FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Gambia: Parliamentarians and civil society ask legislature to open inquiry into obscure contract awarded to Belgium company-
Banjul, 19 April 2018- The decision by the Gambia government to award a single-source contract to produce national biometric IDs, passports and voter IDs, to Semlex, is being questioned by two of Gambia’s parliamentarians and Right to Know Coalition. And we maintain, as we did in our letter to the National Assembly leadership, on 21st March 2018, through the Clerk, (which we have not received a reply), ‘that Gambians are eager to know the facts and assumptions on whether due process was followed in awarding our vital social possessions (passports and IDs) to an opaque company whose reputation is questionable.’
Mr. Eric Van der Sijpt, Belgium lead prosecutor, has confirmed to R2K that there is an ongoing investigation into Semlex activities. Media reports also state that there is a criminal probe into Semlex and its operations, and that a case against Semlex CEO, over money laundering, and other corrupt practices is ongoing. Semlex’s computers, files, and other materials have since been sealed, and confiscated to aid in the investigations.
We further maintain that this a company, that Gambia government awarded a contract, which was immersed in illegality from the onset. The contract flouted all the procurement rules, and was initiated and birthed by corrupt officials of the Jammeh regime. We are shocked that the current government is now determined to uphold and execute this contract, despite all the evidence of the political exposure and high risk associated with Semlex. We are equally disturbed by the Barrow Administration’s insistence at entrusting our most precious assets to this company- putting at risk our identification documents, our reputation and integrity of our national identities, and the tools we hold dear as citizens to elect and select who governs us and how we wish to be governed- our voters’ cards.
We are further perturbed by contradictory public pronouncements uttered by certain ministers and public officials who were involved in the outsourcing of our individual and collective assets, using an avenue of secrecy to scuttle public scrutiny.
R2K-Gambia, as a collective of over 4,500 members, will test the vibrancy of our new found democracy in the New Gambia, by sending a message to economic predators and corrupt state officials, that the era of state capture, repurposing of state resources for pecuniary gain, flouting of public procurement processes, and disregard for the respect of the rule of law and good governance is over.
And as a result, we make this public appeal to the National Assembly to put a motion forward for an inquiry, pass the motion and get to work for the integrity and security of The Gambia, as the credibility of the National Assembly depends on it.
Elevating a culture of transparency and accountability depends on it, which is why the NAMS must start entrenching a practice of probity, before it is defeated and overwhelmed by impunity, which threatens our national security.
About Right 2 Know Gambia (R2K-Gambia):
Right 2 Know- R2K Gambia, started its work in October 2016, when it commenced work around elections integrity on the then, now famed Presidential elections, which ousted Jammeh from power. Our membership/following has since grown to 4,500 people. The founders are a grouping of individuals with professional backgrounds ranging from geology, demographics, economics, international relations and law, communications, and academia. All members are human rights activists. We are located in US, UK, West and Southern Africa. We are a non-partisan entity that focuses on rule of law and democracy, good governance, human rights and the principles of access to information.