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City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

GHOMM vs The State – State Bullying or Bureaucratic bungling

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An interesting quote from the summary from Kexx Sanneh (on Facebook) on the case of Global HOMM: “In their application, the state contended that their search at the company’s registry indicates that GHOMM does not exist as a legal entity and therefore lacked the capacity to institute the case and as a result the court also lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter and that the judgment cannot be enforced since GHOMM does not exist as a legal entity.”

The question is – was the search in the company registry for GHOMM limited to the local register of companies at the Registrar General of the Attorney General’s Chambers or was it a worldwide search of the existence of GHOMM as a company globally? The point is – if the search has been limited to the local or national register only, does that disqualify any company (any legal entity) from owning or being allocated State land that is not registered locally? If so, by extension – does that disqualify a non- Gambian or a non- citizen from owning or being allocated State land? If this premise is wrong (most probably so) then – has GHOMM been registered in some other country (say Canada)? If so, can Ms Gomez provide such evidence to refute the claim of non-existence of GHOMM as a legal entity?

This case seems murky and bungled by tendencies of a forceful bureaucracy trying to enforce the will of the State. Clearly, the State has the right to any landed property but a process needs to be followed. That’s the essence of institutions in a democracy and respecting their decisions is part of strengthening them and not weakening them by finding excuses and loopholes around their processes and decisions.

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The confrontation is totally unwarranted – rightly or wrongly, it smacks of bullying. There is a better way by the State than seeking administrative “loopholes” to enforce its will. It is as if a bureaucracy is trying to justify a misplaced advice that has earlier been given. The most forthright approach from the very beginning was to simply apply the concept of eminent domain especially after the loss of the first court case by the State.

Ms Gomez is a citizen and it is the responsibility to protect citizens which should include understanding their plight and finding an amicable solution. Investors are generally interested in the manner in which the State handles judicial matters and the approach could send the wrong signals.

From an administrative point of view, one would have evoked a compulsory purchase order and also provided an alternative allocation (perhaps outside the Tourism Development Area) that is suitable for the land use being proposed (considering the proposed social service to be provided – a hospital).

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The matter now seems to require a political decision or intervention rather leaving it, in what seems, with the bureaucracy, in order to take account of the image of governance of the country. By that, a compromise should be sought – GHOMM to be reallocated, and have their status regularised if need be, and government to pursue the use of the land in accordance with a public purpose objective – a settlement out of Court.

Just Thinking Aloud.

Lamino  Lang Comma

Brikama

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