By Sailu Bah
Mr. Diedrich was detained at the Immigration in Tanji since on Wednesday 14- Friday 16 January 2015. According to him, no reason was given for his detention. He had been to the Immigration Department to renew his alien’s registration when he was simply told by the Director General that he had to buy an air ticket and leave the country or be deported. According to a source, at 2pm on Friday he was driven from where he was detained at Tanji straight to the airport without allowing him to pass through Busumbala to collect his belongings. The source added that Mr Diedrich wanted to get in touch with his lawyer but he was not allowed to do so. Foroyaa got in touch with the PRO at Immigration for comments on the matter and he promised to get back to us but he has not done so.
Foroyaa reported last month that officials from the Physical Planning Department, accompanied by armed personnel from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU), demanded the keys of the said compound from Diedrich and Barry and then asked them to immediately vacate the place. The permanent secretary, ministry of lands said it was an executive directive. The executive directive is at variance with a court order that says that Diedrich is the lawful owner of the land and that no one whatsoever should interfere with it.
According to Bernd Georg Diedrich he came to The Gambia in 1989, and bought land at Tranquil Wullingkama for investment purposes. He leased the land in 1996 and the Gambian partner Alieu Barry erected a perimeter fence round the land which is 22,000 square metres.
He said when he returned to the Gambia in 2005 to implement his investment plans; he found that the land was encroached upon. He took legal action to acquire the land back and it took him seven years and finally got a judgment in his favour on the 2nd Oct 2012.
On the 2nd February2013 he and his partner were arrested and detained in Mile 2 but by 14th August 2013 the land was restored to him by the Sheriff Division.
This was however short-lived because on the 20th October 2014 he received a letter from the department of physical planning telling him to vacate his land and on 18 December 2014 officials from physical planning department backed by about a dozen personnel from the police intervention unit evicted him from his land.
While Mr Diedrich has the law on his side, he lacks justice because the state is acting contrary to the letter and spirit of the law. This is impunity. There is no way such attitude and actions can encourage foreign investment.