Gambian law graduates have accused the new government of neglecting and abandoning them by employing foreign judges and magistrates.
“We were promised by both the President and the Chief Justice that they are on the drive to Gambianize the Judiciary. But this is yet to happen,” one of them, who prefer to remain anonymous told What’s On-Gambia.
One of the Nigerian magistrates, whose contract was recently renewed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is Hillary Abekeh, the Principal Magistrate in Kanifing. He was a truck driver in his native Nigeria before he was offered a job in The Gambia through the former Chief Justice.
According to a source close to the JSC, the renewal of Abekeh’s contract came as a surprise to the legal fraternity.
“There is no excuse for maintaining foreign Magistrates. We have too many Gambians that are fit and able to be Magistrates. It's not about competence that Abekeh is maintained. He is too stupid a man to be a Magistrate. He lacks the knowledge of both substantive and procedural laws. He is a storyteller. You go to his court and all you learn is stories.”
The sourced added: “Foreign judicial officers are known for comprising cases to favour people who tipped them monies. For someone like Abekeh, he comes to court anytime he feels like and goes home at his pleasure. Sometimes he will come to court and not sit. He will be roaming the whole court premises whilst people who came afar for their cases will be told there are no sittings. Lawyers are frustrated. Litigants are desperate. Remand prisoners are rotten in Mile 2 Remand Wing. Thanks to Abekeh.”
What’s On-Gambia gathered that there are so many petitions against Abekeh. Lawyers have written to the current Chief Justice protesting against his behaviour.
“Remember when foreign judicial officers act badly, it's not their names that are mentioned but the Judiciary of The Gambia. How long shall we continue to have our judicial system tainted by foreigners? Let's be wise,” said our source.
The source further revealed that Gambian graduates from the Law School in Banjul have applied to be Magistrates, but were told that there were no vacancies.