As Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) members are bracing up for their 56th Annual General Conference to be held from 19-26 August 2016, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, two judgements passed in Gambian courts by two Nigerian judges are expected to overshadow an event dubbed as the largest gathering of legal practitioners on African soil. These controversial decisions sentencing Gambian opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and dozens of his supporters to a 3-year jail term each were met with mixed reactions at NBA.
NBA President Augustine Alegeh said in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI) that he was disturbed by the judgement handed out last Wednesday by Justice Eunice Dada against lawyer Ousainou Darboe of the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) and party members. But he is yet to respond to questions directed to him by this reporter regarding the role of Nigerian judges and their collusion with the Jammeh regime.
Veteran human rights advocate Femi Falana who spoke to West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) Sheriff Bojang Jnr condemned the judgement and promised to take the matter up with the Nigerian government. He described the ruling as ‘very backward, barbaric and undemocratic’
A former President of West African BAR Association, Advocate Falana recalled that the right to convene peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Constitution. “We therefore do not expect Nigerian judges or Nigerian lawyers to export dictatorship to any country’, he told WADR.
Throwing his weight behind the Nigerian judges in Gambia, ilugo Victory, who is a barrister and solicitor for the Supreme Court of Nigeria stated that Nigerian judges epitomize the highest level of integrity and courage.
“The facts presented by the prosecution must have been damning against those convicted. Thus the Nigerian had no choice,” he told this reporter during an exclusive interview.
He further reechoed a Nigerian adage indicating that in the country that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. “Because Nigerian judges will always ensure that justice is served.”
Written by Abdoulie JOHN