By Mama A. Touray
Soma Jallow, one of the witnesses who gave his testimony on Thursday at the Local Government Commission of Inquiry (LGCI) has said without mince of words that if not for the respect the people of Basse have for the law they would have whipped the BsAC Finance Director lamin Susso to death.
Mrs. Soma Jallow was the third revenue collector witness to appear before the LGCI sitting held at Djembe Hotel, Senegambia to give her testimony on her involvement in the council fund of D16,250 given to Mr. Lamin Susso, the Finance Director of the council.
In her explanation, she said “If not for the respect for the law, we the people of Basse will beat Suso to death. Mr. Lamin Susostole all our money, he ate all our money and the Council is bankrupt. Any money you deposit in the bank sinks. Basse Area Council has failed to pay our 3 month salary” she told the commission.
The witness was a Lumo Revenue Collector from 2001 until 2018 when she became a Licensed Collector; currently, she is a Senior Revenue Collector. Madam Soma said her work entails collecting revenue for the council from shops. And that she only does license collection.
Her area of work is Basse South, and has a colleague collector at Basse South called Sulayman Bah. She testified that after the collection of the revenue, the collector is required to deposit the funds in the council’s account.
Testifying on the D16,250 council handed to Finance Director Lamin Susso, She recalled that the incident happened on a Friday when Finance Director Lamin Suso asked her to accompany Sorrie Sillah to a particular area in Garawol.
She explained that the reason for her deployment was because Sorrie Sillah complained that he could not handle the machine, printing, and collecting the money at the same time.
After the collection of the D16,250, Madam Soma said on their way to Basse Sorrie Sillah’s phone rang and he was speaking to Finance Director Lamin Suso, “I heard him saying ‘Director we have collected and we are on our way coming.”
Upon arrival at Basse, she explained that Sorrie Sillah alighted and rushed to the office of the Director of Finance Lamin Susso. She said after talking to the Director Sorrie came out and asked her to give the D16,250 to the Director of Finance Lamin Suso. “He told me Aja, go and give the money to Director”.
Madam Soma was quick to tell the commission that “I did not ask him why I should give Finance Director Suso the money because I only went to help and the receipts were in his name. If the auditors come, they are going to audit Sillah and not me”.
She went on her narration that she was called by CEO OusmanTouray and later summoned to a meeting where she explained her side of the story, adding that the CEO was not happy with her.
Present at the meeting she said were the CEO, the internal auditor, the councilors, and others.
“Lamin Suso apologized to us. He said he would repay the money. We were all sitting there. The CEO and the councilors were all there,” She said.
Soma however testified that Sorrie Sillah was not truthful in his testimony when he mentioned that he was not the one who instructed her (Soma) to hand over the money to the Director of Finance.
She added that Sorrie Sillah was also not truthful when he testified that he did not receive a call from Finance Director Lamin Susso.
“Sorrie Sillah came with his cashbook here but he does not want the Commission to know that he has it with him,” the witness revealed.
Furthermore, she informed the Commission that she is aware of some incidents in which the Director of Finance Lamin Sussocollected money from revenue collectors. She declined to cite those incidents.
“I cannot explain,” she told the Commission.
She testified that the CEO had earlier given them a memo to deposit council funds in the accounts and not to give anyone cash.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Sukai Secka Sagnia told the witness that she should have given Sorrie Sillah the money and the device since she was only there to help. And the witness reacted “Yes, that is true. It was a mistake”.