By Tabora Bojang
Melville Roberts, a former head of American Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has filed a lawsuit against the Inspector General of Police for wrongfully withholding $50,000.00 worth of jewelry belonging to his mother which were allegedly taken from his house following a police search.
Melville also accused the police of taking away his wedding ring worth $3000, a gold chain with a 1 carat diamond stone and a pair of gold stud earrings worth £300.
Melville, who was out of the country at the time, argued in the suit that following a press release from the justice ministry saying he was being investigated for alleged offenses, he was informed by his cousin that police had gone to his house at Paradise Estate, broke into his bedroom at around 10pm and took certain things including two trinket boxes containing all the jewelry his mother accumulated over the years.
Melville also alleged that the police broke into his bedroom in the presence of his cousin who warned them that the jewelry they were confiscating belonged to his mother and not Melville’s but they told her to keep quiet and not obstruct their work.
“The police left without handing over any inventory of any sort to my cousin Mary Mensah whose husband was also present. Mary informed me that when her husband asked about an inventory, they [police] told him to go to Serekunda police station the next day. I was also informed that the police returned the following night and went again into my bedroom and further collected more jewelry including that of my wife and mobile phones and my laptops. My cousin’s husband informed me that he finally went to the police and was yet again referred to another station and given a document purportedly an inventory to sign and when he asked for a copy of the purported inventory, the police declined to do so and informed him that he will be called to receive a copy. He went back and forth to the police and was never provided with this inventory.”
According to Melville, he has made himself available to the police to help their investigations when he returned to the country in January 2020, adding that he kept asking why his mother’s jewelry was taken even though the item has nothing to do with the investigations of his alleged offense.
“One inspector Yorro Saidy informed me that he could not even understand why the police would collect those jewels and even quizzed the officers about it. I further asked Commissioner Ramou for the reasons why my mother’s jewelry was taken from my bedroom but I had no satisfactory answer but she indeed confirmed that she saw the two baskets with some jewelry inside and she was informed that it was taken from my house. Until I left the Gambia two months after I arrived, I was given one excuse after another as to why I could not be handed back my mother’s jewelry and the excuse was always that the custodian of these items was either in a meeting or absent. I also informed Inspector Habib Sanyang who also confirmed that he saw the said basket but could not trace the said jewelry and all inquiries as to their whereabouts proved futile. My lawyers had written to the police twice and got no response, and the 3rd letter requesting that my mother’s jewelry be handed back to me was responded to and I was told that I should travel to Gambia to collect them,” he stated in the suit.
He said when he responded that the jewelry be handed over to his attorney because he could not come and pick it, he was told to grant authority to someone close to collect them on his behalf which saw him nominate Neneh Gomez to collect the jewelry but she was asked to write a letter indicating willingness to collect them.
Melville further claimed that even though Ms Gomez did as instructed by the police, he is still yet to receive his mother’s jewelry accusing the police of willingness to permanently deprive him of the said properties.
Roberts now wants the court to declare that the ‘unreasonable withholding’ of his mother’s jewelry by the police is a violation of his right to against deprivation of property, an order directing the police to return the said jewelry, an order awarding monetary compensation, legal and administrative cost of D200,000 and other costs.