No Ending To Ex—Gambian Chief Justice’s Troubles

(JollofNews) – As if being sacked as the acting Chief Justice of the Gambia is not enough, Joseph Wowo is facing the prospect of being investigated and prosecuted for corruption by the Nigerian anti-corruption commission.

The Nigerian born judge was last Monday sent packing from his office by President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia after he was allegedly caught on tape negotiating for half a million Dalasi bribe from a Gambian—based Dutch businessman over a land dispute case.

The bribery allegations have angered the Nigerian Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), which has petitioned Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) to launch an investigation into the judge’s conduct.

Olarenwaju Suraju, chairman of the civil rights group, accused Mr. Wowo of exporting corruption to the Gambia and causing unimaginable shame and embarrassment to the image of Nigeria.
Joseph WowoJoseph Wowo, taking his oath of office in the Gambia
“Acts of gross misconduct such as exhibited by Mr. Joseph Wowo who ought to be a person of integrity and respectability, representing a good image for Nigeria, rather, he has exported corruption to the Gambia. Though Mr. Joseph Wowo has been unceremoniously dismissed, the embarrassment caused to Nigeria by this shameful act is unimaginable,” Mr. Suraju wrote in the petition published by the Nigerian Premium Times Newspaper.

He called on the anti-corruption body to investigate the matter as enshrined in the provisions of Section 13 of the ICPC Act, which states that: “Any person who receives anything which has been obtained by means of an act constituting a felony or misdemeanor, or by means of any act done at a place outside Nigeria would have constituted a felony or misdemeanor and which is an offense under the laws in force in the place where it was done, knowing the same to have been so obtained, is guilty of a felony”.

Mr. Suraju urged the ICPC to use its local and international networks to bring Mr. Wowo to justice and send a strong warning to Nigerians living outside their country that acts of illegality will not be tolerated, whether committed locally or outside Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wowo, who was a former president of the Gambia’s Court of Appeal, has not been seen in public since he was removed from his post. There are unconfirmed reports that he was arrested by state security officers and is currently detained at the National Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Banjul.

Joseph Wowo joined the Gambia’s Justice Ministry in 1998 as a principal state counsel and deputy head of the civil division. He was lead counsel in the famous commission of inquiry that was set up to investigate the cause of the April 2010 student demonstration which resulted in the death of over 12 demonstrators and the destructions of public and private properties.

He left for further studies in the US in 2001 but later returned to the Gambia at the end of his studies to become a high court judge in 2007. He was elevated to the Gambia Court of Appeal as a judge before being appointed president of the said court in November 2010 by President Yahya Jammeh.