By Lamin Sanyang
A panel three judges of The Gambia Court of Appeal, headed by Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, on Monday, 12 January, upheld the two year mandatory jail term handed down to former Chief Justice, Joseph Wowo, after ruling that the appeal lacked merit and competence.
Headed by Justice Fagbenle, president of the Gambia Court of Appeal (GCA), the other members of the panel included Justice Naceesay Sallah-Wadda and Justice Awa Bah.
The former Chief Justice was found guilty of offences such as abuse of office, fraud and breach of trust, conspiracy to defeat justice and interference with witnesses relating to judicial proceedings, giving false information and false assumption of authority. He was consequently convicted and sentenced to serve prison terms along with Mr. Lamin A.M.S. Jobarteh, the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
The appeal judges upheld the conviction and sentence of the lower court since December, last year (last month) but did not advance the reasons for dismissing the appeal until yesterday.
Justice Fagbenle made a marathon review of the judgment handed down by Justice Emmanuel Nkea, a former judge at the Special Criminal Division of the High Court. He highlighted the testimonies and evidences submitted by both prosecution and defense and the rulings on both the ‘no case’ submission and the judge to recuse himself from the case, among others.
He cited the sixteen (16) grounds of appeal filed by the appellant on the grounds that they were invalid because of late filing, adding that the appeal should be filed within 10 day after the judgment was delivered and which, he said, was not the case. He referred to the cases of Femi Peters and Edward Graham among others.