Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou and his Solicitor General Cherno Manneh have been accused of trying to lure the Registrar of Companies at the AG Chambers Lawyer Lamin Touray to obstruct a high court judgment, which had declared that Slok Nigeria Limited and FIB Group Limited Gambia are the owners of the regional bank and not Lilium Grays Limited and Lilium Holdings Limited respectively. The High Court in Banjul had awarded damages in the tune of one million dalasis (D1,000,000 dalasis) for the breach of the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) particularly clause 3.1.1 to the plaintiffs. It also awarded a court cost of D50,000 to Slok Nigeria and FIB Group Gambia Limited respectively.
The accusation was made by Lawyer Lamin Touray, during an interview with Freedom Radio Gambia, which will be aired on Tuesday. Touray has alleged that Messrs. Tambadou and Marena had wanted him to reinforce a letter, he had earlier written to the Central Bank of Sierra Leonean and The Sierra Leonean Attorney General to confirm the shareholdership of the defendants to the FIB Bank Group Gambia Limited.
The High Court in Banjul had already delivered a judgment on the matter at the time of Touray making his statement. He said he was not aware that the matter was in court or a judgment had been delivered.
He also said prior to his refusal to execute Tambadou and Marena’s request to reinforce his previous letter on the matter, he was asked by Amie Bensouda’s law firm to authenticate the shareholdership of their client Lilium Grays Limited to the FIB Group Limited Gambia, which he did in writing. Touray maintains that the Bensouda Law firm never inform him that the request being made was a subject of legal litigation or court judgment.
Touray said he acted based on the request made by Bensouda’s law firm for information about the shareholdership of their client Lilium Grays Limited in respect to FIB Group Gambia Limited. He tells Freedom Radio Gambia that he never knew that the High Court had already delivered a judgment on the case. Notwithstanding, he went ahead to confirm to Bensouda’s law firm that Lilium Grays Limited was a shareholder of FIB Bank Group Gambia Limited.
Bensouda’s law firm is the lawyer for one of the defendants Lilium Grays Limited. Lilium Grays Limited is an American affiliated company, according to Lawyer Touray. The other defendant in the matter is Lilium Holdings Limited, a European company.
Touray had in the past written to the Central Bank of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leone’s Attorney General to confirm to them about the shares the two defendants owned in the bank. He later rescinded his letters after it was brought to his attention that the High Court had decided that Lilium Grays Limited and Lilium Holdings Limited, no longer possesses shares with the bank.
Gambia’s Solicitor General Cherno Marena immediately wrote to the Bank in Sierra Leone and Sierra Leonean AG to counter Touray’s revocation of his original statement. Touray alleged that he was under increasing pressure from Tambadou and Marena to side with the defendants.
He claimed that he told Tambadou and Marena that any attempt to subvert or interfere with the ruling of the High Court might amount to obstruction of justice. He also showed them a letter from the Sheriff in Banjul instructing him to enforce the High’s court judgment on the matter in question.
Touray nearly found himself in trouble with the lawyers representing the plaintiffs. He said both Lawyer Ida Drammeh, and Emmanuel Chime threatened to file contempt proceedings against him. He was told by the plaintiffs lawyers that it was wrong for him to write a letter opposing the ruling of the High Court.
But Touray said he told Mrs. Drammeh and Chime that he was not aware that the matter in question was in court. He also said he merely responded to a request made by the opposing counsel’s law firm to confirm the ownership of the bank.
Touray, who has been working with the Justice Ministry for the past thirteen years, contends that if there should be any contempt proceedings to be filed, it should be filed against AG Baa Tambadou and SG Cherno Marena. He alleged that Tambadou and Marena had clearly sided with Amie Bensouda’s law firm—insisting that the actions of the duos amount to obstruction of justice. He further contends that the case in question concerns private companies and not The Gambian state.
Hence, Touray said, he doesn’t understand what special interest Tambadou and Marena had in this matter. He said AG Tambadou went as far as telling him that Cabinet had given its blessings for the Justice Ministry to intervene into the case. He says Tambadou never shown him any documentation from Cabinet to confirm his assertions.
When Touray refused to execute Tambadou and Marena’s orders to reinforce a request made by Bensouda’s law firm about their client’s ownership of the bank, he said, he was suspended from work for one week without pay. He was also asked to relocate to the Criminal Division of the Justice Ministry. He was never told under what capacity, he would be working in that unit of the Justice Department.
Touray’s refusal to vacate his office had resulted in the Justice Ministry calling the police on him. He was evicted from his office. His official car was also taken away from him.
This follows, a landmark judgment delivered in favor of the plaintiffs on April 11th, 2017 by Justice M.U Okou of the High Court. Justice Okou had entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs against the defendants jointly and severally and orders as follows:
That the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) between the plaintiffs and the defendants dated 26th day pf November 2015 be terminated forthwith on account of: a. The defendants breach of the SPA particularly clause 3.1.1 thereof.
- Pursuant to relief 1 above, an order that the deeds of Share Transfer for which Capital Gains Tax was paid to by the defendants in the name of the plaintiffs (without the prior knowledge or consent of the plaintiffs) bearing Serial Registration Number 42/2016/VOL.23 MD and SRN43/2016 Vol.23 MD respectively be delivered up for cancellation and hereby cancelled.
- An injunction hereby granted restraining the defendants and each of them by themselves, their servants, agents or whoever on their behalf from parading or continuing to parade themselves as owners of the 2nd plaintiff or majority of the Shares of the 2nd plaintiff.
- A declaration hereby granted and ordered that any purported change of the Directors of the 2nd Plaintiff since the signing of the SPA to date effected by the defendants in the company registry in the Ministry of Justice, Marina Parade Banjul, The Gambia, without a resolution of the original Directors is null and void and of no effect.
- A declaration hereby granted and ordered that the Directors of the 2nd Plaintiff prior to any purported change of Directorship of the 2nd Plaintiff effected by the defendants since the signing of the SPA remains the authentic Directors of the 2nd plaintiff and remain so in the absence of their prior resignation or resolution by them to the contrary.
- The plaintiffs are awarded damages in the sum of D1,000,000 for breach of the SPA particularly clause 3.1.1
- Cost of D50,000 is awarded against the defendants jointly and severally.
Touray said it was on May 10th, 2018, that he was approached by a staffer of Bensouda’s law firm to authenticate the ownership of Lilium Grays Limited to the FIB Group Gambia. He never bothered to ask about the motives behind the law firm’s inquiry. He just provided them with information in the form of a letter—by deposing that Lilium Grays was a shareholder of the Bank.
It turns out that the High Court had already adjudicated the matter in a judgment dated April 11th, 2017.
Lawyer Touray says he had written letters of protest to the Chief Justice of The Gambia Assan Jallow and Ebrima Camara, Gambia’s Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service. He says he had protested against Tambadou and Marena’s move to indulge him into illegality, which he says, could land him into trouble with the law.
He has also copied his letter of protest to The Inspector General of police and the Director General of the State Intelligence Services.
For more on the story, tune into Freedom Radio Gambia’s Tuesday program.
Bensouda’s law firm could not be reached for comment.
Justice Minister Baa Tambadou was contacted for comment, but his cellular phone appeared to be switched off.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai
Below are some of the documents pertaining the said case in possession of the Freedom Newspaper.