The Gambia’s Solicitor General Cherno Marena has been fired, judicial sources confirmed. Marena, who works at the office of the Attorney General is the West African nation’s second highest justice department official. During the past five years at least two other solicitor generals were unceremoniously fired including a criminal defense attorney Lamin K Mboge who only held the office for less than 10 hours.
The Gambia’s justice department has come under sharp criticism for pressing charges against peaceful demonstrators and for not conducting an investigation into the use of excessive force by riot police who beat and shot at protesters killing at least three people including a senior opposition figure.
The country’s Justice Minister Mama Fatime Singhateh defended the action of the police telling the African Union they warned the protesters to disperse and that the police did all they can to contain the situation rightfully so.
Mass arrests within justice system
The justice ministry has seen some high profile arrests over the years including the prosecution of former Attorney General Momodou Lamin Jobarteh who has been accused of abusing office, corruption and destroying evidence after an audio tape of him and a former president of the appeals court Justice Joseph Wowo emerged implicating them in a bribery scandal.
No reasons given for firing of Marena
Reasons for the firing of Solicitor General Marena remain unknown. The Attorney General’s office has not made any official statements neither did the State House. No replacement is yet to be announced. The Gambia government is always known for giving laconic responses to firing of senior officials. The solicitor general is the highest representative of The Gambia government in court proceedings.
At least 3 chiefs fired.
Since 2013, at least three Chief Justices have been fired. Former Chief Justice Nawal Chohan said he resigned from his top judiciary job after government did not find it amusing when he overturned the conviction of two former military chiefs.
President Yahya Jammeh last summer pardoned more than 200 prisoners including coup plotters saying he is turning a new page in the history of the West African nation which will head to the polls in December. Jammeh who came to power in a coup is seeking a fifth term.