By Louise Jobe
Litigants with cases at the Brikama Magistrate Court have decried to this reporter that their cases cannot proceed due to lack of Magistrates at the said court. They complained of delay in the proceedings of their cases due to a void caused by the transfer of two Magistrates to other jurisdictions, without effecting replacements in their respective positions.
Magistrate Peter Adoh Che is said to have been transferred to Bansang Magistrates Court while Principal Magistrate Isatou Darboe, has been appointed Director of NATIP without any replacement yet at her position.
Litigants in some of the pending cases which were handled by the transferred Magistrate Court told this reporter that they have always been coming to court for the continuation of their cases only for them to receive adjournments because there was no Magistrate to handle their cases.
This reporter further enquired from a security officer attached to the Brikama Magistrate Court to confirm the situation regarding the void caused by the transfer of the two Magistrates to other jurisdiction and he responded that successors have been identified but were yet to come to work and hopes that the problem would be solved soon.
This reporter’s observations also showed that there is a high burden on the shoulders of the remaining three Magistrates in handling all the cases at the Brikama Court.
“I have a land dispute case ongoing here at the Brikama Magistrate Court and I have been coming in and out on three occasions, only to be told that there is no Magistrate to proceed with my case. I have always been given adjournment dates and I hope that the Ministry may soon effect a Magistrate to replace those who have been transferred to handle our cases,” one litigant frustratingly complained to this reporter.
This reporter tried to meet the Court Registrar for her comments on the situation at Brikama Magistrate Court but could not reach her because she was unwell to come to work.
For the information of the reader, the Gambian Constitution provides for the right to fair hearing and speedy trial, but Litigants at the Magistrate Court in Brikama continue to complain that they pay fares to come to court only to be told there are no Magistrates to hear their cases. While there are cases that are at crucial stages including judgment, litigants to these cases indicate their concern about how soon their cases will come to an end.