By Omar Bah
Kanifing Municipal Council has announced the suspension of its CEO and Finance Director over corruption allegations.
Announcing the suspension of the duo at a news conference yesterday, Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda alleged that the chief executive officer illegally acquired a loan in the name of 37 staff and used the money to buy a property.
“Sometime in June of this year, my office intercepted financial transactions initiated and entered into by Mrs [Sainabou Martin] Sonko. Following investigations with the related banks and parties it was discovered that Mrs Sonko entered into illegal transactions without lawful authority to the tune of 12 million dalasis. These illegal transactions were completed with the co-signature of the director of finance Dr Alieu Keita,” he said.
Mayor Bensouda said the investigation discovered that the land acquired by Mrs Sonko is grossly over-valued and she forged council documentation and approvals to obtain a guaranty purportedly from KMC to secure the loans.
“Through our swift intervention, we were able to freeze the accounts in question and recover approximately 7.6 million dalasis. Our swift action and our zero tolerance to corruption protected the council from what would have been a serious financial loss,” he said.
He said the actions of Mrs Sonko are very serious and “we believe they are criminal in nature, ranging from fraud, tax evasion and theft”.
Mrs Sonko, Mayor Bensouda added, was confronted in a directors’ meeting on 12 July 2021 wherein she confessed to her actions and apologized to the management of KMC.
“But now that she has since recanted her position, we have proceeded to complete the investigations and table the matter before the council. The council has today resolved to do the following; we have requested that the local government service commission summarily dismiss Mrs Sonko and the director of finance; we have also resolved to report the matter to the Gambia Police Force for an investigation; we have also resolved to place Mrs Sonko and the director of finance on indefinite leave pending the results of the investigations and the decision of the local government service commission.”
Meanwhile, the council’s deputy mayor Pa Musa Bah has resigned.
His resignation is based on personal grounds.
According to the KM mayor, Mr Bah last week suffered two personal family tragedies including the loss of his mother.
Mr Bah’s resignation is reportedly however came amid a report by Freedom newspaper that he solicited bribe of up to one million dalasis from a company. Freedom said it obtained an audio where Mr Bah was heard engaging in the corrupt act.
Mrs Binta Janneh-Jallow is now the new deputy mayor of the Municipality. Mrs Jallow, who is the councillor for Bakau New TownFajara, is the first woman to serve in the role.