QUESTION OF THE DAY
DO THE AGENTS OF THE EXECUTIVE HAVE ANY LAWFUL AUTHORITY TO DEFY A COURT ORDER,
such as an order to produce a detainee in court?
The answer to this question is in the negative. Any defiance of a court order is unlawful. If Courts acquit people and they continue to be kept in custody for the same offence for which they have been acquitted then justice is crucified before the altar of might.
That would amount to contempt of court. Section 122 of the Constitution states:
“In addition to any other power conferred on the court, each of the superior courts shall –
(a) be a superior court of record and shall have power to commit for contempt to itself and all such power as are vested in a court of record;
(b) in relation to any matter within its jurisdiction, have power to issue such orders and direction as may be necessary to ensure the enforcement of any judgment, decree or order of the court.”
Hence all law enforcement agents are duty bound to respect and implement the orders of courts.
If the high court plays its role and those unlawfully detained seek its protection there will be no detention without trial.
The judiciary has the duty to deliver justice and save the citizenry from any abuse of might. This is clearly stipulated in Section 120 Subsections (2), (3) and (4) of the Constitution. The following subsections of section 120 of the Constitution should be committed to memory by all those who want to know the true functions and powers of the judiciary which could be exercised by all honest judicial personnel:
“(2) The judicial power of The Gambia is vested in the courts and shall be exercised by them according to the respective jurisdiction conferred on them by law.
“(3) In the exercise of their judicial functions, the courts, the judges and other holders of judicial office shall be independent and shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law, and, save as provided in this Chapter, shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority.
“(4) 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.”