Councillors in Janjanbureh Unseat Vice Chairperson Amidst Controversies

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By Lamin Fatty

Councillors at the Janjanbureh Area Council have passed a resolution to remove the Vice Chairperson of the Council resulting in a bitter scuffle. The removal is endorsed by the Ministry of Regional Government Lands.

The Gambia is set to hold council elections in April and May 2023 for councils and chairpersons/mayors respectively.

The Vice Chairperson of the Council is Haruna Barry and has been purportedly replaced by Ebrima Fuun, who is also the councillor for Janjanbureh ward.

Musa Sawaneh, councillor for Jareng Ward said Barry was removed in order to create a conducive environment for the council to continue with their ongoing works.

Sawaneh said Barry used to create problems for the councils and used to make false allegation against the Chief Executive Officer of the Council.

Asked whether he is aware of any personal issue between the CEO and said former vice chairman Haruna Barry which could be the reason of his controversial, Sawaneh said from their investigation they came to uncover that Barry wanted the CEO and the general council to divert the allowance of the chairperson to him as the chairperson was sick and had gone for treatment because he was acting in place of the chairperson.

Sawaneh added that the CEO refused by indicating that there is no official letter from the ministry that the chairperson is no more coming back and all his benefits should diverted to the vice chairperson.

“Since then, this former vice chairperson became controversial and turned rebel against the CEO and the general council which is hindering the council’s developmental works,” he said.

Asked whether the chairperson has resumed work, Sawaneh said the chairperson is back now and has taken his position as the chairperson of the Area Council.

This reporter then also reached the councillor of Sare Soffy Ward, Omar Baldeh and the female representative at the Area Council Jabou Fuun, they both expressed similar sentiments and accused the former vice chairperson Haruna Barry of being controversial and problematic in the council.

Haruna Barry denied all allegations levelled against him by his colleague councillors. He said the attempt to remove him is connected to his allegations against the CEO for being corrupt as he is engaged in financial mismanagement. Barry said he has evidence to prove his allegations against the CEO.

He said for two years the CEO has failed to provide the council with the financial report of the council.

“So, I challenged him (CEO) on that we cannot continue like this. He must report so that we can know exactly how our finance is going,” Barry said.

He challenged the CEO to provide the council with the financial report if he thinks he is clean. He said he challenged the CEO on several occasions regarding the issue and this is how the CEO convinced the council to join him to unseat him.

On the issue of the chairperson, Barry said the Chairperson was out of office for 2 years and all this while he (Barry) was acting as the chairperson.

Barry said he was acting in the position of chairperson for over 15 months without any allowance. He said the councillors agreed that he should be entitled to the allowance as acting chairperson and they wrote  to the Ministry of Local Government about their agreement, but the Ministry replied that a vice chairperson cannot be entitled to the chairperson’s allowances  while acting.

He said 11 out of the 12 councillors signed a resolution which was sent back to the Ministry and this time their request was granted in line with section 20 (d)of the Local Government Act.

He said the approval was made on the 4th April 2020 that he is entitled to acting and all related allowances of the chairman.

Barry said despite this approval the CEO refused to allocate him the allowance and other benefits. He added that contrary to the direction of the Ministry that the Chairman, who was away is not entitled to file allowance until such a time he resumes, the CEO was still allocating the Chairman weekly fuel of 60 litres who is no longer serving or functioning.

“I am not accepting that because I did not receive any official letter. Even if they do I am not going accept that. If there is anyone to be removed it is the chairperson who was not functional for over 2 years and has been benefiting from taxpayers money without working for them,” he said.

The chairperson of the Area Council, Janko Sanneh when contacted for comment expressed similar comments with the councillors. He also accused the vice chairperson Haruna Barry of misleading the council and the public against the CEO and chairperson for his own interests.

Chairman Sanneh said he was at hospital because he was very sick to an extent that he cannot walk or even talk. Sanneh said Barry is interested in the allowance and other benefits allocated to him. He stated that this was how Haruna began being controversial and began misleading the council.

Sanneh said Haruna attempted to persuade the councillors to pass a resolution to remove him as the chairperson so that he can bounce back and take up that role.