Monday, May 10, 2021

Attorney General Makes U-Turn in Property Case Involving Anti-Crime Headquarters

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By Yankuba Jallow

The Attorney General has made a change in position regarding the property serving as the Anti-Crime Headquarters in Bijilo which is the subject of claim by Global HOMM.

The AG conceded in the previous case and a judgment was entered in favour of Global HOMM. Now Global HOMM is seeking the court to enforce the judgment, and the Attorney General is saying Global HOMM cannot sue.

Lawyer Aji A. Ceesay for the Attorney General made an application for the high court to strike out the suit brought by Home of Medical Mission (Global HOMM) seeking to enforce the judgment in their favour.

Lawyer Ceesay said Global HOMM is not a ‘juristic person’ capable of suing since it is not registered in the country. She applied for the suit to be struck out based on this ground.

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Lawyer Rachel Y. Mendy for Global HOMM will reply to the Attorney General on the 9th February 2021.

Readers would recall  the high court on Monday, 29th June 2020 asked the Government of the Gambia to pay five hundred thousand dalasi (D500,000) to Global Home of Medical Mission (Global HOMM).

The Gambia Government was dragged to court in respect of a piece of land currently occupied by the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force located in Bijilo.

The Respondents in this case were Minister of Lands and Regional Government, Director for Lands and Surveys and the Attorney General.

On the first ground of the application, Global HOMM sought for the court to declare that the Notice of Acquisition and Revocation of their lease with serial registration number K12/07 in respect to their property in Bijilo which is currently occupied by the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force was null and void.

On the second ground, they wanted the court to declare that the purpose for which their property has been compulsorily acquired by the State was not for public use.

They also sought from the court a declaration that the lease registration of their property that the Anti-Crime Unit is occupying remains valid and subsisting.

They wanted the court to declare that the allocation and the vesting of title of their property to a third party was null and void.

They wanted the court to make an order that no Notice of Acquisition and Revocation of their leased property was served on them prior to the purported revocation.

They wanted the court to make an order setting aside all transactions entered into by the Respondents with any third parties in relation to their property.

They wanted the court to award cost of five hundred thousand dalasis (D500,000) in their favour.

The State, through State Counsel, Muhammed B. Sowe said the respondents have conceded to the application by the defence seeking several declarations from the court.

“The respondents concede to the application on the ground that the notice was not gazetted as required by section 7 (5) of the Lands Acquisition and Compensation Act,” Sowe informed the court.

He added: “the respondent concede to the application and will follow the proper procedure. We have reasons for doing that. We want to follow the right procedure.”

Lawyer Rachael Y. Mendy for the applicants (Global HOMM) indicated to the court that she had no objection to the State Counsel’s submission. However, she sought for the court to go ahead to grant the application.

The High Judge, Justice Achibonga granted the application and awarded cost of D500,000 against the State.

The health facility was unceremoniously closed down in 2010 by the Gambia Government. Global HOMM was unceremoniously expelled from The Gambia by former President Yahya Jammeh without explanation in 2010.

On 14 February 2007, Global HOMM was registered as a charitable company in The Gambia, Certificate Number: 53/2007. The NGO Affairs Agency certified that Global HOMM was registered, recognized and allowed to operate as an International NGO in The Gambia on the 11 September 2008 as A76 NGO.

Global HOMM claimed to have spent a million and half in the construction of the structure that the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force is occupying. After it was closed down, the land was abandoned for some time before Jammeh’s Green Boys occupied the place. When the current regime took over from Jammeh, the Green Boys were moved out and replaced with the Anti-Crime Unit of the Police Force, who are permanently occupying the place.

In September 2019, a judgment was obtained from the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court in favour of the group in which writ of possession was issued. From September 2019 to date, they are struggling to take over the land.

In that case, the Gambia Police Force, Ministry of Interior and Director of Lands and Survey were the defendants before the Magistrate’s Court. The defendants through their Counsel admitted to the claims of Global HOMM and the court entered judgment in favour of the group. The court made orders that the group shall take possession of the property. Also, the court awarded cost in favour of the group and ordered the defendants to pay them D50,000 for general damages for trespass. The lower court ordered the defendant to pay the group D25,000 for the cost of the action.

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