The police continue dilly-dallying with Nenneh Freda Gomez, Lamin Sey, and Gilbert Manga, three volunteers of the organization Global HOMM. On Monday, 11 October, the three were arrested and charged when they attempted to take possession of a property that the Kanifing magistrate court and the Banjul High Court said belongs to the Global HOMM organization.
The police asked the three volunteers to report to Kairaba Police Station this Wednesday morning for processing them to prosecution. But apparently, the police had other plans and, in the afternoon, whisked Nenneh Freda Gomez, Lamin Sey, and Gilbert Manga to its headquarters in Banjul. The trio was later asked to go home until this Thursday morning.
The latest development is not a surprise to those following the case. From all indications, the State is bent on forcing its way to take over the property in Bijilo despite the lower and High court rulings.
On Tuesday, Gambia’s Minister of Information, Ebrima Sillah, hinted to West Coast Radio’s Peter Gomez that the government once discussed the disputed Bijilo property in a cabinet meeting.
According to Ebrima Sillah, one “amicable” solution envisaged is to convince Global HOMM of Neneh Freda Gomez to accept another land compensation elsewhere as the location of its Bijilo property is meant for Tourism Development.
The property in question was leased to the Global HOMM organization until former Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh abused his powers and took it from the organization. After his defeat and exile, President Adama Barrow’s administration maintained the status quo and refused to return the property to the organization. In 2017, the government used the property to host the Police Anti Crime Unit.
The State would not relent on grabbing the property
In 2019, Global HOMM sued at the Kanifing Magistrate Court to reclaim what it deemed its rightfully owned property. The court ordered that Global HOMM shall take possession of the property and ordered the Inspector general of police, the Director of Lands and Survey, and the Attorney General to pay Global HOMM D50,000 for general damages for trespass and D25,000 for the cost of the action.
Concurrent to the judgment, the Kanifing magistrate court served the Inspector general of police, the Director of Lands and Survey, and the Attorney General a writ of possession of the land. The court ordered these entities of the State to surrender the Bijilo property to Global HOMM. The court also wrote to the sheriff to enforce the judgment in 2019.
Nevertheless, the sheriff failed to comply and never acted to enforce the court’s judgment in favor of Neneh Freda and Global HOMM. But the existing court ruling prevails that grants ownership to the organization despite the sheriff’s non-compliance.
Meanwhile, in June 2020, Neneh Freda Gomez and her organization sought redress from the High Court in Banjul to enforce the Kaninifing Magistrate Court’s original judgment in their favor since 2019.
The High Court ruled that the State’s Notice of Acquisition and Revocation of the lease for the property in Bijilo of Global HOMM, then occupied by the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force, was null and void.
The High Court also ruled that the lease registration of Global HOMM remains valid and subsisting.
Moreover, the High Court judgment asked that the Government of the Gambia pay five hundred thousand dalasis (D500,000) to Global HOMM.
Initially, the Attorney General conceded to the high court’s judgment. But the AG suddenly changed its stance and opted to challenge the ruling in favor of Neneh Freda Gomez and her organization Global HOMM.
So albeit the Lower and High courts rulings, the government of The Gambia continued to use the complex of Global HOMM to host the headquarters of the Police Anti Crime unit.
Meanwhile, the Anti Crime Unit on-site in the Bijilo property pleaded with Global HOMM to give them time to vacate because the sheriff had this time issued them eviction notice following the High Court ruling. The security unit of the police only left the property recently to move to the Police Training School.
In the absence of a stay of execution pending the determination of the AG’s appeal and since the State was never granted anything of the sort by any court of law of The Gambia, Neneh Freda Gomez and her organization vested with rightful ownership went to the property’s premises in Bijilo on 11 October prompting the latest intimidation spree by the State, and the police struggle to control the damages. This Facebook post of Neneh Freda Gomez on Wednesday afternoon says it all.
“We reported this morning by 8:30 am with hopes that we will be taken to court today at 9: am as we were told yesterday, but to our dismay, the hopping around started when we got there. Finally, at 10:42 am, the police at Kanifing escorted us to Kanifing police station where the prosecution unit sits for them to take us to court“, Neneh Freda Gomez shared in her post on Facebook.
“The OC at that station reviewed the file and immediately called Kairaba to tell them that he is unable to act on the file because there is not sufficient evidence for prosecution. He sent the file back to Kairaba at 11:26 am. When we got to Kairaba, they now remembered that Bijilo is within the jurisdiction of Brusubi police station and will send the file there. Again after further consultation, they were told the OC there is not at work. So we were sent back to Kanifing at 12:39 pm,” Neneh continues her explanation of what happened this Wednesday.
“When we arrived this time, the OC sat with his prosecution team and reviewed the file together. They concluded that they could not prosecute because there is a prior judgment from the High Court in Banjul which supersedes their powers thus cannot do anything. They consulted with the commissioner of prosecution in Banjul and later informed us that the file is being sent to Banjul, Neneh added“.
“We were again escorted to Banjul at 13:33. The commissioner also reviewed the file with two of his assistants and later invited us in together with our attorney. He asked us to explain what the issue was, and our attorney had to explain the genesis. Finally, the commissioner said he would have to consult with his superiors then get back to us but emphasized that they may have to send the file to the AG Chambers. He then said he would extend the bail to tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9: 00 am,” Neneh ended.