Gambia: Pristine Consulting sues Gambia Gov’t

By Gambian Correspondent – Pristine Consulting Company, a local consulting IT firm contracted by the Gambia government for the production of Biometric Identity Cards, has sued the government for breach of contract at the High Court in Banjul before Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle.

Pristine instituted a civil suit against the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, as 1st defendant, and the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, as 2nd defendant.

The company is, among others, claiming US$437,798.00 (four hundred and thirty seven thousand seven hundred and ninety eight US dollars) being infrastructure costs agreed to be paid in a contract between Pristine Consulting and the Government of The Gambia.

Also D26, 850,897.00 (twenty-six million, eight hundred and fifty thousand eight hundred and ninety seven dalasi) being the contractual deficit based on the minimum sums guaranteed under the contract and the actual documents produced as at 31st March 2010.

And an additional D18,865,717.00 (eighteen million, eight hundred and sixty-five thousand seven hundred and seventeen dalasi) being the contractual deficit based on the minimum sums guaranteed under the contract and the actual documents produced as at 31st March 2011.

At the hearing of the suit yesterday, the plaintiff’s counsel, Ida Drammeh, drew the court’s attention to order 23 as amended, adducing that the state has not yet complied with the rules of the court order 23 rule 16.

“I have not been served with the defendant’s counter claim. I submit that we could not do more as the state had failed to comply with the rules of the court, and if there was going to be an application from the defendant, I will responsed,” she told the court.

The defendants represented by the Director of Special Litigations, Daniel O. Kulo, acknowledged that the state had over a substantial duration not completed complying with the rules of the court, which demand the defendant to file a statement of defence.

DSL Kulo, however, told the court that in compliance with that order, the defendant had filed statements of defense, and what was left was the deposition of the affidavit to be sworn and sign by staff of the Ministry of Finance, who would also tender documents relevant to the matter.

He said the Permanent Secretary No.2 was assigned to do that, but was said to be out of the jurisdiction.

“The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance came to my office, and Permanent Secretary No.2 would be coming as defense witness but has travelled out of the jurisdiction. I have to wait till PS2 was back so that the affidavit can be made in his presence, signed and taken to the commissioner of oaths,” he added.

He, therefore, applied for an adjournment so that proper documents and information could be filed before the court.

Ida Drammeh rose and intimated that the court could only grant an application to comply with the rules of the court, but not an adjournment because the person who should signed and swore has travelled.

“It was not proper to have an adjournment because the person had travel. We are objecting to the application for adjournment, the defendant cannot come to court and say someone has travelled who should swear to an affidavit.”

D.O. Kulo also rose and said the timeframe was still valid for the defendant to file the information.

Hearing of the matter was extended to 26th May 2011 for mention.

Readers would be recalled that Pristine Consulting, its CEO and the company’s chief technology officer, were also charged with two counts of economic crimes.

They were accused by the Gambia government of stealing, and of withholding the Gambia government’s share of over 27 million dalasis (over twenty seven million dalasi) when engaged by the government to produce the biometric national identity cards and other official documents.

Abdourahman Touray, the company’s CEO has left the jurisdiction, but Hassan Touray, the chief technology officer, was recently at the high court where he was granted bail of 10 million dalasi, which he was reportedly unable to fulfill, and is presently remanded in custody at the State Central Prison at Mile 2.

He was present at yesterday’s court proceedings, as a plaintiff.