By Mama A. Touray
Former Councilor for Sabi Ward, Youba Jawara, yesterday admitted to the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that he withdrew D100,000 from the Sabi Ward development fund to finance Basse Area Council (BsAC) activities.
An audit was conducted in BsAC in 2021 and according to page 46 of the audit report, the ex-CEO and ex-finance director in cahoots with the ward councilors for Baja Kunda, Gambi Sara, and Sabi wards withdrew money from the ward development account without consulting the ward development committee.
Reacting to this, councilor Jawara admitted that there was a withdrawal of D100,000 from the Sabi Ward account.
‘’Yes, I admitted that there was a withdrawal of D100,000 but I do not agree that it was unlawful,’’ he admitted when referred to the audit report by the commission’s deputy lead counsel Patrick Gomez.
He disagreed with the commission that the withdrawal of D100,000 was unlawful because, according to him, there was no laid down procedure for councilors to withdraw money from the ward development fund. He was, however, quick to add that the only procedure he knows is how ward committees should do withdrawals from the ward account.
On the steps he took to withdraw money from the ward development account, Jawara explained that he used to have meetings with the ward development committee executive before writing a withdrawal request for approval.
He testified that he gave money to the council when the former CEO Ousman Touray approached him with a request for money to purchase some materials. The money, he went on, was deposited into the Sabi ward development account after it was refunded through the cashier.
He said he gave the council the money because it had been in the account for two years without being used, adding that the former CEO told him that the council would refund it.
Jawara told the commission that the reason ward councilors withdrew money unilaterally without discussing it with the ward development committee was as a result of the fact that the general council did not write a procedure to state that money should be withdrawn in a particular way.
‘’Councilors just bring requests and the council will not question if they have spoken to the ward development committee for approval or not,” he added.
He explained to the commission that there was no control over the disbursement of money at the council, adding that the council was not interested in following procedures for cash disbursement.