By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT January 13, 2022
The Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) released a general council resolution dated 11th January 2022 calling on President Adama Barrow “to direct the Minister” of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs “to desist from his current cause of action” which the KMC describes as “an impediment to the efforts of the council to serve the best interests of the people of KMC”.
KMC Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda is an executive member of the United Democratic Party which is the main opposition to President Adama Barrow’s National People’s Party (NPP). The Minister of Land, Regional Government and Religious Affairs assisted President Barrow in his successful campaign to win his second term in office. In fact, the Lands Minister is alleged to have induced traditional leaders with money in the UDP Petition against the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) results of the 4th December 2021
Presidential Elections in favour of President Barrow in which UDP lose the case due to technicalities.
The actual corruption saga involving KMC gained public attention in July 2021 when KMC Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda held a press briefing alleging that his Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mrs Sainabou Martin Sonko and Director of Finance Dr Alieu Keita, hatched a fraudulent scam involving D12 million GMD.
Speaking about the investigation on the D12 million believed to have been lodged in AGIB Bank, Mayor Bensouda says “it was discovered that Mrs Sonko entered illegal transactions without lawful authority to the tune of D12,000,000. These illegal transactions were completed with the co-signature of the Director of Finance Dr Alieu Keita,” he said.
In the wake of the scandal the Deputy Mayor tendered his resignation to the Mayor which was accepted. It is not clear if Deputy Mayor
Musa Bah’s resignation is a result of his involvement in the D12 million scam. The aforementioned General Council Resolution dated 11th January 2022 noted that the Ministry of Lands “by letter dated 3rd August 2021, sent inspectors to the Council to investigate the report made by the Mayor and several other matters.
The Council welcomed such inspection and prepared to cooperate fully with inspectors while it continues to conduct its affairs in an open and transparent manner. Unfortunately, to date the Council has not received any correspondence, communication or conclusions relating to the said inspection.”
Explaining some of the steps taken by the Council amidst all the wait the KMC Resolution notes that “the Council has by letter dated 3rd August 2021 informed the Minister to respect the legal process and principles of good governance to allow the mandated authorities to carry out their constitutional mandates in respect of the alleged fraud as well as to refrain from unduly interfering with the report made by the Council against the CEO. The continued interference of the Minister in protecting the CEO and preventing due process has significantly impeded the administration of Council”.
The KMC Resolution “further considers the terms of reference of the purported Commission to be outside the scope allowed to the Minister given that it is unrelated to the report by Council”. Due to the points outlined above the Resolution urged “the Minister to comply with the Local Government Act and cease all his interference with the processes commenced against Council staff since July 2021” and “questions the legitimacy of the said Commission of Enquiry and the good faith of the Minister of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs, Musa Drammeh.”
The KMC Resolution further impressed “on the President of the Republic, His Excellency Adama Barrow, to direct the Minister to desist from his current cause of action which is an impediment to the efforts of the Council to serve the best interests of the people of KMC”. In an indication that there is more to come the letter advice that “the Lord Mayor shall communicate the concerns of the Council to His Excellency President Barrow in due course”.
Signaling their intention to commence legal proceedings the KMC Resolution pledges to “instruct retained Counsel to commence legal action on behalf of the Council to look at the legitimacy of the purported Commission and ensure that the rights and interests of the people of KMC are fully protected and that the rule of law shall prevail”.