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Dpp African Lawyers Can’T Work In Courts

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

TWO Africans hired to top positions at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have been denied admission to the Bahamian Bar, preventing them from arguing cases in court.

Bar Association President Khalil Parker said the Bar Council was not satisfied they met legal requirements for admission to the Bar.

For six months, Nigerian Nikiruka Jones-Nebo and Ugandan David Bakibinga have respectively served as deputy director of public prosecutions and assistant director of public prosecutions but they have not represented the government in court like expected of the roles. 

Some lawyers, upset about the hires, felt local lawyers should have filled the positions. 

The Tribune understands that last week Thursday the Bar Council determined the applicants did not have the certifications for the Bar that are specified in the first schedule of the Legal Profession Act. The provision specifies which countries’ legal certifications are recognised in the Bahamas. It is understood that Mrs Jones-Nebo and Mr Bakibinga did not have certificates from recognised countries and, alternatively, did not have a legal education certificate from the Council of Legal Education of the West Indies. 

Mr Parker said the episode shows the importance of consultation between the government and the Bar Council. 

“The need for meaningful and robust consultation between the government and Bar Council regarding all appointments to public offices to which persons are required to possess legal qualifications is clear and critical,” he said in response to questions from The Tribune. “It is too often the case that both the Bar Council and the wider legal community only discover appointments to judicial and legal public offices by publication of the same in the local daily newspapers. There is an urgent need for transparency and meritocracy to ensure greater and continued public confidence in the administration of justice and respect for the rule of law in the Bahamas. Vacancies ought to be publicly and routinely advertised to bring an end to the vexing and corrosive perception that high judicial or legal public office is within any politician’s or political party’s gift.”

In June, Cecilia Strachan, permanent secretary for the Office of the Attorney General, said the vacancies were first advertised in the press in January 2017 and that those who applied did not meet the criteria. She said the positions were then advertised internationally in January 2018. She said six people applied and were interviewed by senior OAG officials. The Judicial and Legal Services Commission reviewed their recommendation and made a final decision. 

Attorney General Carl Bethel declined to comment yesterday. Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin could not be reached. 

Comments

The_Oracle 3 weeks, 3 days ago

So No Bahamians meet the criteria, so you hire Foreigners who don't meet the criteria..... I swear there is no competency left in the Bahamas Government.

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Sickened 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I honestly spat out some tea when I read what you wrote. That is friggin hilarious!!! Thank you.

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mandela 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Here they go again wasting the taxpayers' money, so these two FOREIGN DPP's were being paid a salary for six months for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and the BAHAMIAN teachers denied entry to their jobs and salaries cut for trying to do their jobs. Ah boy only in the Bahamas

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bahamianson 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Really? What is this, Wow, amazing! Wow, amazing! Seriously? Wow, just amazing!!! I can't believe this, I am so annoyed that I can't even speak. This is very unacceptable , I am very disappointed in our government and our country! How can we continue to waste money and then come to the Bahamian people to increase taxes because episodes like this continue to happen..

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Chucky 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Well it’s likely a Bahamian can meet the requirements and given our small nation size, it is impossible to find a Bahamian without conflicts of interest in some cases.

Likewise with the police, we all notice how hard it is to get a police report, when the party is related to a cop, even in matters as simple as a car crash. If the guilty party has police family, they get off.

We all know it’s true

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ThisIsOurs 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Dumping on Bahamians too much I don't know what some black Bahamian do to offend you... do I encounter hapless, worthless, rude Bahamians on a weekly basis. Yes. But I interact with quite a number of talented educated and forward thinking and moving Bahamians as well. Change yuh circle, everybody een da same.

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geostorm 3 weeks, 3 days ago

@Chucky, perhaps, someone with no connection to the Bahamian population would be better suited for the role. We have to train our people to not accept corruption. Until such time, we may have to turn to outside help.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 weeks, 3 days ago

The very incompetent Carl Bethel should do all of us Bahamians a big favour and just resign. Why Minnis has not fired him by now says much about Minnis's own incompetence. Frank Smith has already walked free from the corruption charges made against him and the same is about to happen to Shameless Shane Gibson.

The Jamaican QC who represents Smith is now also representing Gibson. In both the Smith case and the Gibson case, the Jamaican QC has all too easily demonstrated the extent to which senior officers and detectives in our police force are grossly unqualified and outrightly incompetent. Our senior police officers and detectives have in fact become the laughing stock of the Caribbean region because they lack the requisite intelligence and training necessary to fulfil their expected duties, especially as regards the handling of critical evidence gathered during an investigation.

The situation is so embarassingly bad that the Jamaican QC holds the view that it would be next to impossible for our enforcement authorities to prevail in getting anyone of financial means with political connections convicted of corruption and fraud charges. In other words, our country's entire very costly law enforcement apparatus is completely ineffective and useless for the purpose of rooting out, investigating, charging, prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of major corruption and fraud cases where the accused is politically connected and has the financial means to hired someone like the Jamaican QC to defend them.

We have truly become a lawless country as a result of our very dysfunctional hiring and training practices for law enforcement personnel. There are way too many D minus educated and lowly paid law enforcement officials in our country today, many of whom are of Haitian descent - soon to be Nigerian descent. Many of these officials owe their progression through the ranks to either their political connections and time of service alone, as opposed to merit based on the demonstrated possession of requisite core competencies. It seems this sad state of affairs has triggered a policy of hiring from abroad - case in point being the two Nigerians - but apparently even this has been botched on the competency front.

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TalRussell 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Come again, not first time a red shirts administration tried such scary hire of a foreigner lawyer over Bahamalander lawyer, yes, no ... Didn't colony's former prime minister comrade Papa Hubert, not hire a Jamaican to fill position as colony's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) - over a local qualified woman's .... You don't make hire a foreigner as colony's DPP up. you just, can't. .

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Ashinnabash 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Not surprising, it happens all the time.

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DaGoobs 3 weeks ago

There is, under the Legal Profession Act, the concept of "a person appointed to a legal public office" who is a non-Bahamian appointed under Article 117 of the Bahamas Constitution by the Governor-General acting on the advice of Judicial and Legal Services to any public office where the officer is required to possess legal qualifications. It seems to me that both the Ugandan and the Nigerian gentlemen satisfy the charateristics of "a person appointed to a legal public office" as the positions of deputy director of public prosecutions and assistant director of public prosecutions both fall within and are appointed under Article 117 of the Constitution. Accordingly, neither the Ugandan or the Nigerian need to be "called" or admitted to the Bahamas Bar in order to discharge their respective duties as assistant director of public prosecutions and deputy director of public prosecutions. They have been brought here for a particular purpose, to assist with or carry out criminal prosecutions and they should now proceed to carry prosecute accordingly. This matter raises the question of whether a Bahamian attorney going to Uganda or Nigeria has a right to be called or admitted to practice law there without restriction? The argument put forward by the Bar Council is inherently weak as the Schedules to the Legal Profession Act could be amended by the Governor-General to allow these persons and others like them who have not gone through the UK or UWI legal education systems to be admitted to practice law in the Bahamas. The Bar Council should have refused these lawyers on the basis that under the Legal Profession Act and Article 117 of the Constitution, they do not need to be admitted to practice law in the Bahamas in order to discharge the duties for which they were hired.

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