32.2 C
City of Banjul
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dear Hon. Justice Sallah-Wadda,

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Re: Triple congratulations dear learned sister

Firstly, let me warmly congratulate you, for the wise decision of His Excellency President Adama Barrow’s government, (as contained in the long-awaited Government White Paper), for you to be officially reinstated, instead of merely being reappointed, as an Honourable Judge of the Court of Appeal. It would be recalled, that during the era of the previous Gambia Government, appellants were jointly charged in the High Court, for the heinous criminal offence of “UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY”, in contravention of the Public Order Act (1963), about 20 of them. This was “an interlocutory appeal”, (i.e. the appellants were appealing to The Court of Appeal, whether or not they should be granted bail? while the substantive prosecution, that was then going on in The High Court, was temporarily put on hold, pending the outcome of their appeals, to The Court of Appeal. An Official meeting was held, at the Chambers of the then President of the Court of Appeal, to discuss this important matter. At this meeting, you rightly expressed your legal opinion, that The Court of Appeal, should consider granting bail to the multiple appellants, because the criminal offence of “UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY”, was indeed a bailable offence. Unfortunately, after expressing your honest and legally right opinion on this matter, you were served with an official letter, terminating your services, as a then Court of Appeal Judge. This was a very unfortunate incident, and to say the least, it was indeed a monumental and totally unacceptable miscarriage or travesty of justice. The very fact that, the ruling NPP Government, of His Excellency President Adama Barrow, has rightly decided to fully accept the TRRC’s official recommendation on this important matter, was indeed a bold step in the right direction, and this brings surfacing to the landscape of my mind, the wise and very inspirational words, of Honourable Chief Justice Hewart of the U.K, who once authoritatively said:-“ That Justice must not only be done, but it must manifestly and undoubtedly, be seen to be done”. This correct decision, will automatically trigger down to the calculation of your retirement benefits (your gratuity and your pension).

You ought not to have been sacked unfairly, because according to the rules of the Court of Appeal, the three appellate judges, which sit in an appeal’s panel, are not bound to have the same legal opinion, on any case on appeal before them. Two of the learned judges, may have the same legal opinion on a matter, and this will be the lead judgement of the Court, while the third learned judge is legally and professionally entitled, to have his/her dissenting legal opinion or judgement. It is not a legal requirement, that all three of the appellate judges, must have “consensus ad idem” (Latin i.e., a meeting or convergence of minds), among the three of them. They are not judicial robots.

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My second reason for warmly congratulating you Hon. Justice Na Sisay Sallah-Wadda. I invite reference, to a very interesting and eye – catching article titled: – “JUSTICE NA CEESAY SALLAH – WADDA TAKES OATH AS APPEAL COURT PRESIDENT”, that was duly published in the Thursday 2nd June 2022 publication, of the widely-read The Standard Newspaper, that was ably written by Tabora Bojang. Paragraph 5 of Tabora Bojang’s article reads: “Speaking at the swearing in ceremony at the Presidency yesterday afternoon, President Barrow said, he has trust and confidence that the appointment of Justice Na Sisay Sallah Wadda, will contribute “extensively to the effective and speedy dispensation of justice, as well as boost the moral and professional standing of the Judiciary “. His Excellency President Adama Barrow, rightly went on to say:- ” Public confidence in the judiciary, as the last resort for justice, grows when we have the right caliber of judges presiding over the Courts. I am optimistic that, with the quality of judges in our Superior Courts, the judiciary will continue to uphold the doctrines of their noble profession, by acting with honesty, independence, impartiality, and integrity in the discharge of their duties.”

