BREAKING NEWS: GAMBIAN APPEAL COURT JUDGE, WHO DOUBLES AS MARINA SCHOOL BOARD CHAIRPERSON, BRANDS LAWYER OMAR M’BAI AS A “DELINQUENT SON” AMID LAWYER M’BAI CALLS FOR AN AGM MEETING FOR MARINA HIGH SCHOOL!

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Judges around the world are expected to maintain high moral and ethical standards, but in The Gambia, there is this Appeal Court Judge Naceesay Salla Wadda, has decided to go to the gutters with one of her colleagues Lawyer Omar M’Bai, branding the lawyer as a “retired but certified rapper, break dancer, Michael Jackson wanna be (you still dress like Michael Jackson), delinquent son who by the grace of Allah was brought back to sense.”  Justice Salla Wadda, who also doubles as the Board Chairperson of Marina International High School, made the disturbing remarks in an email exchange with lawyer Omar M’Bai. Mr. M’Bai’s call for AGM meeting for the school doesn’t go down well with Board Chairperson Justice Salla Wadda.

Sources close to the judiciary said Lawyer M’Bai has filed a complaint with the Chief Justice Hassan B Jallow to inform him about Justice Salla Wadda’s inappropriate, and unethical conduct. The lawyer, according to sources, has felt being defamed by the Appeal Court Judge.

In an email dated May 1st 2021, and was copied to the Board members of the Marina school, Justice Salla Wadda, went off on Lawyer Omar M’Bai, by stating: “Again by your emails your vendetta and anger from August 2020 continues to manifest itself and you are happy that you now have the opportunity of a retaliation using an AGM. Unfortunately you have found the perfect person to deal with you as being intimidated or being short of words have never been my problem.”

Lawyer Omar M’Bai is a parent, his kids are attending Marina school. He was recently nominated into the Marina High School Board.

His call for an AGM meeting wasn’t well received by Justice Salla Wadda. The Appeal Court Judge said M’Bai should shut up and mind his business.

“Of course you did not know anything at all about the School because you are nothing but a drop off and pick up parent until I crossed your line last year. You have never had any sincere interest in the school where your kids are!!!! Absolutely none!!!!,” Justice Salla Wadda wrote.

“You have never even been of any help or surfaced at the School at a time that other lawyers who are not even parents of the school have come to assist. Yet you hypocritically talk of governance. I had told you that you cannot pull a wool over anyone’s eyes by your sham pretence,” she added.

In response lawyer Omar M’Bai remarked: “Mrs. Wadda,Thank you for your email. I have not been aware of any well pronounced governance related issues during the Chairmanship of your predecessors. The past Chairs were also not acrimonious at all, they demonstrated maturity, respect for all and very tolerant. I have had a respectful and cordial relationship with all the past chairs and board members since becoming a Marina parent as you rightly indicated in 2012. Not only with the past Chairs and board members but with all the teachers that I have come in contact with directly or indirectly as well security and cleaning staff. But you are surely entitled to your opinion.”

Indeed, she is entitled to her opinion. But Justice Salla Wadda is not backing down. Hear her: “Your comments about immaturity, tolerance etc are seriously taken with a pinch of salt as it is coming from none other than a retired but certified rapper, break dancer, Michael Jackson wanna be (you still dress like Michael Jackson), delinquent son who by the grace of Allah was brought back to sense.”

“Your disrespectful emails have only shown who you are; not fit to serve in any capacity; I will reserve your corrupt and influencing tendencies for later on,” she added.

In his email response, Lawyer M’Bai thinks that Justice Salla Wadda went too far branding him as a “ delinquent son.”

“If you as a Chairperson of a School Board can put in print that you are an arrogant person then that is and should be a cause for concern,” M’Bai wrote.

“I speak for myself as a parent and not for any other Marina parent. So like you I am also not aware of my election as a spokesperson for Marina parents. Again you are entitled to your views,” he added.

Interestingly, and shockingly, Justice Salla Wadda did not stop at branding lawyer M’Bai as a delinquent son, she also “prayed” her learned colleague for a fight.

“Now this forum is not for you to manifest your vendetta and anger at me and if you are truly a man, write to me personally or better still meet me face to face and that is when I will so deal with you that you will regret what you started!!!!,” she tersely wrote.  

“Since this battle is now personal between you and me, It does not concern colleagues. Write to me directly if you are man enough and you will  regret it!!!,” she added.

Justice Salla Wadda was fired from the bench during dictator Jammeh’s rule. She was fired because of the way she handled the Carnegie mineral case, judicial sources have intimated.

Justice Salla Wadda said M’Bai hasn’t been supportive to the school. She also questioned the motive behind M’Bai’s call for an AGM meeting.

“It is interesting that since you became a parent at the School 9 years ago in 2012 to be precise, it is only in 2021 that you all of a sudden and from nowhere became interested in the promotion of good governance and the call of an AGM!!!! Whilst you had indicated earlier that your career in governance spans over the last 15 years. Well 2021 is the year you had a sinister and devious motive,” she remarked.

“If you think you can pull a wool over people’s eyes in broad daylight and hide behind your sham excuse, it is most unfortunate,” she added.

