The Standard has laid hands on a letter written by legal representatives of Securiport asking the Secretary General to investigate the many government official sources that may have given information to Malagen in their investigative report on the controversial airport security fee.
The letter, which was written by Gomez Law Chambers, said the actions of the government officials have had a serious implication on the reputation of Securiport which was lawfully and transparently executing the agreement between it and government.
The letter continues: “Given my Client’s concerns about the recent actions from the media, it is important to express their objections on the treatment and damaging actions undertaken by government representatives.
The National Auditing Office (NAO), The Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Justice, and previous DG of the GCAA, Mr. Abdoulle Jammeh have all been involved in the process of this agreement, and hereunder our concerns:
1. Minister of Tourism
The Honourable Hamat Bah, the current Minister of Tourism, uttered on national television damaging remarks about the “security fee” and “Securiport airport services” and has now created an impasse at BIA where passengers are refusing / objecting to pay the security fee as quoted. The Minister of Tourism himself does not approve of this fee*. Securiport has operated according to the agreement with the Government of the Gambia that was executed lawfully and in full transparency. As a company, the Client partnership with the government has been based on the understanding that the Government responsibility was to inform traveler’s departing and arriving from the Gambia about the security fee benefits. The Public Private Partnership between my Client and the Government of Gambia aimed to ease the capital intense obligations of making the Banjul International Airport efficient and secure. The Minister of Tourism who was in agreement with the Agreement, has now cast my Client in negative light in the public domain to the extent of criticizing the security fee decision that has been implemented through due process.
During the same interview, the words of the honorable Minister of Tourism has created business and reputational harm by additionally stating false and baseless claims that the Sierra Leone government, a Securiport client, has cancelled their contract. Such unfounded and untrue comments have serious business implications especially when it implicates a third-party country where the contract is effective and successfully implemented.
My Client is appealing to your honorable office to find a resolution regarding the incorrect utterances of the Minister of Tourism broadcasted on National television, which have now become part of a libelous media report.
2. National Auditing Office
From the outset, it was apparent that the journalist from Malagen Media had a source at the National Auditing Office providing the journalist confidential information related to the agreement between my Client and the Government. The journalist contacted my Client with questions that were not public including the audit conducted by the NAO and referencing terms of the contract, which can only be available to those who have a copy of the contract. The journalist “investigative Report” negatively positioned my Client. The accusations made in this journalist report, now circulating online, and in the overall local media are untrue, unfounded, and libelous.
My Client appeals to your honorable office to investigate further in this case to identify the NAO source who provided the journalist this information to be used against my Client and certain Government officials of the Gambia including the President’s Office. Such actions undermine the Government and the validity of our lawful agreement as it also compromises the National Security of the Gambia. The journalist’s source who apparently works at the NAO has collaborated against my Client to tarnish its reputation. If such incorrect and detrimental information is not publicly corrected immediately, it is going to cause reputational damages to Securiport’s image.
3. Previous DGGCAA – Mr. Abdoulle Jammeh
It is regrettable that Mr. Jammen who never objected to the awarding of the contract and played an integral role in the set-up of the collection services at the Banjul International Airport, has now backtracked his support for my Client in the falsified investigative Report. When such recognized Senior ex-Civil Servant voices incorrect and unfounded facts on a Media platform, it has grave consequences for my Client that has invested in the infrastructure, technology and job creation in the Gambia and to the Government that has been building up the airport to meet International Standards.
My Client appeals to your honorable office to discuss further the false statements made by Mr. Jammeh who should be held liable and accountable for the accusatory and misleading public statements especially when serving as a member of the government.
4. Senior Member of Ministry of Justice (Mol)
It is regrettable that an esteemed ministry such as the Ministry of Justice has been brought into the fray by comments / interviews given by “unnamed” Senior Officers of the Ministry. Albeit there are no mentions of names, my Client is concerned about the collusion of unknown sources from various ministries, Including the Mol, that have commented against the “security fee” and transparently awarded contract.
The inaccurate and erroneous comments by officers of Government have consequently placed my Client under scrutiny. My Client appeals to your honorable office to remedy the situation with Senior members of the Mol.
With this letter, my Client respectfully requests your honorable office to open an internal investigation to determine the sources who have provided the journalist a series of false claims, unsubstantiated assertions, and incorrect statements. My Client calls for your intervention with the Minister of Tourism, previous DGGCAA and State employees that have participated in this maligned, malicious, and libelous article published by Malagen Media, Standard Newspaper, Fatou Network, Whats on Gambia, to name a few. The reputational damage caused to my Client will have major impact on its business and global operations.
My Client is a respected company based in the United States of America that has always complied with US laws and regulations required of US companies doing business in foreign countries.
Securiport assures your esteemed office of its commitment to serving the people of The Gambia by continuing its customized civil aviation and immigrations security services to support the Government of the Gambia efforts to keep passengers safe and airport secure.”
The Standard contacted Lawyer Edu Gomez of the Gomez Law Chambers on the authenticity of the letter but he said: ”Are you sure you have seen this letter or you are just speculating? You seem not to have your facts right. What is on the letterhead? As a journalist you should get your facts right.”
The Standard told him that we have seen the letter, but Mr Gomez maintained that since our reporter could not tell him what was on the letterhead, he could only be speculating.
Asked if he has seen the letter, Malagen reporter who investigated the contract Mustapha K Darboe, said: “I have read the letter that the Securiport wrote to the SG but there is nothing in its content to respond to. It merely says the report is ‘untrue’, ‘unfounded’ and ‘libelous’.
It did not pick on any specific issue in the report. No one can fact-check such a generalized statement that does not address issues in specific detail. If they had been specific on what is wrong in the story, then we could reply to that.
With regard to the request that they have made to the SG to investigate me andidentify my source at the National Audit Office, the SG should have simply informed them President Adama Barrow has just signed into law the Access to Information Act which basically requires the government to do pro-active disclosure of information. In a normal situation, if the contract is as transparent as they claim in that letter, they would not have been worried that I have a copy. There is nothing that threatens national security in that contract if made public. Why do they want to keep it asecret?”