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Gambia : Global Hearts fires back at gov’t

25 November 2021, The Standard
Gambia : Global Hearts fires back at gov’t

The Global Hearts of Medical Missions has reacted sharply to a statement released by the Gambia government disagreeing with virtually everything and also vowed that it will not be deterred by any form of state intimidation and harassment in its strive to reclaim its property.

The Missions coordinator Nenneh Freda Gomez was re-arrested, charged and arraigned by the police Monday following a visit to the property which the court ruled belongs to her organisation.

The land, which was previously occupied by the police anti crime unit, is proposed to host a luxury hotel for the OIC conference next year.

The matter generated public attention with the Ministry of Justice issuing a statement claiming that the suits won by Mrs Gomez were because she intentionally “misled the courts by bringing a suit on behalf of an organisation that does not exist and cannot sue, hold title to land and no judgment can be enforced against or in its favor.”

The government also alleged that Mrs Gomez is in discussions with some investors to develop a private hospital and hotel on the site.

But in a statement signed by Dr. Gabou Mendy, the organisation’s medical director and board member, the group said the attempt by the Attorney General and the State to take the law into their own hands is an abuse of power and that they will never relent in their objective to protect their rights.

“To state that the Claim for possession before the Kanifing Magistrates’ Court was not determined on its merits is a farce. The witnesses for Home of Medical Mission testified in the suit and upon closing its case the State reopened its case. A crucial part of the evidence that was adduced by the State in particular by the Deputy Director of Lands and Surveys was that the State could not defend the action because the records at the Lands Department indicate that the property belongs to Home of Medical Mission. It was in consequence of that piece of evidence that the State eventually conceded to the Claim.

The case was therefore heard and determined on its merits leading to the admission of liability by the State. The State never sought at the time to compulsorily acquire the said property. If for anything the State made an attempt by way of an application to strike out the suit on the representation that the property was one of those acquired by Yahya Jammeh and therefore a subject of the Janneh Commission, which was in fact false. The said application was dismissed by the Court. The State thereafter accepted payment of Land Rent from the Mission in the sum of D589,500 (five hundred and eighty-nNine thousand, five hundred dalasi only) covering the period of 2007 to 2020. Why then did they accept and receive the said payment if as the Attorney General claims they intended to compulsorily acquire the property considering also to the fact that such a payment should have been waived since during the period 2010 to 2019 when the property was wrongfully in the possession of the State until it was handed by the said court judgment in September 2019”.

GHOMM further alleged that President Barrow had confided in its medical director Dr Mendy during a meeting at the State House that “he [Barrow] had received $87,000,000.00 from a foreign investor to build a 5 Star Hotel for the purposes of the OIC three-day Conference after which the property would revert to the said investor.

“This discussion was later confirmed in a recorded conversation between Nenneh Freda Gomez and the Government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh. The Attorney General in his attempt to mislead the public in his press statement has been very economical in the non-disclosure of these facts.”

They also stated that following the illegal acquisition of the property by the State, the GHOMM filed an application at the high court seeking to set aside the said acquisition as being illegal and unconstitutional and for a declaration that the purpose for which the said property was acquired was not for public use.

“The State immediately conceded that the acquisition was not only illegal but was also not for public use and orders of the court to that effect were granted accordingly with Cost of D500,000.00 awarded in favor of the Mission. According to the medical organisation they had never reported that Home of Medical Mission was registered in the Gambia since all its affidavits established that the Home of Medical Mission was registered under the umbrella of Global Hearts of Medical Mission as a registered legal entity in the Gambia and US.”

GHOMM said it is “ironical” that the Attorney General would state that a non-legal entity cannot own land when it is the State itself that granted the lease to the Mission, permitted it to develop the land and even accepted the judgment of the Magistrates’ Court and payment of land rent from the Mission which has never been refunded by the State. “Ownership of the property remains in the Mission and therefore the State could not have legitimately transferred it to anyone else. The organisation also explained that the withdrawal of its court application for a writ of mandamus to compel the IPG remove the Anti-Crime Unit was mutually agreed with the state conceding to it since the police had already vacated the property.”
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