Former President Yahya Jammeh Potomac Villa in Maryland in the United States should be surrendered to the Gambia Government.
By Alagi Yorro Jallow
Mamudu: I read from social media that United States Judge has finally ruled in favor of the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture (AFP), which encompasses the seizure and forfeiture of property representing former President Yahya Jammeh Potomac Manson in Maryland in the United States.
I did not read the substantive ruling issued by the US judge. However, any recovered and returned loot from former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh nationally and internationally should be returned and kept in a special account at the Central Bank of the Gambia. In any evidence that Yahya Jammeh stole the money from the statutory allocation from the Gambia Government treasury after the revenue accruing to the Gambia as a whole, it, rightly, can be assumed that the money or personal property of Yahya Jammeh recovered belong to the people of Gambia.
However, following the recovery of personal property of Yahya Jammeh by the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture ( AFP), The Gambia government should immediately request the restitution of the recovered property from the United States Department of Justice any other movable and immovable property of former president Yahya Jammeh forfeited by the Department of States of Justice located Potomac Villa in Maryland in the United States of America.
Mamudu: The Gambia government should also facilitate the US in expediting restitution and the transfer of ownership of any personal property of Yahya Jammeh. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice must immediately enable diplomat and legal matters in return for the personal property of Yhaya Jammeh based on agreement with the US Justice Department. The private property ought to be owned and kept by the Gambia Government.
The Potomac villa property of Yahya Jammeh’s movable property does not belong to the United States alone; it belongs to the Gambia Government. So, suppose money or movable property were taken away from the Government Account and recovered must be returned to the people of the Gambia. In that case, any money must go to the Consolidated Account of the Gambia Government, and any immovable personal property must be transferred to Gambia Government ownership. Therefore, it cannot be the property of the United States Department of Justice Assets and Forfeiture (AFP) property instead of that of the Gambia Government alone.
President Yahya Jammeh’s movable and immovable assets are concerned; any money also forfeited by the USA does not belong to the United States Government, so the United States cannot use Yahya Jammeh’s loot. Therefore, the US Government must be ready to return the personal property of former President Jammeh since it has been legally recovered.
Mamudu: I, however, do welcome the receipt of recovering the personal property of former President Jammeh, urging the Gambia Government to recover more looted funds. However, any money and other personal assets of Yahya Jammeh and his dependents should be returned to the Gambia Government. Furthermore, all movable and immovable property ownership must be surrendered to the Gambia. However, we are too unserious to generate a debate or a constitutional question out of it and make a case for the personal property or money forfeited by the United States Justice Department according to the prescription of the law.
Through diplomacy and legal means, the Gambia Government ought to have challenged the United States Department of Justice to determine whether recovered loots to the former president Jammeh returned immediately and should be returned to the Gambia Government alone.
Suppose the question is determined in favor of the property belonging to the entire country. In that case, the Gambia government can, in the legal action, obtain an order of mandamus compelling the United States Department of Justice to return the Potomac property to the Gambia government.
However, while the Gambia government is bound to honor its international agreements, any arrangement that was at variance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Gambia was null and void. The Gambia must not break its laws. No external sovereign can compel the Gambia to violate its laws willfully.
The chief concern of the country returning Yahya Jammeh’s loot is that the former president’s money and personal property be prudently spent and not re-looted. My view is that there should not be any conflict between prudently and lawfully returning the property. The property can still be prudently returned if lawfully expended.
Since Yahya Jammeh stole the money from the Gambia, not from the United States alone, the Potomac villa in Maryland is property to The Gambia? Is it the exclusive property of the Republic of the Gambia Government? If the answer is negative, can the Gambia Government, acting not alone, owning the Potomac property? Shouldn’t the property’s ownership be surrendered to the Gambia Government’s extant assets and property management?
Mamudu: The argument that the personal property of former President Yahya Jammeh could be stolen at the states level, like the “Paris Club refund “is a valid reason for short-circuiting the restitution process. The money used to purchase the property at Potomac villa in Maryland in the United States was stolen from the Gambia. It should return to The Gambia. And to the Republic of Gambia.