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Madi Jobarteh: Democracy Under Threat, Our Rights At Risk.

Nenneh Freda Gomez At The Police Station

For your information, Nenneh and Lamin Sey have spent the night at Senegambia police station after the Station Officer there had said he will charge them and then bail them to go home. But as soon as they were charged by his officers for obstructing police officers, the Station Officer disappeared. His phone was unreachable and his officers said they won’t release Nenneh and Lamin until they get order from their Station Officer who was nowhere to be seen.

Consequently these innocent citizens were forced to spend the night in the police station! It was clear that the police were getting orders from elsewhere to detain these people. It is unfortunate that until today our police will allow themselves to be used for political purposes. Very tragic.

Gambians, let us understand what is happening and stand up to defend our rights and hold the Government accountable. If we allow a citizen and an organization to be subjected to such intimidation and violence by forcefully seizing their property by none other than the Government itself, rest assured that the rights and properties of each one of us are also at risk. The action of the Government tantamount to armed robbery!

This issue is about a land in Bijilo which belongs the Global HOMM, an NGO that provides free healthcare services to communities.

But the property was first seized by Tyrant Jammeh, even though it was during that time the Government allocated the land to them. This was mentioned in the Janneh Commission report that the land was leased to Global HOMM. So the land is indeed their property. In fact they had started building structures of a healthy facility there since the days of the Dictatorship.

But Dictator Jammeh forcefully took it and lodged his despicable Green Youths there. After the end of that regime, the Government of Adama Barrow also decided to lodge the Anti Crime Unit there instead of peacefully returning the property to its rightful owners!

Global HOMM then took the matter to court and obtained judgements in their favour in both the magistrates and high courts. The court then gave an order to the Sheriff to execute the judgements which were that the Government to allow Global HOMM to take possession of the property because it is theirs.

But since then the Barrow Government has refused to accept the court rulings but rather decide to flout them with impunity. Just last month when Nenneh and staff went to do work in their property they found paramilitary police stationed there who prevented them from entering the property. When Nenneh insisted, the police arrested her and Lamin. They decided to challenge their arrest in court and a month later the court ruled that their arrest was unlawful and they should be compensated D100,000, just 3 days ago.

But yesterday, November 19, Nenneh and Lamin got arrested again when they went to visit their property.

The Gambia Government has a duty to respect the rule of law and this includes to uphold court rulings. The Gambia Government should not be the one to flout court rulings but to enforce them. But what is happening to Nenneh and Lamin is a clear case of Government acting like a gangster who has no regard for civilized and lawful behavior. This misconduct by the Government is a direct threat to each and every citizen.

It is unfortunate that 5 years after voting out the Dictatorship that until today dictatorial practices continue to prevail. It shows that when this Government of Adama Barrow continues in power indeed dictatorship shall return to The Gambia once again in full. There’s no other way to explain it.

This is because The Gambia Government knows that if indeed it needs any leased land the law provides that it can acquire that land from its rightful owner and compensate accordingly. Hence the Government has powers to take this property from Global HOMM without having to use any force and treachery. All that the Government could do is to notify Global HOMM about its intentions and ensure they provide the right compensation to the organization.

Alternatively, the Government can engage the organization amicably to ask them to donate full or part of the land so that they compensate the organization with another piece of land somewhere else. Many things are possible to do without the use of force and violence. Unfortunately, our Government led by the President and the Attorney General have decided to become armed robbers against innocent citizens and a legitimate organization!

This is how matters stand. Therefore if you are a citizen with conscience then get up to show solidarity with Nenneh and Lamin. This is in your own personal interest because if you defend a right by stopping the Government from destroying it, you are effectively protecting your own right.

If we allow the Government to use violence to seize these people’s rights successfully then rest assured that one day your own right is also going to be taken away by force. Therefore go and show solidarity with Nenneh and Lamin and demand the Government to protect and not to damage rights.

Now look at an innocent Gambian woman curled up in the verandah of a police station forcefully seized by the powers that should protect her! Is this right and legal?

For The Gambia Our Homeland

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