Justice Salla Wadda has also accused lawyer M’Bai of meddling into issues that are outside his domain.

“I am also not aware that you were elected spokesperson for Marina parents. To my mind, they are and have always been articulate about airing their views. Your lectures on governance may perhaps be received at the UTG if they even will,” she said.

“Be rest assured that I am over 10 times your level of arrogance when you ask for it!,” she told lawyer M’Bai.

In his response lawyer M’Bai stated: “Mrs. Wadda, thank you for your prompt response. I am not exactly sure what proof you are talking about. But I will be interested to know.”

“Again this is not the language expected from a Chairperson of a School Board or any Board,” said lawyer M’Bai.

My attitude at any given period, said lawyer M’Bai “is always as consistent then as it is now. I will be most grateful if you can draw my attention to any inconsistencies in my attitude in August 2020 and my attitude in May 2021.”

“You have glaringly demonstrated your lack of regard, tolerance and respect for a parent simply putting across what he considers important to him. I may be the only parent who has approached the board but this unnecessary long pending AGM is on the lips of almost every parent and other stakeholders  included and it certainly does not tell well on the Board and in particular you as the Chair,” M’Bai posited.

Lawyer M’Bai argues that as a parent, he has the right to express his views as far as the school governance administration is concerned.

“Remember I am not writing to you personally I am writing as a parent to the school board of my children and as such have the requisite locus to write to the Board and ask questions,” he said.

He assured the Marina Board Chairperson that he has no agenda other than good governance.

“I surely do have an agenda and that agenda  is good governance. Whatever you throw at me is your opinion and I will respect it,” he noted.

“This will not be my last mail to the School Board I will continue writing as long as I have concerns and questions as expected from parents,” M’Bai added.

Justice Salla Wadda remains defiant. She wouldn’t “wanna” let got.

“Omar, it is glaringly obvious that you have an agenda and personal vendetta against me and that is certainly your problem and not mine. And this was very, very different from your attitude of August 2020. Remember that I have the proof.!!! So your views and ideas on governance are not genuine and are rather motivated by malice, hatred and spite!!!!!,” she wrote.

“It is sad and very unfortunate that you equate a School to a multinational entity. You cannot educate anybody and certainly not me on governance or any other matter.!!!! Anyway your views CERTAINLY ARE IRRELEVANT AND DO NOT MATTER TO ME GIVEN YOUR ATTITUDE!!!,” she added.

“This would be my last response to you on this subject!!!!,” she concluded.

In a follow up email, Lawyer M’Bai stated:

“Mrs. Wadda,

Thank you for your response. I noted that a better part of your mail is unfortunately confrontational and personal but I will respond to only a couple of issues.

  1. Nothing in my mail either directly or indirectly suggest holding a physical AGM. I held an AGM virtually last year and preparing one for next month also virtually so it will be irresponsible of me to suggest holding a physical meeting. That is your own conclusion not my suggestion.

 

  1. If you strongly believe that it is the fault of the parents that both AGMs got cancelled because of their lack of participation I think it will be fair if you formally communicate with them. I am sure parents will take a position on that. That should never be the language of a Chairperson. A Chair would want to find out why the lack of participation and fix it.

 

  1. A Chair should take full responsibility when things go wrong and certainly not fault those parents who elected her. So to say that the Board and Management have done their part and it is the parents who who should do their part is contemptuous.

 

  1. Parents have repeated at both meetings that 4pm on Thursday was NOT convenient at all and it is not. They were ignored. Instead Friday 4pm was preferred. This was not granted.

 

In my 15+ years of working with Chairmen and Chairpersons both here and abroad I have never come across one that used language as strong as yours to a parent, stakeholder or shareholder.”

In another email dated April 30th, Naceesay Salla – Wadda wrote:

“Good day Mr. Mbai,

We are all well thank you. Trust you are well too.

Your email refers. Thank you for same and for sharing your views on matters revolving around a pending AGM.

Indeed and firstly after the 2020 global pandemic that hit the whole world at the end of 2019 and for the whole of 2020, the School has been unable to hold an AGM. Infact there were arrangements that were being made in January 2020 for the holding of an in –  person AGM that was to be held in March of 2020 and this was around the time that the Government of The Gambia had directed the closure of all schools and Institutions of learning and had also banned public gatherings as well as a result of the pandemic. You will recall that this occurred around the 18th of March 2020 and as a result not only were all institutions of learning closed but the AGM also became frustrated and had to be cancelled. Let me also draw your attention to the fact that as at that time, the School under its dynamic and abled leadership was able to swiftly switch from in – person school to online learning with the limited resources we had. Let me further draw your attention to the fact that there was no budjet for online learning with all the unforeseen related expenditure that it came with. Equipment and internet facililities had to be procured for all the Staff and many other things as well as other incidentals to prevent or contain covid within the School premises.

Given this situation, arrangement could not thereafter be made by the School in 2020 for the holding of a virtual AGM for various reasons; their was a situation of lock down in the Country, the expenses it came with which could not be afforded and if we had to prioritize; the arrangements to have an online School version for our 1000 plus students, will, I am sure, you will agree, be the priority and which was what was done.

