By Yusef Taylor and Ousman Saidykhan
Gambia Police Officers gave a trio including the Country Representative for Global Homes of Medical Mission (GHOMM) and two colleagues the run-around starting from Kairaba Police Station to Kanifing Police Station and finally ending at Banjul Police Headquarters on Wednesday 13th October 2021. Police Officers decided not to prosecute the trio on two occasions after charging them with criminal trespass and malicious injury to a property that the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court and the High Court both ruled to be owned by GHOMM.
Gainako Online News reported that GHOMM Country Representative Ms Nenneh Freda Gomez and two other colleagues namely, Gilbert Manga and Lamin Sey were arrested and charged on Monday 11th October 2021 at the former Anti-Crime Unit Headquarters. On the day the trio were arrested their charges were changed at least twice while Senior Police Officers shuttled in and out of meetings with the trio and their lawyer to decide what to do.
Since then, the trio spent most of Tuesday 12th October at Kairaba Police Station and Wednesday 13th October shuttling between Kairaba, Kanifing and Banjul Police Stations as officers consult Senior Officers and Authorities. On Tuesday the trio was asked to report the following day at 9 am to Kairaba Police Station which they did. They were escorted to Kanifing Police Station for the prosecution team to commence legal proceedings against the trio at Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
According to Ms Gomez when they arrived at Kanifing Police Station “the Officer in Charge [Superintendent Sowe] … reviewed the file and immediately called Kairaba [Police Station] and told them that he is unable to act on the file because there is insufficient evidence for prosecution. He sent the file back to Kairaba [Police Station] at 11:26 am.”
At Kairaba Police Station Officers made efforts to transfer the case back to Brusubi Police Station being the nearest Police Station where the arrest was made, however, the Officer in Charge at Brusubi Police Station was not at work. Gainako has been informed that the Officer in Charge at Kairaba Police Station is Kawsu Ceesay. The trio was sent to Kanifing Police Station after another round of consultation.
At Kanifing Police Station Ms Gomez recalls that “the Officer in Charge [Superintendent Sowe] sat with his prosecution team and reviewed the file” and concluded that they could not proceed with the case as “there is a prior judgment from the High Court in Banjul which supersedes their powers”. After further consultation with the Commissioner of Prosecution in Banjul Ms Gomez says they “informed us that the file is being sent to Banjul” and were “escorted to Banjul at 13:33 pm”.
Upon arrival at the Gambia Police Headquarters in Banjul, the trio met the Commissioner for Prosecution [Commissioner Sanneh] together with their Lawyer at around 2 pm. After further consultation, the Commissioner extended the trio’s bail to Thursday at 10 am to give him enough time to consult with his Superiors and the Attorney General’s Office.
Speaking to Ms Gomez this morning she informed Gainako that they have now been placed on indefinite bail while the Commissioner’s Office decides on what to do next. The case file is expected to be returned to Kairaba Police Station.
Background on the Case
- GHOMM was first allocated the land at Bijilo by former President Yahya Jammeh in 2007.
- By 2008 GHOMM had built a Health Facility and furnished it with medical equipment to the grand total of $1.5 Million and was inaugurated by former President Jammeh.
- In 2010 the leaders of GHOMM were evicted from the country by the former President and the property was occupied by the Green Boys, a vigilante group associated with the former President and Security Institutions. All the medical equipment and the building furnishing were scavenged.
- In 2018 after the new Government of President Adama Barrow came into Office they allocated the property to the Anti Crime Unit.
- Two court rulings were issued in 2019 by the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court and in 2020 by the High Court declaring GHOMM as owners of the property.
- The Anti Crime Unit moved out of the disputed land in September 2021 after eviction notices from the Sheriff’s Office.
- Since then the legally awarded owners have been struggling to possess the land after Officers from the Sheriff’s Office attempted to possess the land on Monday 4th October 2021.
- The trio was eventually arrested on Monday 11th October 2021 at the property in Bijilo and charged with Criminal Trespass and Malicious Injury to Property belonging to GHOMM.
Three articles have been published on the issue and a number of videos have been published online which can be accessed below.