By Abdoulie John
Right2Know Coalition is making big push for an increased transparency in the Semlex contract. Amid huge controversy, the Belgian company reached a deal with the Gambia government becoming the sole producer of biometric passports, ID and voters cards.
“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,” the civil society group said Thursday in a statement issued at a presser held at Gambia Press Union (GPU) headquarters in Kanifing.
Semlex has been under fire for alleged involvement in corruption scandals and money laundering. The company’s offices in Brussels were raided by law renforcement officers as investigation was launched into the supplier of biometric products.
Right2Know Coalition expressed concerns over ‘contradictory public pronouncements’ made by some government officials linked with the outsourcing of the contract to Semlex.
Jeggan Grey-Johnson, a prominent figure of Right2Know Coalition, made it clear that Semlex was part and parcel of the state capture under the Jammeh regime.
Former Gambian minister Sidi Sanneh, who is also a member of Right2Know Coalition, spilled the beans about Semlex. He exposed how Semlex was involved in ‘unethical practices’ that prompted some African countries (Mozambique, Comoros) to put a halt to their contract.
National Assembly Member for Serrekunda West, Hon. Madi MK Ceesay, told journalists that investigation is underway after Semlex was confronted with allegations of malpractices.
Hon. Ceesay, who threw his support behind R2K, said the Gambia government will risk being blackmailed if Semlex is indicted.
He wondered why the Gambia would associate itself with a company that has lost credibility at the international level.
Meanwhile, the Gambia’s Information Minister, Demba Ali Jawo, told reporters Wednesday that government has amended some clauses of the contract and that Semlex has to provide feedback before starting the production of passports and ID cards.