Paragraphs 7 and 8 respectively read:- “The President also sworn in Justice Omar Njie, as a judge of The Supreme Court. His elevation now raises the number of Gambians at The Supreme Court, to six under the Barrow administration”. “There is no doubt that we have delivered on our promise to Gambianize the judiciary, which is the only way to minimize our dependence, on external judges for the operation of our judiciary,” President Barrow said. I concur “In toto ab initio” (Latin i.e., altogether from the beginning), with these warm and highly patriotic words, of His Excellency President Adama Barrow, who constitutionally speaking, for all intents and purposes, is indeed “The Fountain– Head of Justice “, as far as The Gambia is concerned. The quasi- Judicial powers of His Excellency the President of The Gambia, notwithstanding the doctrine of “Separation of Powers”, are clearly encapsulated, in Section 25 (1) (F) of The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution, which explicitly says: – “Every person shall have the right to (F) Freedom to petition the Executive for redress of grievances and to resort to the Courts, for the protection of his or her rights.” My cordial and long-standing association, with the Honourable MR Justice Omar Njie, started in earnest around 1992 / 1993, when I was about to end my four- year University of London LLB (Hons) Degree Course, at Buckland University College in Oxford, as a self-sponsored undergraduate law student.  ”Quic quid plantatur solo solo cedit” (Latin ie what is attached to the land, is part of the land, or it goes with the land). I was then staying at The Commonwealth House, with several Commonwealth University students, from all over the world. The aforesaid House, was situated at Pembroke Street in Oxford, and MR Omar Njie’s (as he then was) intelligent nephews, were also staying in the same House. By then MR Omar Njie had completed his university studies in law, and he was then attending The Inns of Court, with a view to achieving his Barrister- At -law- B.L. qualification, for him to be eligible to be called to The Bar of England and Wales, in one of the four Inns 0f Courts, namely: – Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, The Inner Temple and The Middle Temple. My late beloved paternal granduncle, Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, a Fellow of Merton College of Oxford University, in 1939, was called to The Bar of England and Wales, at the Honourable Society of The Middle Temple. For more about him, let me quickly refer readers to ”Black Oxford: The Untold Stories of Oxford University Black Scholars”, that was published in The U.K., on 23rd October 2013, by DR. Pamela Roberts, a black American medical doctor and professor. In fact, a black and white photo of Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, was published on the cover of the aforesaid book, together with the photos of other black Oxford University Scholars, from all over the world. I bought a copy of this great book, from Timbooktoo Bookshop. The late Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, was a Member of The Legislative Council, during the colonial era, the equivalent of today’s National Assembly or Parliament. The Honourable Mr Wilfred Davidson Carrol, in 1939 single-handedly drafted The Gambia Criminal Code, which up till today The Gambia’s Legal Fraternity and all Law enforcement officers (including The Gambia Police Force), are still using ”Mutatis, Mutandis” (Latin ie with the necessary changes and amendments). When MR Omar Njie’s nephews travelled by train from Oxford to London during weekends, to visit him, he was terribly flabbergasted when he heard them quoting Latin maxims with glee, and when he curiously asked them: – “You interesting nephews, where on earth have you been studying Latin?”, and their reply to him was:- “we are staying in Commonwealth House in Oxford, with one Lawyer Henry Carrol to be, a Gambian Citizen, who always teaches us Latin maxims”, and their favorite one was: – “Delegatus Non Potest Delegare”( i.e. a delegated power, cannot be sub- delegated ). By then Mrs Rougie Thomasi; (then called Ms Rougie Bah), now the able Director General of The Gambia Law School and a fellow Solicitor General Emeritus, was by then studying Law at Buckingham University, and she would habitually travel by train to Oxford, and we would all enjoy ourselves as a happy Gambian family. Her younger brother, Mr Muhammed Bah, was also studying in Oxford, and he also coincidentally stayed, in the same Commonwealth House, and our very kind and hospitable Warden was, British – born MR Michael Mowatt. On Friday 3rd June 2022, when I warmly phoned Honourable MR Justice Omar Njie, to inter alia warmly congratulate him, for his well-deserved professional promotion, by His Excellency President Adama Barrow, from being The President Of The Court Of Appeal, to be Officially elevated as a Supreme Court Judge, he emphatically reminded me, not to forget to mention, in my congratulatory letter to Honourable Justice Na Sisay Sallah Wadda, how he hilariously heard about me from his nephews, well before he actually met me in person.

