By Mustapha Darboe
The Interior minister has denied allegations that he has given a biometric national identification card project to Semlex Company in exchange for an unspecified amount of dollars.
Mai Ahmed Fatty, who held an hour press conference with journalists at his new office building along the Bertil Harding Highway, said the contract with Semlex which was signed by Yahya Jammeh’s government was terminated by executive directives.
Fatty said if the ‘illegal termination’ of the contract with Semlex has not been properly taken care of, government would be obliged to pay US$100 million.
“I have not been bribed and if anybody has any evidence to show that I am bribed, then I welcome anybody from anywhere in the world to come and show that,” he said.
He said even Jammeh’s Justice ministry had advised him not to go ahead with the rather unorthodox termination of the contract with Semlex given the legal implication it could have.
“And so we did not want to go through another adjudication process when Jammeh’s own Justice minister is telling us don’t,” he added.
Mai said the Gambian-owned Pristine company has never applied to his office to bid for making of The Gambia’s identification cards.
Minister Fatty, a popular barrister and leader of the Gambia Moral Congress, has recently been at the centre of many corruption allegations mostly by Gambians online.
A more recent allegation was that of the building of a forensic lab in the country, a contract that his critics claimed has brought him significant kickbacks from the contractors.
Others said the contract is a misplaced priority given the dire economic situation in this country.
However, Fatty said Gambia government has not put a single butut in the establishment of that US$48 million forensic lab.
“The Gambia government has not contributed a butut to the forensic lab scheme. It is purely a private investment by a private investor who came to The Gambia on his own volition without an invitation from anybody. The real name for it is Centre for Diagnostic and Molecular Science Research,” he said.
“This is a company with private investors who are identifiable. The US$48 million is an estimate which was provided by a private company headed by a molecular scientist Dr Sheikh Tijan Sey.”
Fatty said the land will be allocated by government and the centre will serve as both a research centre and forensic lab.
The ministry also addressed many other issues such as prison reforms initiatives they are working on and salary increment plans for service personnel.