By Yankuba Jallow
One Melville Robertson Roberts has instituted a case against the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General, for alleged violations of his fundamental rights and freedom under Section 22 and 37 of the Constitution.
The resident of Old Yundum wants the High Court of The Gambia to make a declaration that the unreasonable withholding by the Inspector General of Police of his jewelry worth 50,000 United States Dollars, is a violation that deprives him of his property and wants the high Court to make an order directing the IGP to immediately return the said items to him or pay him the sum of 50,000 US Dollars being the market value at the time of seizure of the said items.
Mr. Roberts also wants the High Court to make an order awarding reasonable monetary compensation to him (the applicant) for the arbitrary deprivation of his property by the IGP.
In his statement, he said an online petition that he should be fired from his job and calling on the Gambia Bar Association to revoke his licence to practise as a lawyer, was launched.
“No formal complaint was made against me at this point at any police station within The Gambia or at the Ministry of Justice,” he said.
He explained that the content of a letter from the Justice Ministry was basically asking him to return home within seven days to answer to social media allegations or his diplomatic passport will be declared null and void and the British authorities will be notified to have his visa revoked in order for him to be deported to The Gambia.
“The letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was basically a very threatening letter and all this while, there had not been any formal complaint lodged against me,” he said.
He said he responded to the Ministry’s letter that he was not obliged to answer to social media allegations and that he was on approved study leave without salary as alluded to in the letter. He indicated that in his response to the Ministry’s letter, he was not on an official mission abroad and thus cannot be recalled home as per the foreign service regulations and most especially when it is to return to answer to social media allegations that were baseless and unsubstantiated. He said the press release from the Attorney General had inferred that the police were to carry out investigations into the allegations.
“I was further informed by my cousin (Mary Mensah) that the police had gone to my house, broke my bedroom door at around 10 pm at night and took certain things from my room including two trinket boxes containing my mother’s jewels that she had accumulated over the years,” he said.
He said the incident happened in the presence of his cousin and her husband adding that his daughter too was a witness. He added that the police left without handing over any inventory of any sort to his cousin.
He said he was informed that the police went to his house the following night and went again into his room, but this time around they took his mobile phones and laptops and his wife’s jewelry; that his wife’s husband requested for an inventory but the police refused to provide one.
He said he returned in January 2020 and provided himself to the police to help them in their investigations, and gave them detailed explanation as to the struggles he made to get back his mother’s jewelry in his two months stay in the country, but the police would not give him. He said they were giving him the excuse that the custodian of the jewelry was either absent or in a meeting; that his lawyers wrote to the police twice and got no response, but the third letter requesting for his mother’s jewellery was responded to and was told that he should travel back to the Gambia.
He said he informed the police that he was not in a position to return home and that the jewelry should be handed to his Attorney, one Nene Gomez who could not get them.
Melville said it has almost been three years since the police ‘illegally’ went away with his mother’s belongings and jewelry comprising gold silver pals, African beads and gold plated ornaments from his bed room. He said he has various communications from different individuals within the police who all have confirmed at some point, seeing bits and pieces of his belongings, his mother’s jewelry and that of his wife at the police station. He said the jewelry were accumulated for nearly eighty years of his mother’s life on earth and others she inherited from both her grandmother and mother.
“I believe that the police have no right whatsoever to make away with these items that had absolutely nothing to with their investigations,” he said.
He said he believes that the only reason why the police did not give his family an inventory copy of the items is because there was willingness to permanently deprive him and his family of their belongings.
He said on his return to the Gambia, he found that the police made away with his wedding ring worth three thousand United States Dollars ($3000), a gold chain with one carat of diamond bought in Dubai for his wife and also a pair of gold stud earrings that he bought for three hundred pounds sterling, belonging to his daughter. He concluded that without Court intervention, the police will continue to deprive him and his family of his valuables.