A Nigerian judge, Joseph Wowo, has been sacked from the Gambian judiciary for asking for a N2.3million bribe from a Gambian-based Dutch businessman in order to give him a favorable judgment in a land dispute case.
Delta State-born Wowo, who was a former President of the Gambian Court of Appeal, was caught on tape holding a secret meeting with the former Gambian Justice Minister, Lamin Jobarteh (who has also been sacked), a Dutch national, André Klaarbergen, and his Nigerian lawyer simply identified as Mene, negotiating a price to subverting the judgment of a Gambian High Court over a land dispute case, which Mr. Wowo agrees the Dutch rightly lost.
The tape, which has now been posted on internet video site, Youtube, has Wowo saying, “How much are you willing to offer first so that we can negotiate. You know my position; based on my position I’m not even supposed to come here in the first place. I’m the President of the Court of Appeal and now I’m acting Chief Justice,” he continued, openly admitting he was sabotaging the course of justice by even agreeing to be at the meeting.
“I’ve read your file at the Court of Appeal, (and) that is why I said you don’t have any case at the Court of Appeal. You will lose at the Court of Appeal because the way they deal with the case at the Court of Appeal, the lawyer messed it up. That is why I called your lawyer and said let us see how we can help you,” confirming that the lower court had made the right call in the case.
Jobarteh then cut in and suggested a quick resolution of the matter.
“The fact of the matter is that the error has been made and it’s irrecoverable. The issue now is how we can meet each other to correct the problem,” he said.
Wowo then demanded a bribe of 2.5 million Dalasi (N12.3 million) but Mr Klaarbergen, who complained that his business had been slow lately, offered to pay 500,000 Dalasi.
The disgraced attorney-general, with a tone of threat, then appealed to Wowo to accept the bribe.
“Come a time you people will come running to me and in view of all other consideration and the man’s financial predicament now, I appeal to you to accept the 500,000,” he said.
“Because of Justice Jobarteh, honourable minister, that is why I’m accepting,” Mr Wowo replied.
Even when the Dutch businessman expressed some reluctance and suggested talking to his partner, Justice Wowo asked him to “go and borrow” if he could not raise the agreed bribe.
Fearing prosecution, Mr Wowo is feared to have fled the Gambia furtively. His whereabouts is currently unknown, and he did not respond to series of calls to his Gambian mobile telephone.