Hon. Dawda Jallow Attorney General and Minister of Justice

The uproar that followed the arrest of Ms Neneh Freda Gomez on suspicion of
obstruction and idle and disorderly conduct has necessitated the release of this
statement. As stated in our previous statement, the lack of an elaborate response by
this office has been as a result of the pendency of this matter before the Courts. This
silence on our part has led to the propagation of blatant falsehoods in an attempt to
influence public opinion. The facts of this matter are as follows:

1. In 2007 a Korean-American Christian medical missionary organisation known
as Global Hearts of Medical Mission made an elaborate presentation to
former President Jammeh on the establishment of a state of the art medical
facility to deliver free medical services to underprivileged members of the
public. Following this presentation, without following due process and contrary
to law, former President Jammeh gave an executive directive for a lease to be
issued to the said organisation within the Tourism Development Area (TDA), an
area reserved for tourism-related facilities. Furthermore, former President
Jammeh gave an executive directive for the organisation to be promptly issued
with an NGO certificate even though the law requires operation for two years
before the issuance of an NGO certificate.

2. In 2007 Global Hearts of Medical Mission set up its operations at the property
in question and provided medical services to the public until they were expelled
by former President Jammeh in 2010, on allegations of their failure to provide
free medical services as promised. Following this, the former President illegally
converted the property into a base for the “Green Boys”.

3. Upon assumption of office in 2017, the Government dispatched a high-level
delegation which included 2 Cabinet Ministers and the Director of Health to
meet with the head of the Global Hearts of Medical Mission in the United States
and invite them to return to The Gambia to continue their work of providing
charitable medical services as per their initial proposal. The Government
however informed the organisation that the land previously allocated to them
was not properly allocated as it was within the area reserved for tourism
development facilities. The Government, therefore, informed them that they will
be allocated another parcel of land in an area suitable for the establishment of
a charitable hospital for the provision of free medical services for the less
privileged.

4. Global Hearts of Medical Mission denied all attempts by the Government to
allocate them with an alternative piece of land and insisted on keeping the
mostly vacant parcel of land measuring 9 hectares within the TDA. At the time,
the Government was in the early stages of planning for the hosting of the
upcoming OIC summit and required land to build executive lodging facilities for
the Heads of State and Government who will be participating in the said summit.
The area in question was deemed to be the most suitable land for the
development and importantly it was consistent with its lawful status as TDA
land.

5. According to law, all state land is vested with the Government for management
in the public interest. Accordingly, all leaseholders are tenants of the state who
may not be dispossessed of the land unless due process is followed. The Land
Acquisition Act permits the state to compulsorily acquire any state land from a
leaseholder as far as such land is acquired for a public purpose and the
leaseholder is compensated.

6. A plaint was filed on the 20th of March 2019 by “Home of Medical Mission” at
the Kanifing Magistrate’s Court for possession of the land in question. In light
of the Government’s intention to follow the process of compulsory acquisition,
the Government conceded to the claim with the clear intention of pursuing the
compulsory acquisition route.

7. Following the Magistrate Court judgement which for purposes of clarity was not
on the merits but rather as a result of a technical concession by the State, the
Department of Lands initiated the process of compulsory acquisition on the 20th
of March 2020. In line with the law, the Government still maintained its desire
to adequately compensate the claimants but the claimants rebuffed all
approaches from the Government.

8. Following this, Home of Medical Mission made another application before the
High Court on the 26th of May 2020 challenging the compulsory acquisition of
the property, based on a gazetting step that was inadvertently skipped by the
state in the course of the acquisition process. In this matter, the court made it
very clear that a declaration of title was no bar to the state initiating and
completing the acquisition process in line with the Land Acquisition Act. The
State again made a technical concession with the intention of properly
complying with the process laid out in the Lands Acquisition Act, contained in
judgement of 29th June 2020.

9. It will be recalled that all the suits were initiated in the name of Home of Medical
Mission, the same name that was on the lease issued under executive directive
by former President Jammeh. In an attempt to settle the cost order in that
matter, it became apparent that there was no organisation existing by the name
of Home of Medical Mission. A thorough search at the Companies Registry
revealed that Home of Medical Mission has never been incorporated in The
Gambia or anywhere for that matter contrary to the representations made by
Ms Gomez in her affidavit. Because the judgement was in favour of “Home of
Medical Mission” which does not exist, it was and remains unenforceable.

