On 2 October 2012, the high court entered judgment in favour of Bernd
Georg Diedrich in his seven year civil suit. In his judgment, the high
court judge declared that Mr. Diedrich is the rightful owner of the
suitland and that all transfers and allocations of land to the
defendants are null and void. The court ordered that the defendants be
evicted from the suitland and granted “a perpetual injunction
restraining the defendants from entering in, interfering with or
building on, developing or in any way interfering with the suitland.”

However, according to Mr. Diedrich, on 23 December 2014, some
officials of physical planning department accompanied with about a
dozen fully armed PIU personnel ordered him to vacate the land
declared by the court to be his own. The permanent secretary, ministry
of lands indicated that this was the consequence of an executive order
and declined to make any further comment.

Needless to say, the position of the Constitution on such matters is
quite explicit. According to section 120 subsection (3) of the
Constitution: “The Government and all departments and agencies of the
Government shall accord such assistance to the courts as the courts
may reasonably require to protect their independence, dignity and
effectiveness.”

In short, what the president, ministers, permanent secretaries,
department heads and police ought to do is to assist the courts in
executing their orders not undermining the authority of the courts.
In a democracy, it is the rule of law which prevails while in a
tyranny the rule of might takes sway. What Gambians cherish is to live
in liberty, dignity and prosperity and which calls for democracy.
It goes without saying that a leader has no moral authority to protest
against oppression and exploitation by outside powers while injustice
continues to prevail in his/her country.