By Yankuba Jallow
The Banjul High Court presided over by Justice Aminata Saho-Ceesay, on the 30th July 2018 dismissed the Attorney General’s application to unfreeze some of the frozen assets of former President Yahya Jammeh, particularly those in the Tourism Development Areas, TDA.
The Attorney General applied for the High Court to unfreeze some of the ex-president’s assets that he purportedly obtained illegally from people, including the Daily Observer Newspaper. Also, the Attorney General applied for the Court to unfreeze certain areas in the TDAs, to enable investors construct hotels for the Organisation of Islamic Conference Summit 2019, that will be hosted by The Gambia. In their application, the applicant (the Attorney General), persuaded the Court to grant the State’s application because there are not enough hotel rooms to cater for the Summit and there is an urgent need to construct 10,000 of such hotel rooms. The State in their view believes that if the Court grants their plea, it will enable the Tourism Development Board to allocate places for investors to construct such hotels for the 2019 Summit.
In making a ruling on the case, Justice Saho-Ceesay dismissed the application. She held that the Court had initially granted the State, its application to freeze the assets of the former President, Yahya Jammeh, for 180 days in May 2018, including his properties and accounts pending the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry, that is probing into the financial dealings of the former president and his associates; that if the application is granted, it will deny the Respondent (Yahya Jammeh), his right to his property and it is like ‘shooting oneself on one’s foot’. Justice Saho-Ceesay stated that the Court is not empowered at this stage to discharge or extend its restraining orders, because the Commission of Inquiry has not completed its task yet and there is nothing before the Court that shows that the former President acquired the properties illegally.
At this juncture, the Court sent the State back to wait for the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry probing into the dealings of the former president and his close associates.
Read subsequent editions of Foroyaa for a detailed report on the case.