Amina Saho-Ceesay of the Banjul High Court on July 30 dismissed Attorney
General’s application to unfreeze some of the frozen assets of former President
Yahya Jammeh, especially 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 Daily Observer Newspaper. He also applied for the Court to unfreeze certain areas in the TDA to enable investors to construct hotels for the Organisation of Islamic Conference summit 2019 that The Gambia will be hosting.
The AG persuaded the Court to grant the State’s application because there are not enough hotel rooms to cater for the summit and there is urgent need to construct 10,000 of such hotel rooms. The state in their view believes that if the Court grants their appeal, it would enable the Tourism Development Board to allocate places for investors to construct such hotels for the 2019 summit.
In her 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 former President for 180 days in May 2018, including his properties and accounts pending the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry that is probing the financial dealings of the former President and his close associates.
She said if the application is granted, it will deny the respondent (Yahya Jammeh) his right to his property which, she said will be 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 former President Jammeh acquired the properties illegally.
At this juncture, the Court sent the State back to wait for the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry probing the financial dealings of former President and his close associates.