The Gambia's outgoing president Yahya Jammeh might be "using Nigerian lawyers" to validate his claim that a recent presidential election was affected by abnormalities, the Gambian Bar Association (GBA) has warned. Jammeh, who has been in power since 1994, lost to Adama Barrow of the United Democratic Party (UDP) opposition party during presidential election held on 1 December.
Barrow, a former businessman who worked as a security guard at an Argos store in London, was appointed as the head of a coalition of opposition parties earlier this year.
Jammeh originally conceded defeat, but he later claimed he intended to contest the outcome of the vote at the Supreme Court due to "unacceptable abnormalities".
The country currently has no sitting judges at the Supreme Court, with the opposition coalition claiming Jammeh has no longer constitutional authority to name new judges to hear his petition.
However, a statement published by GBA and appeared on Sahara Reporters website alleged Nigerian-born Emmanuel Fagbenle, Gambia's Chief of Justice, "would take steps to extend the illegal regime of Jammeh."
"There is a total breakdown of the rule of law and the Chief Justice has been known to carry executive directives in matters of the state interest," GBA said.
"It is clear that Jammeh did not expect to lose the election and did not deem it fit to have a sitting permanent Supreme Court. This has inured to his benefit for the last two years during which several cases have sat unheard by a Supreme Court. Case in point is the appeal by the United Democratic party against the conviction of its party leaders," the association continued.
The statement went on naming seven other Nigeria judges of the high court, all appointed in 2016.
"These persons have never been judges or sat in a judicial capacity. They were imported and appointed and have demonstrated in several high-profile judgments that they will not take any steps contrary to the will of the President," continued GBA, adding it would bring this issue to the attention of the Nigerian government.
The spokesperson of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has not responded to a request for a comment. However, Buhari and other West African leaders are scheduled to fly to Gambia on 13 December to persuade Jammeh to step down.
Both the Gambia's opposition coalition and president-elect Barrow have urged Jammeh to step down and accept the election result.
Jammeh's U-turn has created a climate of fear in Gambia, where people widely celebrated Barrow's election hoping it could end decades of alleged persecutions and human rights abuses.