The third important reason, for me writing you this important congratulatory letter is as follows: – during my laconic phone call to you on Thursday 2nd June 2022, you confirmed to me, that you are the present Chairperson of The National Council for Law Reporting (N.C.L.R). This is a Statutory body, whose official mandate, as far as The NCLR Act is concerned, is to collect Judgements from the three Superior Gambian Courts (I.e., The High Court, The Court of Appeal and The Gambia Supreme Court), and then publish The Gambia Law Reports. According to the N.C.L.R Act, The Chairman of The Law Reform Commission, is a Statutory Member of The N.C.L.R , that was why for many years, my name among others, appeared in the front pages of The Gambia Law Reports, which we published over the years, with diligence and unquestionable patriotism. Your immediate predecessor was, Honourable Justice Omar Njie. But during the time of my prolonged six – months hospitalization, the Honourable Ms Justice Awa Bah, the then able President of The Court of Appeal, now deservedly promoted as a Supreme Court Judge, was the then able Chairperson of The N.C.L.R . The other members were:- Mrs Janet Sallah – Njie (a Solicitor General Emeritus like my humble self), Mrs Rachael Mendy, Ms Fatou Penn (one of my former U.T.G L.L.B. Degree law students) and MR Lamin George, the then Honourable Master Of The High Court. I am indeed very grateful, to all these N.C.L.R members, because when I was sick, they sent me a get-well card, which they all signed, and they were magnanimous enough, to send me some money, as their financial contribution, towards my medical bills. “A friend in need, is a friend indeed”, as the famous adage goes. I am very grateful to Honourable Ms Justice Awa Bah, your Judicial colleague, for kindly giving me your telephone number. I was also very touched, when you told me, during our laconic conversation, that when I was sick, you were trying to call me on my Gamcel number but to no avail. This was a classic example of ” Telepathy ” (ie corresponding thoughts, between two independent minds). 

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The present members of the N.C.L.R, under your able Chairpersonship are: – Honourable Justice Zainab Jawara-Alami, (Vice Chairperson), Mrs Racheal Mendy, Ms Fatou Penn and Mrs Janet Sallah – Njie . With this good professional team behind you, I am conceptually and evidentially certain, that you will indeed deliver as expected. “Those to whom much is given, much is expected”, as the famous adage goes. You are indeed ”Primus Inter Pares” (Latin ie the first among equals), among all the present N.C.L.R Members. I am also very grateful to MR Emuran Sawo, the Senior Admin and Finance Officer of N.C.L.R , for helping me immensely, with my detailed research, on this matter of paramount importance.

During our aforesaid laconic conversation, you asked me to send your warm and fraternal greetings, to my learned brother, Mr Wilfred Bola Carrol. On my way to deliver my U.T.G Law lecture last week Thursday, I passed by his office, and told both his Secretary, Ms Maget and his Legal Clerk Mr Mouctar, to kindly pass on your warm salutations to him.

