The Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh’s decision to ignore a call to hand over power peacefully by the Economic Community of West African Communities was following in the footsteps of other presidents within the region, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has said.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Falana said Nigeria’s Muhammmadu Buhari and Ghana’s former president, John Mahama, lack the moral right to ask Mr. Jammeh to hand over because they ignored rulings handed down by the ECOWAS court last year.
Mr. Jammeh, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994, suffered a surprise defeat in the hands of Adama Barrow in the December 1presidential election. After initially accepting defeat, the incumbent Gambian president, who had ruled the country with an iron fist, reversed his position and called for fresh election.
The ECOWAS in an emergency meeting in Abuja last month set up a Mediation Team co-chaired by Messrs Buhari and Mahama to ensure a hitch free political transition programme in The Gambia. But Mr. Jammeh has sworn not to hand over power or quit office.
Although ECOWAS is deliberating deploying troops to force Mr. Jammeh out of office if he clings to power beyond January 19, 2016, the head of the regional body, Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told journalists on Saturday that they would continue to pursue a peaceful mediation and transfer of power.
“While urging President Jammeh to hand over power peacefully and allow the Supreme Court of The Gambia to determine his election petition in line with the rule of law we call on both Nigeria and Ghana to also respect the rule of law by complying with the judgments handed down last year by the Community Court of Justice which indicted them for the abuse of the human rights of two community citizens,” said Mr. Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
“In the case of Obioma Ogukwe v Republic of Ghana the Ecowas Court ordered the defendant to pay the sum of $250,000 to the plaintiff as reparation over the failure to investigate and bring to book those who caused the death of his 15-year old son by drowning on October 15, 2013, at Tema, in Ghana.
“The judgment which was delivered on June 17, 2016, was disobeyed by the Mahama administration without any justification.
“In the case of Col Sambo Dasuki v Federal Republic of Nigeria the Ecowas Court ordered the defendant to admit the plaintiff to bail pending the determination of the criminal cases pending against him at the federal high court and the federal capital territory high court.
“As the federal government could not justify the prolonged detention of the criminal suspect the court awarded N15 million damages in his favour. Since the judgment was delivered on October 4, 2016, the Buhari administration has not adduced any reason for treating it with contempt.”
According to Mr. Falana, since it is public knowledge that both Nigeria and Ghana are in contempt of valid and subsisting judgments of the ECOWAS Court, President Jammeh would justify his disdain for the rule of law by questioning the moral integrity of the leaders of the two nations to enforce a resolution of the body on democracy in The Gambia.
“To avoid such avoidable embarrassment I am compelled to call on President Buhari of Nigeria and President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana to ensure that they purge their countries of the contempt of the juridical organ of the Ecowas without any further delay,” said Mr. Falana.