Members of the Gambian community outside the Nigeria High Commission in London

(JollofNews) – The Gambian community in the United Kingdom have appealed to the Nigerian Government to call on its nationals working in the legal profession to recuse themselves from President Yahya Jammeh’s petition to the Supreme Court of the Gambia.

In a petition submitted to  Emmanuel Namah, chargés d’affaires at the Nigeria High Commission in London, and signed by Lamin Jammeh, the association said while it is aware of Nigeria’s efforts as a mediator to facilitate an amicable end to the political impasse in the Gambia, the use of some its judges, especially the current Chief Justice of the Gambia, Emmanuel Fagbenle, seems to be undermining the country’s own very good efforts to ensure that there is a smooth and peaceful transfer of power in Banjul.

We reproduced the full letter below:

We the Gambian community in the United Kingdom are writing to draw the attention of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to our deep concerns regarding the political impasse in The Gambia.

Your Excellency, please allow us to put the Gambian situation into perspective. On December 1 The Gambia conducted a presidential election in which the leader of the opposition coalition, Mr Adama Barrow, was declared winner. The outgoing president, Yahya Jammeh graciously accepted the outcome of the election by congratulating the president-elect, Mr. Adama Barrow.
Your Excellency, President Jammeh in his concession speech had called the December 1 election “rigged-proof” and recognised that he was the outgoing president and that Mr. Barrow was the duly elected president of The Gambia. President Jammeh said this to the people of The Gambia:

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Adama Barrow for his victory. It’s a clear victory. I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best. As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided”.
On the 9 December 2016, the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh annulled the election results to the surprise of Gambians and the International Community. He alleged that his own investigations and analysis of the results had uncovered voting irregularities. Even by his own analysis, president-elect Mr. Adama Barrow was still the winner of the election. Furthermore, outgoing President Jammeh had called for a fresh election even before filing a petition to the Supreme Court of The Gambia to look into the matter.

Nigerian born Emmanuel Fagbenle will hear Mr Jammeh’s petition

We feel that it is disingenuous on the part of outgoing President Jammeh to annul the election results by going back on his own words even before challenging the results in the Supreme Court of The Gambia.

To perpetuate himself in power, outgoing president Yahya Jammeh assembled some Nigerian lawyers purportedly from the African Bar Association to galvanise public opinion and to give legitimacy to his version of the political situation in The Gambia. At the time of annulling the election results, the Supreme Court of The Gambia was not fully constituted (as you may be aware) to hear appeal cases and the election petition. Outgoing President Jammeh has hastily appointed a panel of judges to hear his election petition at the Supreme Court of The Gambia to serve his own needs.

Your Excellency, we the Gambian community in the United Kingdom are concern that the interest of justice will not be served as the current Chief Justice of The Gambia, Emmanuel Fagbenle, has been seen to be openly supporting President Jammeh’s ruling A.P.R.C party. Also, the constituent members of the newly appointed Supreme Court judges are already undermined to do their job in a professional manner by outgoing President Jammeh who had recently appointed them for the sole purpose of hearing his election petition.

Your Excellency, we would like you to add your voice to the call by the Gambian people that the Nigerian lawyers and judges should recuse themselves from the election petition due to a potential conflict of interest as outgoing president Yahya Jammeh is an embodiment of judge, juror and executioner.    

Mr Jammeh is trying to cling on to power

Your Excellency, we are aware of your efforts as a mediator to facilitate an amicable end to the political impasse in The Gambia and we sincerely thank you for your efforts. However the use of some Nigerian Judges, especially the current Chief Justice of the Gambia, Emmanuel Fagbenle, seems to be undermining your own very good efforts to ensure that there is a smooth and peaceful transfer of power to president-elect, Adama Barrow, on 19 January 2017.

Your Excellency, we understand that if diplomatic efforts to convince outgoing president, Yahya Jammeh, to hand over power to president-elect, Adama Barrow fails; there will be a military action to force outgoing president Jammeh out of office. We the Gambians in the diaspora find this deeply disturbing, but accept it as a measure of last resort to ensure constitutional governance and democracy in The Gambia.

We would further like you to put a plan in place should outgoing president Jammeh be forced out of office militarily, as all too often the war is won and the peace is lost in countries where there have been military interventions in the recent past.

Your Excellency we sincerely hope that you would take our concerns seriously and share them with your counterparts in West Africa. We have every belief that you would prevail on the Nigerian citizens that outgoing president Jammeh is using to illegally legitimise and perpetuate himself in power. Please convey to the lawyers and the Chief Justice of the Gambia that they should serve the interest of The Gambia and not the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh.

We the Gambian community in the United Kingdom would like you to reiterate to outgoing president Yahya Jammeh that he should respect the will of the Gambian people as a true believer and Muslim. And that in the revered words of our national anthem, he should “let justice guide his actions towards the common good”.