By Bekai Njie
The three Nigerian judges, Martins U. Okoi, Edward E. Ogar and Simeon A. Abi could not have their contracts renewed after their expiration on March 20, 2018, according to judicial sources.
The three judges, Martins U. Okoi of Kanifing High Court, Justice Simeon A. Abi of Banjul Annex High Court and also presiding judge at Basse High Court, and Justice Edward E. Ogar of Brikama High Court have since March 24, 2018 completed their handing over after the expiration of their contracts.
Sources disclosed that prior to the expiration of their contracts, a meeting was convened on Jan. 25, 2018 at the Chief Justice Chambers and they were informed of the move by the Judicial Service Commission of not renewing their contracts at the expiration on March 20, 2018.
Sources further disclosed that on Feb. 5, a memo was given to the judicial officers reminding them of the position of the Judicial Service Commission, reaffirming its position of not renewing their contract after the expiration.
It could be recalled that the three judges were among the four Judges who were subject of legal wrangling last year when the Judicial Service Commission, the attorney general and Minister of Justice were dragged before the High Court presided over by Justice Amina Saho-Ceesay by the Gambia Bar Association over the association’s claim that their appointments were unconstitutional.
Sources confirmed that Justice Ogar’s initial contract appointment letter in 2016 stated that the contract was for a period of one year subject to renewal for a further two years.
However, at the expiration of the said contract, Justice Ogar, like Justices Okoi and Abi was given only a year renewal contrary to his (Justice Ogar’s) initial contract appointment letter.
It could also be recalled that Justice Martins Okoi arrived in The Gambia in 2008 as a Technical Assistant under the Bilateral Cooperation Agreement between the government of The Gambia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Technical Assistance to the Justice Sector of The Gambia.
Until his appointment as a judge of the High Court in 2014, Justice Martins Okoi was the Director of Civil Litigation/International Law at the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Justice Simeon A. Abi arrived in The Gambia in 2010 having been appointed deputy Director of Special Litigation. He was later posted as deputy director, Civil Litigation and International Law from which position he left in June 2014 and was subsequently appointed as High Court Judge in October 2014.
Justice Edward E. Ogar arrived in The Gambia in January 2016 having been appointed as judge from Nigeria where he was in active legal practice. Before coming to The Gambia, Justice Edward E. Ogar had served in Uganda under the Nigeria Technical Aid scheme.
Having rounded up their respective handing over, it is expected that the three judges will return to their various jobs in Nigeria as soon as judiciary administration finalise their disengagement process.