By Yankuba Jallow
Global Home of Medical Mission has renewed its call on the Gambia Government to stop trespassing on its property.
Currently, there are paramilitary stationed at the property and they wouldn’t allow officials from Global HOMM to access the property. Global HOMM have two court decisions in their favour, but they couldn’t still access their property.
The Sheriff Division of the High Court gave Global HOMM possession of the land, but the Gambia Government is denying them access to it. Section 120 (4) of the 1997 Constitution provides that “The Government and all departments and agencies of the Government shall accord such assistance to the courts as the courts may reasonably require to protect their independence, dignity and effectiveness.”
Neneh Freda Gomez speaking on behalf of the organization said Global HOMM plans to build a hospital for the public to access medical service, but the Government wants to forcefully take the land from them to build a hotel for the OIC Summit slated to take place next year.
“Of course, this Executive – this Government have an interest in the property, but instead of following due process – instead of following legal means – instead of them engaging us the legal owners, they are trying to flex their muscles. They are trying to use force to acquire this property for their own selfish individual interests,” Gomez said.
News report on the 20th October both on television and newspaper, showed footage of officials from the OIC Secretariat, at the property in Bijilo with their investor/contractor for a site visit.
“The OIC visit was unlawful. It was done without our authority. We did not permit it – we did not grant it. We didn’t even know about it until it happened,” she said.
Gomez said a court judgment can only be set-aside by another court with superior jurisdiction, adding without which the judgment should be enforced. She informed Foroyaa that their lawyer has written to the OIC Secretariat cautioning them not to trespass on their land.
“Our courts should be taken seriously and judgments should be enforced,” she said.
She said Global HOMM are the legal owners of the property as per the judgment and the leased document.
“Anybody that is doing anything here is trespassing. Anybody that is doing anything here is illegally doing it,” she said.
She said the Government is trying to take the property forcefully and illegally from them. She explained that Government can take over someone’s property, but they must follow due process.
“They [Government] don’t have the right to forcefully take a property from citizens forcefully for their individual selfish interests,” she said.
“Why will you take a property that is meant to be a hospital that is for community use and it will go a long way to serve other countries in our neighbourhood because it is going to be a state of art [standard] hospital?” she said.
She said they will relentlessly push to get back the property using legal means.
Neneh was arrested together with two others by the police some time ago and she is still reporting to the police. She is charged with trespass and malicious injury to property.
“We were arrested unlawfully. They were saying that we trespassed. I don’t know how we can trespass on our own land. They still cannot take us to court. They have been dragging us back and forth,” she said.
The hospital, which was converted as the Anti-Crime Unit headquarters, 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 used to house the Anti-Crime Unit of the Gambia Police Force. 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, who occupied 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 have 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.
In another case, the high court adjudged that the property belongs to Global HOMM after the State through the Attorney General conceded to the claims of Global HOMM.