Lawyer Melville Robertson Roberts has sued the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General for refusing to return his mother’s and wife’s jewelleries worth over fifty thousand United States Dollars ($50,000).
According to the originating summons obtained by LamToro News, Melville brought the case pursuant to sections 22 and 37 of the Constitution seeking court enforcement of his fundamental human right. He said the police break into his bedroom and took those jewelleries as well as his personal properties – mobile phones and laptop computers.
He asked the high court to make an order directing the Inspector General of Police to immediately return the said jewellery items to him or pay the sum of 50,000 United States Dollars being the market value at the time for the said jewellery items. He wants the high court to make an order awarding him reasonable compensation for the arbitrary deprivation of his property by the Inspector General of Police.
Melville said it has almost been 3 years since the police illegally went away with his mother’s belongings and jewelleries comprising of gold silver pals, African beads and gold plated ornaments from his bedroom. He said he has various communications from different individuals within the police who all have confirmed at some point seeing bits and pieces of his belongings, his mother’s jewelleries, and that of his wife at the police station.
He said the jewelleries were accumulated for nearly eighty years of his mother’s life on earth and others she inherited from both her grandmother and mother.
“I believe that the police had no right whatsoever to make away with these items that had absolutely nothing to with their investigations,” he said.
He said he believe that the only reason why the police did not give his family an inventory copy of the items is that there was the willingness to permanently deprive him and his family of their belongings.
He said on his return to the Gambia, he found that the police made away with his wedding ring wolf three thousand United States Dollars ($3000), a gold chain with 1-carat diamond stone bought in Dubai for his wife, and also a pair of gold stud earrings that he bought for three hundred pounds sterling belonging to his daughter.
He said the worth of the jewelleries belonging to his mother and wife worth approximately $50,000 United State Dollars. He added that without the court intervention, the police will continue to deprive him and his family.
In his Affidavit, Melville said on the 28th of June 2019 after he had completed his instructions at the Oxford University, he had the privilege of giving the valedictory speech at the University. He explained that he posted the speech on his Facebook timeline around 6 pm and by the time he got home around 11 pm, his Facebook was overwhelmed with messages from friends and family wanting to know if he was fine while others were asking him to deactivate his Facebook account and other social media handles.
He said he later realised that a lady he met on Facebook and who he had met once went to Facebook and accused him of rape. “This later created a wave of accusations emanating from individuals some of whom I had never met,” he said. He said at some point they created a social media page Surviving Melville and a hashtag of the same was launched.
“I was the subject of all manner of vilification and brutal attacks the remnants of which continue to this day 3 years on,” he said. He said an online petition that he should be fired from his job and the Gambia Bar Association should revoke his license to practice as a lawyer was also launched.
“No formal complaint was made against me at this point at any police station within The Gambia or at the Ministry of Justice,” he said.
By Monday of that same week, he said the Attorney General reacting to the social media allegations had issued a press release on the matter and further instructed the police to constitute an investigations panel to look into the allegations.
He said the Foreign Ministry wrote a letter to him which was “deliberately” leaked to the press even though it carried bold prints of “highly confidential” at the top. He explained that the content of the letter was basically asking him to return home within 7 days to answer the social media allegations or his diplomatic passport will be declared null and void and the British authorities will be notified in other to have his visa revoked and be deported back to The Gambia.
“The letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was basically a very threatening letter and all this while there had not been any formal complaint lodged against me,” he said.
He said he responded to the Ministry’s letter that he was not obliged to answer to social media allegations and that he was on approved study leave without salary and not on the government payroll as alluded to in their letter. He added that he indicated in his response to the Ministry’s letter that he was not on an official mission abroad and thus cannot be recalled home as per the foreign service regulations and most especially when it is to return to answer to social media allegations that were baseless and unsubstantiated.
He said the press release from the Attorney General had inferred that the police were to carry out investigations into the allegations.
“I was further informed by my cousin (Mary Mensah) that the police had gone to my house, broke my bedroom down at around 10 pm at night, and took certain things from my room including two trinket boxes containing all my mother’s jewelleries that she had accumulated over the years,” he said.
He said the incident happened in the presence of his cousin and her husband adding the daughter too was a witness. He added that the police left without handing over any inventory of any sort to his cousin.
He said he was informed that the police went to his house the following night and went again into his room, but this time around they took his mobile phones, laptop computers, and his wife’s jewelleries. He added that his wife’s husband requested an inventory but the police refused to provide him with that.
He said he came to The Gambia in January 2020 and provided himself to the police to help them in their investigations. He gave a detailed explanation as to the struggles he made to get back his mother’s jewelleries during his two-month stay in the country, but the police wouldn’t give him. He said they were giving him the excuse that the custodian of the jewelleries was either absent or in a meeting. He added that his lawyers wrote to the police twice and got no response, but the third letter requesting his mother’s jewelleries was responded to and he was told that he should travel back to the Gambia.
He said he informed the police that he was not in a position to return home and that the jewelleries should be handed to his attorney, Neneh Gomez. He added that the attorney could not get the jewelleries.
He is asking the court to help him get back his belongings and that of his mother and wife because the police want to continue depriving him of his property.