Ex-officials of the Ministry of Agriculture who were dismissed by the Department of Agriculture, over the weekend told journalists in a press briefing that their dismissal of 10th June 2022 was the result of revealing some irregularities such as the occupation of public offices by out of contract retired officials among others.
The dismissed persons are: Musa Bojang, senior plant protection officer; Alhajie Gaye, agricultural assistant; Lamin Jaiteh, plant protection officer and Abubacarr Camara, agricultural officer.
Speaking at a Latrikunda Sabiji press briefing, Musa Bojang stated that: “Mr. Landing Sonko, the then director, retired in 2019, was given a contract until December 2020 but he continued to perform functions as the director of the Plant Protection Services and occupied the office facility throughout the year 2021 after expiry of his contract in 2020.”
“Mr. Sonko was forced to sign out two years after the end of his contract as the IPPC focal person in January 2022. This could have caused serious consequences for The Gambia as indicated by the ECOWAS SPS Officer during a workshop held in The Gambia.”
He continued that one Mr. Saja Konateh, assistant to the director, who retired in 2018 also continued to hold position in the project. Mr. Konateh remained to occupy the office and performed official functions of the project till March 2022.
After the expiry of Landing Sonko’s contract in 2020, he reiterated that senior officer Kebba Sarr should have been accorded officer in charge since December 2020 prior to the appointment of a new director.
He added that Mr. Sonko was forced to hand over to Mr. Kebba Sarr as officer in charge in December 2021 after Dr. Sanyang received urgent directives from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Why didn’t Dr. Saikou Sanyang apply the General Order and asked Mr. Sonko and Mr. Saja Konateh to handover at the right time? The reason Dr. Saikou Sanyang won’t ask the retired officials to leave the project was simply because he was under a bribery scheme with Mr. Sonko and Mr. Konateh.”
Mr. Bojang said “on record, Dr. Sanyang receives D2,000 worth of GSM credit every month without doing any communication work for the project and equally, in one of our routine project meetings, Mr. Sonko and Mr. Konateh said they would not implement one of the field activities intended for three project officials and part of the allowance for that activity will be given to Dr. Saikou Sanyang.”
To amicably resolve the issues, he said, the technical staff of the project called for all the retired officials to respect the law and leave the office but unfortunately, they went to Dr. Sanyang for the usual support.
“After that, Mr. Konateh refuted all the reasons we put forth and Dr. Saikou Sanyang and his admin staff said junior officers (us) don’t have the right to make a retirement call. The truth is they were furious with us because we made disturbing revelations about financial misconduct in project management.”
He continued that the decision of the meeting was to transfer and terminate their positions in the SyRIMAO project currently being implemented by the office, adding this decision was subjective and not in conformity with the common good for the office.
In pursuit for the truth, we visited the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hassan Jallow, who acknowledged that everything that happened was a ‘serious administrative error and an abuse of office’.
After receiving our transfer letters, he explained that they submitted a letter requesting for redress at PMO and Mr. Jafuneh advised us to hold on while he negotiates with Dr. Sanyang to find a peaceful solution.
“While trying to hold on, Dr. Sanyang and his team continued to harass us with letters and emails and submitted a complaint against us at PMO. We thought either Mr. Jafuneh was not talking to Dr. Sanyang or his negotiation efforts were not working. Subsequently, we submitted a letter requesting for redress from the PMO. Dr. Sanyang and his admin staff also sent a letter to the PMO regarding our absence in our new posting places.”
He said the Public Service Commission took a final decision to approve their dismissal from the civil service, saying there are loopholes in the way their case was handled.
Mr. Bojang and co solicited penalties for Dr. Saikou Sanyang and his admin staff for ‘abuse of office’, as well as Landing Sonko and Saja Konateh.