By Makutu Manneh
Ms Fatoumatta M. Saho, Internal Auditor at Basse Area Council, has informed the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that the General Council rejected their findings on Finance Director Suso about collecting council’s revenue from ‘Collectors’ before depositing it at the bank.
“There were some Councilors supporting the Finance Director but other Councilors wanted to take the matter to court. The majority of the Councilors rejected the report and they did not base it on any ground,” she said.
According to her, some of the Councilors were backing the Finance Director due to the relationship they had with him. She recalled that in 2021, they came to know that some revenue collectors were directly giving money to the Finance Director after collection.
Saho further testified that the CEO once called her to his office and showed her a screen relating to the revenue collection device, adding that the CEO told her that Muhammed Suso, Maku Manneh, Sorri Sillah, Basamba Jawneh, all revenue collectors had collected that particular day but failed to deposit.
Ms Saho said she called these people to her office and asked them why they were doing that and in response, they informed her that the Finance Director was their boss and they were just doing what he asked them to do.
“I went back to the CEO and informed him about this and he gave the internal audit the go-ahead to do an audit but the General Council rejected it,” she said.
“The Chairman of the Audit Office wanted to resign that day but the CEO and the Council’s Chairman told him he should not resign and he should be patient as they will adopt the report,” she revealed.
She told the Commission that since that day, the report was never taken back to the General Council while further testifying that another audit report was presented to the General Council about their observations in the Council.
Ms Saho further informed the Commission that the Finance Department brought in vouchers that did not have invoices, no GPPA form, or what the payments were for.
She said no pre-auditing was done, alleging that the Finance Department would spend and later bring the receipt to them.
She further alleged that for cash power and credit, they would only put the receipt there without any claims or any pre-auditing.
“They were ignoring my Unit,” she said.
She added that they also observed that customers never signed invoices while salaries were also prepared late.
Ms Saho informed the Commission that prior to the coming of Finance Director Suso, salaries were paid on time but since he came, they always received their salaries the following month.
She informed the Commission that it is more than four months without salaries being paid.
Furthermore, Saho said most of the payments are made without a copy of the Cheque and the Finance Department would bring that to the Audit Unit, but added that whenever this happens, she will always return the Cheque. She said when she does that they sometimes come back with the Cheque but sometimes they don’t.
Also, she said the Director of Finance does pre-financing as he normally takes his own money to pay for the Council’s services and later asks for a refund.
“He will do this without informing me and he only informed me when he said he made the payment and I told him if he does pre-finance I will not stamp or sign,” he said.
“Hence he is the one helping the Council financially he is richer than the Council,” she posited.
She said they noticed that some staff had different names in different documents, which is not safe, especially when it comes to salary, “because one document has another name while another document has another.”
She further told the Inquiry that claims are made in the names of certain people without their consent, saying “When you ask these people they will say they are not aware and it is not theirs.” She said it was the Finance Director who raised these payments.
Meanwhile, the Local Government Commission of Inquiry was established to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the local government councils with a view of enhancing transparency and accountability in the councils. The Commission of Inquiry is doing a holistic and fair review of the Financial and Administrative operations of the Councils.