Friday, January 6, 2017

Jammeh's Supreme Court's strategy collapses as Nigerian judges flee the country

Jammeh receiving Buhari at State House 
Yaya Jammeh seems to be moving the goal posts as he gains confidence with every success that appears to gain him control of the narrative following his decision to reverse an earlier decision to concede defeat to Adama Barrow after results of the December 1st presidential elections clearly and indisputably favored the 51-year old real estate developer.

In his nationally televised speech in which he explained the reasons for rescinding his concession to the winner of the elections.  He declared his party's intention to file a petition with the Supreme Court of The Gambia to "nullify the results as declared by the Independent Electoral Commission and to call for fresh elections."  That was then.  This is now.

According to sources close to the law courts, Jammeh's petition instead of calling for fresh elections is now asking the Supreme Court to declare him the outright winner of the December 1st presidential elections, suggesting that his earlier position of calling for a do-over has changed over the one month period he's been able to dictate the pace and narrative of the electoral impasse.  Jammeh is asking the Supreme Court to declare that the elections were not free and fair and that he (Jammeh) won but was cheated out of a well deserved victory.  Declaring Jammeh the winner is a far cry from his earlier public position which, as far as can be ascertained, has not been publicly corrected thus leaving the general public in the dark and in a misleading fashion which is typical Yaya Jammeh.

Yaya Jammeh will be facing an even more insurmountable problem of putting together a legally-constituted Supreme Court whose membership is currently comprised of a sole Justice who happens to be the Nigerian Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle.  A minimum of five justices out of the full compliment of seven members can sit in judgement.  The challenge facing Jammeh and his chief headhunters (the Chief Justice, Director of Public Prosecution and the Justice Minister) is to fill in, at least the four vacancies required to constitute a quorum.
Judge Dada and other Nigerian judges 

As we write this blog post, information is filtering that Chief Justice Fagbenle, who had earlier repatriated all the members of his family and movable properties to his native Nigeria, has himself fled The Gambia via the town of Basse in the Upper River (easternmost region of the country).  If confirmed, he will be escaping the glaring international spotlight that Jammeh's intransigence has brought to a few Nigerian judges and magistrates that have helped the dictatorship weaponize the Gambian judiciary to great effectiveness against opposition parties and opponents of the regime.

The recruitment huddles the regime must overcome appear to be growing as the scheduled date of 10th January for the sitting of the Supreme Court draws near which now appears to include the Chief Justice of Nigeria for reportedly denying clearance for a former Chief Justice of The Gambia, Emmanuel Agim, to take up the position as one of the judges of the Supreme Court.  The Nigerian government is obviously concerned about the image of the country as well its own image given the major role Nigeria is playing in Gambia current political impasse.

Attrition within the Nigerian judicial community in The Gambia is also taking its toll.   Last June, seven Nigerian judges and magistrates were recruited into the Gambian judiciary to add to the in-country stock.  According to sources, all but three Nigerian judges and magistrates have left the country.  The last remaining three are scheduled to leave the Gambia this Sunday adding to the headache of Jammeh and his APRC outgoing ruling party.  Unless miraculous happenings occur between now and next Tuesday when the Supreme Court is to convene, it will be difficult to see how Yaya Jammeh can pull the rabbit from the hat.