By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
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.