By Makutu Manneh
The Local Government Commission of Inquiry has questioned Mansakonko Area Council former Chief Executive Officer, Seedy K. Touray about huge deposits made in his personal bank account.
Lead Counsel, Yakarr Cox asked witness Touray about the source of the monies deposited into his account, and provided the witness with the names of those that deposited the said sums into his account some of whom are council staff. Counsel Cox also provided her with the amounts of money deposited and the dates.
Witness Touray responded that he cannot remember the specific source of the monies, however, he kept on repeating that the monies referred to by Counsel Cox, were either from his businesses or from his brother abroad.
On his private business engagements, the CEO said his brother in 2019 and 2020 sent containers to him to sell the goods. He added that he sold two (2) of his plots of land. He mentioned the names of the revenue collectors he used to send to deposit money in his account. He explained that he used to give the revenue collectors money to deposit into his bank accounts.
He said he also has land in Essau given to him by the late Alagie Tabora Manneh, a prominent businessman and a former chief of Lower Niumi.
Touray added that the compound has a two-apartment building, each with two rooms and a parlour and another with one room and a parlour. He said the monthly rent fee for each of the two rooms and parlour was D1500 while the one room and parlour was D1000 respectively.
He said he also has a tractor that used to generate money for him; adding that he sold it in 2022. He testified that the tractor generated a minimum of D5,000 and a maximum of D20,000 and the tractor was purchased in 2019 for about D80,000 and he sold it in 2022.
“I cannot remember the source of the money,” the witness responded whenever he was asked about the source of the money deposited into his account.
The Commission noted the withdrawals for Mansakonko Area Council without following due process. The amounts include D8,406,489 in 2018, D9,020,190 in 2019, D13,656,921 in 2021 and D11,221,539 in 2022. The witness joined the Council in February 2021. He was asked to account for those monies since he was a signatory to the withdrawals.
Touray informed the commission that he has an account at GTBank and Trust Bank and denied having an account at Access Bank.
The commission provided him with the Access Bank account statement to confront him and he accepted. He admitted that his statement was wrong, confirming that he had an Access Bank account.
He was told by the Lead Counsel and the Chairperson of the Commission that the revenue collectors of the councils were making huge deposits into his access bank account like they did in the Trust Bank and GTBank accounts.
He admitted, adding that they used to deposit money in the Access Bank Account too. He said his testimony that he does not have an Access Bank Account was false.
He recalled that in 2022, the Mansakonko Area Council wrote a petition against him to the Ministry seeking his removal from the council. He admitted that he took leave of work in 2021 without handing over to anyone. The witness stated that he was on leave but still working while away. He said he was working by communicating with the director of finance.
The petition filed against him indicated that the former CEO categorically refused to hand over to someone while on leave and thereby caused the Council financial delays. He admitted that he was in Kombo during his leave and they used to bring cheques to him from Mansakonko to sign.
The witness said his first appointment as CEO was in 2013 and since then he has served as CEO in different councils. He testified that what he did was wrong and contrary to the dictates of the law. He stated that he should have handover his functions to someone before embarking on leave.
“The council is not your private entity. You know you need to leave somebody to do that job in your absence. You know the leave was for a month. Why that?” Counsel Yakarr Cox asked.
“I should have handed over,” the witness answered.
“The Chairman asked you to hand over. Did you do that?” the Lead Counsel asked.
“I cannot remember doing that,” the witness replied.
An email correspondence between the Chairman and the witness titled “Urgent Request to Handover” was tendered and admitted in evidence. The email, according to the petition, followed the refusal of the CEO to receive a letter from the Chairman and his insistence not to hand over to someone even though he was away. The petitioners labelled the witness as indiscipline and they requested the Ministry to remove him.
The Council passed a resolution to remove him, according to the Chairman’s letter to the witness.
The petition indicated that the CEO was due to resume work on 9 August 2021 and until 20 August 2021, he was not in office. He was written to by the Chairman inquiring why he was not coming to work but the witness said he wouldn’t resume work unless he was provided an official vehicle. He stated that he resumed one week after the date due for his return.
On his education qualifications, he said he obtained a diploma and advanced diploma in management, a postgraduate diploma in public administration, a master’s in business administration and a master’s in management. He added that he does not have a bachelor’s degree because it is equivalent to a post-graduate diploma.