Unless he apologises and retracts comments within ten days
By Lamin Cham
Lawyers representing Amie Bensouda, mother of KM mayor Talib Bensouda has written to former APRC Ebo-Town councillor Momodou Lamin Badjie demanding a public apology and a retraction of comments he is said to have made against her at a recent press conference.
According to the lawyers from Farage and Andrew Chambers, Mr Badjie is said to have made the following statement at the said press conference: “The Kanifing Municipal Councill took a loan from AGIB Bank where [Talib Ahmed Bensouda’s] mother has shares. This is why I said that Talib used the council known as a business venture for his family. The mother has shares at AGIB Bank and he used that [sic] shares as a collateral to secure a loan for them to finance the Mbalit project.”
Amie Bensouda’s lawyers said Mr Badjie is at all times fully aware of the falsity of his statement which they said is deliberate attempt to damage their client’s well-earned reputation, given that there are public records as to who the shareholders of AGIB Bank are and who does business with the Kanifing Municipality. The lawyers demanded Badjie cease and desist from making defamatory statements against their client among other demands.
The full text of the letter reads: As you may be aware our client is a well renowned senior advocate in The Gambia and represents amongst others local companies and businesses as well as international public corporations and organisations both within and outside of The Gambia. Additionally, our client is also a well-respected business woman in the community with exceptional integrity and public standing. Our client is a respected professional in the community and amongst her peers. She has spent decades in her capacity as a legal practitioner in building a positive reputation and in serving her community. Our client has instructed us that you have engaged in spreading false, destructive, and defamatory statements about her. You must be aware that it is unlawful to engage in defamation of another’s character and reputation. Defamation consists of a statement that tends to injure reputation; communicated to another; and that the speaker knew or should have known was false…In particular, our instructions are that your defamatory statements involve false statements you knowingly, intentionally and/or recklessly made at a press conference held on 7th March 2023, where all media outlets in the country were present. The media conference was also streamed live and published to millions online on Youtube and Facebook amongst other social media outlets. You stated thus: They [Kanifing Municipal Councill took a loan from AGIB Bank, a bank where his [Talib Ahmed Bensouda’s] mother has shares. This is why I said that Talib used Council you know as a business venture for his family. The mother has shares at AGIB Bank and he used that [sic] shares as a collateral to secure a loan for them to finance the mbalit project. You were at all times fully aware of the falsity of your statement and the same was a deliberate attempt to damage our client’s well-earned reputation, given that there are public records as to who the shareholders of AGIB Bank are and who does business with the Kanifing Municipality. Our client’s further instruction is that your defamatory statements were malicious and false and targeted to mislead the public to believe that our client used her personal resources to transact with a public entity in order to profit from public resources. The statement attempts to taint our client as someone engaged in corruption with a public entity. As a consequence, these statements form part of the world wide public record and will cause irreparable harm to our client’s reputation and professional interests. Accordingly, our client demands that you immediately cease and desist your unlawful defamation of our client; provide us with prompt written apology and assurance within five (5) days that you will cease and desist from further defamation of our client’s character and reputation; and make a public apology at a press conference within 10 days retracting the statement made on 7th March 2023. If you do not comply within this time period stated, our client is entitled to seek monetary damages and equitable relief for your defamation. In the event you fail to meet this demand, please be advised that our client has asked us to communicate to you that she will pursue all available legal remedies, including seeking monetary damages, which our client will be seeking in the sum of GMD100 Million (One Hundred Million Gambian Dalasis), injunctive relief, and an order that you pay all legal and administrative costs associated with the course of action. Your liability and exposure under such legal action could be considerable. Before taking these steps, however, my client wished to give you one opportunity to discontinue your illegal conduct by complying with this demand within Ten (10) days. We urge that you consult with a legal practitioner as to the contents herein and the gravity of the matter.’’
When contacted for his reaction, Badjie said: “Yes, I have received the letter but the comments in question were contained in a statement I read at a press conference organised by the association of former KM councillors, of which I am the secretary general. I have read the letter and informed the association accordingly so we are meeting today to discuss the issue and make a final decision.”