10.This discovery revealed that the Claimants intentionally misled the Courts and
the Government by bringing a suit on behalf of an organisation that does not
exist, and cannot sue or hold title to land. The Government requested the
Claimants to provide evidence of their existence as a legal entity but until now
they have been unable to do so. It is important to state again that it was the
current Government that invited the claimants back to The Gambia after their
faith believing Home of Medical Mission was a legal entity. The law is very
clear on this, a non-legal entity cannot own land. Similarly, a non-existing entity
cannot sue or be sued as no judgement can be enforced against or in its favour.

11. At the time, the claimants had an application before the High Court for an order
of mandamus to compel the IGP to vacate the land in question. In light of the
discovery, the State made an application to dismiss the application on the
grounds that the Plaintiff does not exist. There is no existing law or scenario
that will permit a non-existing entity to initiate and maintain a lawsuit. On the
day the matter was set for hearing, fearing a ruling on their non-existence, the
Claimants surprisingly withdrew their claim.

12.Following the Claimants surprise withdrawal of their application, the state
applied to set aside the High Court’s judgement dated 29th June 2020 on the
grounds that the judgement was fraudulently obtained and the Claimants do
not exist. This application is scheduled to be heard on the 2nd of December
2021 and we are confident that this will lay bare the deception that has been
perpetrated by the claimants. This follows a trend of individuals applying for
land allocations under the guise of implementing public interest projects and
then turning around to utilise these lands for profit-making ventures.

13.As things stand there is no entity in existence by the name of Home of Medical
Mission. Ms Gomez cannot, therefore, be said to represent an organisation
that does not exist. Similarly, the land in question has never been held by
Global Hearts of Medical Mission, which Ms Gomez purports to represent.
As such all previous judgements are unenforceable as there is no beneficiary
in existence.

14. It is interesting to note that the original proposal made by Global Hearts of
Medical Mission to former President Jammeh was for a charity hospital. The
constant persistence by Ms Gomez to try to bend the law and mislead the public
is non-surprising given credible reports that Ms Gomez is in discussions with
several investors to develop a private for-profit hospital and hotel on the land
which is valued at millions of dollars. This is immoral, deceptive, and constitutes
an attempt at unjust enrichment by Ms Gomez and her associates at the
expense of the Gambian public.

15. The Government through the OIC issued a public call for proposals and
following a transparent process has entered into a joint venture to build and
operate a 5-star resort that will host the Heads of State during the OIC summit.
This development which will be rightfully situated in the TDA will create
thousands of jobs in the tourism sector and will form a key part of the
Government’s plans to make the Gambia a high-value year-round tourist
destination.

16.Despite everything, the Government is and has always been willing to work with
Global Hearts of Medical Mission to lawfully allocate them with a sufficient
expanse of land in an area suitable for the setting up of a charitable hospital as
far as they comply with their original proposal to build a charitable health facility.
17.Ms Gomez has for months now embarked on a campaign of public deception
and has intentionally provoked law enforcement to elicit a reaction which she
could utilise in furthering this deception. We have full trust in our law
enforcement and judicial institutions and a ruling by the court on a previous
arrest is in no way a bar to the police doing their job on a subsequent suspected
offence. The Police have been deployed to provide security at the property
which has since been allocated by the state to a Public Private Partnership
company, for the purpose of constructing the OIC 5-star resort.

18. It is undisputed that Global Hearts of Medical Mission, which Ms Gomez
purports to represent, does not and has never held title to the land in question.
We challenge Ms Gomez to produce any evidence to the contrary. We are
resolute in our position and are confident that after the hearing on the 2nd of
December this matter will be resolved once and for all.

19.We wish to assure the general public of our commitment to Human Rights and
the Rule of Law. We have confidence in our judicial system and to date have
not disregarded any of the Court’s orders. We believe the Judiciary is
adequately placed to deal with all issues at stake in this matter and the
Complainants ought to know that disputes are not resolved through Social
Media.

20.All statements characterising her arrest on Friday 19th November 2021 as
arbitrary are premature, bias and made without due recourse to the state’s
position on this matter. We urge members of the public, institutions and civil
society to refrain from making conclusive statements on these events without
proper consultations or verification.

Previous articleOUR FLAG
Next articleMarathon Eiffage Dakar 2021: Two Gambians Shine with Gold and Silver Medal
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here