Finally, it would be recalled, that during your stint at The Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Justice, I think by then you were a Principal State Counsel and I was The Registrar of Companies, your good self, Nigerian-born Mr. Akomaye Agim, the then D.P.P. and DR Henry D.R. Carrol, co- authored a masterpiece Criminal Law book titled: – “PRE-TRIAL CRIMINAL PROCEDURE IN COMMONWEALTH WEST AFRICA- THE GAMBIA EXPERIENCE”.  According to the Monday 23rd May 2022 publication of the widely-read The Standard Newspaper, it was inter alia authoritatively reported, that Honourable Mr. Justice Akomaye Agim, a former Honourable Lord Chief Justice of The Gambia, is now a Supreme Court Judge in Nigeria. Mr Agim (as he then was) , worked briefly under me as The D.P.P. , when I was the substantive Solicitor General and Legal Secretary (ie The Deputy Chief Legal Adviser of The Gambia Government, from 2007 to 2009), before he eventually crossed over to The Gambian Judiciary, to be deservedly promoted as the Honourable President of The Court of Appeal. I would indeed be very grateful, if you can kindly use your good office to get his consent, so that more copies of the aforesaid Criminal Law book, will be reproduced in The Gambia, because The U.T.G. LLB Degree Students, want copies of them very badly. I have no objection whatsoever. I am also very sure, you also as a co-author, will not have any objection whatsoever, for the implementation of this noble academic project. I have already spoken on the phone, to Mr Jagne, the able proprietor of Timbooktoo Bookshop, concerning this important academic project. Talking about the God-given skills of book writing, let me terminate this epistle of mine, by appropriately quoting the famous quotation of the late and erudite Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great American Philosopher and Lecturer, who authoritatively once wrote :- ”……. If a man can write a better book, or preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse trap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will still make a beaten path to his door.” The late Rev Doctor Martin Luther King, the famous black American Civic Rights Activist, in his famous ”I have a dream” speech, eloquently quoted the aforesaid powerful quotation of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Mr Sheriff Tambedou, and ex-President of Gambia Bar Association (G.B.A), who in January 2017 sworn into office, His Excellency the President-Elect (Then Honourable Mr Adama Barrow) at The Gambia Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, after his great and clean victory at the 1st December 2016 Presidential Election, also started his University studies in Law, at the aforesaid Buckland University College in Oxford. We both have the same alma matter, and he was about 2 years my senior. My learned senior, made a monumental Legal/Constitutional error at the aforesaid ceremony. Section 63 (1) of The Gambia’s 1997 Constitution inter-alia reads :- ”The term of office of an elected President shall be a term of 5 years and the person elected President shall before assuming Office take the prescribed Oaths.” Generally, in Law when ”Shall” is used, this means that the obligation is mandatory, but when ”May” is used, this means that the obligation is discretionary. At the aforesaid ceremony Mr Sheriff Tambedou, only administered 1 Oath instead of 3. Although the aforesaid Constitution, has not defined ”prescribe Oaths”, nonetheless The Oaths Act Of 1965, authoritatively says, ”Prescribe Oaths” means:- Oath of Office, Oath of Allegiance, and Oath of Secrecy. On the 1st February 2017 publication of the widely-read The Standard Newspaper, I published a Legal article, calling for a repeat of the aforesaid ceremony because of the aforesaid error. On 18 February 2017, the aforesaid ceremony was repeated at the Independence Stadium in Bakau (ie during the 52nd anniversary of The Gambia’s Independence) and the learned Honourable Lord Chief Justice, Hassan B. Jallow (C.R.G.), rightly administered all 3 of the aforesaid Oaths, for His Excellency President Adama Barrow. Gambia’s legal fraternity, the consular and diplomatic Corps, Senior government and public servants, were all in attendance, amidst pomp and pageantry.

 I thank God I was well enough to attend this great Legal and Constitutional Ceremony, dressed in majestic legal regalia. I was seated next to my very learned and friendly legal colleague, Mr Antouman AB Gaye, who has a nice bushy grey hair, which is replica of a lawyer’s wig. Because of his longevity at the Bar, most judges allow Mr Gaye to address them, without wearing a lawyer’s wig, he is a born lawyer. “Equity regards as done, that which ought, to have been done.”

”Dum Spero Spiero” (Latin ie while I live, I hope).

Yours in The Rule of Law, (Sgd) DR. Henry D.R. Carrol (M.R.G), Senior Oxford – Trained Lawyer (from 1994 to Date), Solicitor General Emeritus of The Gambia (from 2007 to 2009) and Founder Adjunct U.T.G Law Lecturer (from 2007 to Date) Cc Hon Ms. Justice Awa Bah, Supreme Court Judge.

Cc Hon Justice Omar Njie, Supreme Court Judge.

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