By Binta A Bah
A high court judge has questioned the Ministry of Justice for disobeying an order he made last November declaring the arrest and detention of Nenneh Freda Gomez and two others unlawful and constitutional.
In that order, Justice B.A Bakre had also ordered the state to pay compensation of D100,000 to Gomez, her colleague Lamin Sey and a Fatu Network cameraman.
Yesterday, the judge in an angry tone addressed the state counsel, K. Tah stating he was not happy with the justice ministry, reminding him that the ‘world is watching.’
“My anger is that I gave an order and it has not been obeyed and you want to seek benefit from me,” Justice Bakre told the state counsel.
“You people should do the right things at the Ministry of Justice because the world is watching. This country is just experiencing a nursing democracy, so you should not be the ones that would put it in jeopardy. It’s fragile. Even if you are right, make your position abundantly clear for everybody to understand you. When you have an order against, you take your internal procedure to obey the order,” the judge told the state counsel.
When the state counsel argued that he was not seeking benefits from the court, the judge said: “But you want me to listen to you now and give you points. You (the state) always come to court seeking for orders for arrests and detentions. Now the same judge makes an order, and you will not obey, who are you?”.
Justice Bakre continued: “Has the state shown their own right to that land over theirs particularly in view of all these judgments? The state did not also appeal against the decision. So, what is this force the state is using?”. The judge pointed out that there is this ‘unnecessary arrogance’ by the state all over Africa that they are one step ahead of others.
“Assuming that it was you Tah (counsel for the state) contesting, you are the owner of that land, is it right for you to continue to say get out of my land when you don’t have anything in your favour?” he asked, adding that unless things are done in the right way, there will be total breakdown of law and order.
However, state counsel Tah argued that there is an issue of basic personality where the registrar general or custodian of leasing at the ministry of lands can request for the striking out of lease where it found that the lease has been illegally issued.