Having said this, the hosting of an AGM has never been far from the mind of the Board. Thus arrangement were put in place as soon as in-person school resumed at the end of October 2020 for the hosting of a virtual AGM in January this year and as you have rightly pointed out on your email, two AGMs had been called off due to lack of Quorum. It cannot be said that there was inadequate notice for the holding of the first virtual AGM for the notices had gone out since November 2020 and nominations to vacant positions made as well as all the other pre requisites for the hosting of the AGM also having been put in place. The second AGM was organized swiftly and within a week of the first AGM in compliance with the Regulations of the School and I must pause here to commend the Headmaster of the School for working outside his working hours and beyond to produce a Register of Parents which were shared with parents as he was tasked by the Board of Governors.

Having detailed out events as above, let me now advice that a strict adherence to governance principles will and only operate where both the Governing Board in place as well as the stakeholders are ready and willing to participate in the holding of an AGM or any other forum in this respect.

The Board of Governors had done its part on two separate occassions this year to hold an AGM with the entire Board and Management of the School in full attendance on both occasions, so what frustrated both events and led to its cancellation was not the lack of attendance of either the Board or the Management but the stakeholders. So in essence what deprived all stakeholders the opportunity to vote on matters that required to be voted on and for the opportunity to express their views and concerns was not occasioned by the Board or Management but the failure of the stakeholders to merely form a quorum and kick start the meetings in compliance with the Rules of Procedure that exists. I remind you that Governance is all inclusive and in fact the first principle of good corporate governance is being participatory. Where as in this case, the Governing Board has afforded an opportunity to stakeholders to participate and to be involved and same was not taken, I am certain that the blame for the result cannot be cast on the party that had fully and timeously participated on both occasions, in this case the Governing Board.

On your prompting of the Board to hold an AGM at a more favourable time and on a friday at 4 PM, let me remind you that there is a Presidential Directive that no public gathering shall hold as from the 8th of March 2021. To the best of my knowledge this is still in place and under my Chairmanship,  we will undertake to respect the Direct as long as it exists.

Furthermore if you are very familiar with the entire School Calendar, this is the time that is referred to as ” The Exam Season” which starts with the just ended primary and secondary checkpoint to the IGCSE/ AS/A2 Exams when almost 40 % of the student are engaged in a month long seaon of examinations and the School Hall is in use from April to Mid June annually. As you know, the entire Management and teaching staff are overly involved in the entire examination process. I am also sure that those parents that have their children taking one or more of these exams will also be too involved in assisting their children through this process. That apart the rest of the School are also preparing for their end of Year Exams. Thereafter after mid June, there are the Award ceremonies and Graduation ceremonies which are a very important part of the School Calendar. So this is not the time that discussions and arrangements can in all sincerity be made for an AGM.

However, be rest assured that the Board of Governors will communicate the holding of the next AGM when we deliberate on the issue and as soon as it is practicable to hold an in-person AGM.

Finally, we appreciate your commendations and assure you that we will always do our best to ensure that the School not only excels but also produces the World’s leaders of tomorrow.

Regards

The Hon. Justice Naceesay Salla – Wadda.

Chairperson of The Board of Governors.”

This is the email that angered Mrs. Salla Wadda, in which Lawyer M’Bai underscored the importance of an AGM meeting.  Reproduce below:

“Dear Esteemed Members of the Board of MIS,

I trust you are all well.
I have decided to reach out to you firstly as a parent and secondly as a person of interest in the promotion of the principles of good governance.
We have witnessed the postponement of two AGMs due solely to lack of a quorum. Both meetings were held virtually. This took place few months ago.
There has been no communication to parents since then.
Parents have proposed suggestions to hold the meeting at a more favorable day and time ie on a Friday at 4:00 p.m.
Strictly from a governance perspective a Board led by the Chairman should do everything possible to convene an AGM that was postponed as soon as possible.
You will all agree with me that an AGM is an important governance process for stakeholders of an organisation which process ensures transparency, provide updates and give members an opportunity to vote on a range of matters, express their views and concerns and asks questions.
This opportunity gives assurance to stakeholders ie parents and teachers that the board members are representing the best interest of the students.
For this reason I urge you as a board to communicate with parents about the pending AGM.
 I urge you further to use best endeavors and agree on a day to hold the AGM at a date and time  most convenient to the majority of stakeholders. This is very important strictly from a good governance perspective.
Putting an AGM on hold for this long goes against all the principles of good governance which presupposes a system of checks and balances.
Let me take this opportunity to thank you all for the good and had work you are and have been putting in the school for the best interest of our children.
Respectfully submitted.
Best regards,
Omar F. M’Bai.”

The Marina Board members haven’t commented on Justice Naceesay Salla – Wadda’s inappropriate statements against her learned colleague Omar M’Bai. It is being treated as an internal affair, though some Board Members were stunned by the judge’s outrageous emails.

Sources close to judiciary have intimated that no disciplinary has so far been taken against Justice Naceesay Salla – Wadda. She hasn’t been reprimanded.

Both Lawyer Justice Naceesay Salla – Wadda and lawyer Omar M’Bai could not be reached for comment.

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