By Omar Bah
Less than two weeks after President Barrow said audit reports are opinions and that auditors can be biased, (sparking controversy) his adviser on cyber security Sulayman Camara, has criticised former Auditor General Karamba Touray, accusing him of failing to incorporate the Securiport Management Letter into the audit report as a tactic to target statehouse. He also said the audit report on Securiport is half-baked.
The NAO report on the award of contract to Securiport for the administrative and management of immigration security services at the Banjul International Airport has revealed several irregularities in the contract and recommended for it to be reviewed.
But reacting to the controversy, Camara said: “I will put emphasis on the Securiport. This entity employs over 120 Gambians, all paying taxes and social security. Any country that wants to prosper has to embrace investors, not arm chair investors. Securiport invested heavily on IT infrastructure at the airport. So for Karamba Touray to say that Securiport should just be replaced and all they do is collect money, shows that he is so ill-informed about the operation of the company and the IT infrastructure they rolled out at the airport.”
In February 2019, Camara went on, The Gambia Immigration Department in collaboration with Securiport started the implementation of the integrated immigration control system (IICS) that design and implement passenger biometric recognition processing and information management at the Banjul International Airport.
“The system can detect fraudulent documents, imposters, validity of visas and provides returns on statistics on arrival and departure of passengers. This system is synchronised with the international law enforcement agencies across the globe. So, to say that, they should just park up and leave is diabolical.
The IICS has fulfilled the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirements of Annex 9 for operating an international airport and facilitation provisions and support development for travelling passengers,” he added.
He said Securiport has also enrolled E-gate which is a self-enrolment by experienced travelers but the GID defines usage category for only Ecowas nationals for now.
“It allows the traveller to pass quickly and seamlessly through while still maintaining security. E-gates are self-service checkpoints that use the biometric data stored in a modern passport or ID cards to verify the identity of those passing through a checkpoint; it’s suitable for experienced travelers to enroll themselves without being assisted physically by an immigration officer. This is just to mention the few infrastructures rolled out by Securiport, not to mention the number of intercepts of criminal, fraudulent people and people of interest to the law enforcement agencies across the globe. So, to paint the government as not having the interest of the country at heart when signing this contract is actually false. Our nation needs critical investment to help our government stabilise youth unemployment,” he said.
Across the advanced world, he added, governments are the least employers as the private sector employs far greater numbers.
“We should encourage foreign investment, not discourage it. You see, The Gambia is one of the country’s where Securiport is making the least profit. What is our air transport passenger ratio compared to places like Senegal, Ivory Coast and Indonesia where they also operate? If they leave, it will be our Gambian brothers and sisters who will lose their jobs and the airport will be pros to criminals,” Camara said.
Barrow’s audit comments
“You see, we have to be honest to ourselves and the Gambian people. If you hold a public office, it is incumbent upon you to inform the citizenry correctly and accurately. Why was Karamba Touray not talking about these things when he was in office? Or was he unhappy that his contract was not renewed. His comments are a storm in a tea cup and full of innuendos. He was even comparing the former regime to this one by saying if this was in Jammeh’s time something will come out of this report but he forgot that the reason he was able to grant an interview is because this government has created the democratic space for people to express their opinions without fear.”
“The purpose of his comments was to soil the image of the government. Who in his right frame of mind will compare this regime and the former regime when it comes to accountability? So, his comments are misguided and completely preposterous. At the back drop of his comments, some detractors took it upon themselves to misconstrue the president’s statement that audit statements are opinions. An auditor’s report is a written letter from the auditor containing their opinion on whether a company’s financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and are free from material misstatement. So, those trying to misconstrue the statement of the president have nothing on him. This president is dedicated and committed to fighting corruption and this is evident in the mobilisation going on at our National Assembly where the minister of justice and the majority leader are working hand-in-glove to ensure the Anti-corruption Commission Bill is introduced and passed,” Camara said.