By Mariama Marong
Buba Sanyang, an erstwhile Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government and Lands Tuesday, 18 July 2023 appeared before a high court annex in Banjul to respond to the Judge.
His failure to appear before the court compelled the Judge, for the first time, to boycott presiding over criminal cases demanding Buba Sanyang’s appearance.
Justice Ademola Bakre boycotted hearing criminal cases demanding for the State to respect his orders in a land matter involving Bernd George Diedrich against the Gambia Government. Bernd won a land matter more than two (2) decades ago, but the Judgement has not been enforced.
Buba Sanyang, who has now been moved to the Office of the President as a permanent secretary, earlier informed the court that the Gambia Government was ready to compensate Bernd and provide him with some plots of land. He made a commitment before the court and was supposed to appear before the court to explain how the Government was going to do it. He failed to appear on the stated date and time. In this regard, the Judge suspended hearing on all criminal cases demanding respect for his orders.
Bernd is represented by Lawyer Sheriff Kumba Jobe while the State was represented by Lawyers Saikou Lamin Jobarteh and S. Jawara.
Buba Sanyang notified the court that the Government has already identified five plots of lands, which have been allocated to Bernd George Diedrich, noting that his lawyer (Jobe) has already confirmed the five plots of lands. He further indicated that the Ministry of Lands is ready to compensate him with other plots. He apologised to the court for not showing in time because he was in Mecca for pilgrimage( Hajj).
PS Sanyang further informed the court that he is the outgoing Permanent Secretary, adding that the current PS is one Saffie Sankareh-Farage, adding that his successor, Saffie has been informed about the matter.
Justice Bakre called on the lands ministry to complete the compensation processes. He asked that the Ministry makes the settlement before 24 July 2023.
“I want this case to be completed as soon as possible because is the applicant’s right to have back his property,” he said.
Justice Bakre passed an order directing Saffie Sankareh-Farage to appear before him along with Buba Sanyang on 24 July 2023 at 10 am. Wednesday, 12th July marked two weeks sit-down strike by the Judge. This protest came in the heels of Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow’s orders for all superior courts to hear criminal cases in July to expedite trials. The Gambian courts are faced with a lot of backlog of cases. The Chief Justice’s vision is to ensure cases are expedited. Justice Bakre’s court is one of the busiest courts in the Gambia.
The reason for the protest, according to the Judge, was a means of demanding respect of the order he passed in the matter.
“Unless the State obeys my order I will not sit for criminal matters,” he said.
Today, Wednesday, 19 July would have marked three weeks, but hopefully the Judge will commence hearing criminal cases henceforward.
The matter was adjourned to Monday, 24 July for a report on the settlement at 10 am.