By Makutu Manneh
Ms Fatoumatta M. Saho, Internal Auditor for Basse Area Council, has disclosed to the Local Government Commission of Inquiry (LGCI) that the Basse Area Council (BsAC) was paying rent for Finance Director, Lamin Suso in spite of the availability of a residence for him.
According to the witness, MrSuso was living in a rented compound that the Council was paying for Fifty-five thousand (D55) every six (6) months.
She admitted that the residence of the finance director was in bad condition, but one soldier was living there while the Finance Director was renting.
Saho further reported that the council noted that ninety-one thousand, five hundred Dalasi (D91,500) was spent to purchase furniture for the finance director in his rented house.
Ms. Saho said she was never involved in this procurement and that she only saw the vouchers after the purchase.
She further informed the Commission that both the CEO and Finance Director used to buy credit and cash power from Yaye Money Transfer, but said when she enquired from Yaye Money Transfer to verify the authenticity of the receipts, she came to know that Yaye Money Transfer did not have such receipts in their files.
“We could not see the receipts anywhere in the Yaye Money Transfer books. NAWEC is cheaper and it is not far from the Council,” he said.
She said the CEO and Finance Director used to buy cash power for D1000 or D1500. She also informed the commission that the council buys cash power from NAWEC.
She explained that upon return at the council, she recommended that the council not to do business with Yaye any further.
The witness said when she informed the Finance Director about her finding, he responded to her in an impolite manner.
“He told me, Fatou Saho, you don’t have any capacity to stop us,” the witness said.
She further told the Commission that she was offended by the response of the Finance Director and opted to resign. The Audit found that the Basse Area Council used to pay Medical Bills for….., but did not know whether there was a Policy in place to guide the process.
“They send the vouchers to me after making the payments,” the witness confirmed.
She testified that she used to approve vouchers for medical bills; adding that she thought that the Area Council had a policy.
She was also asked about procurement activities of the Councils, most of which she said she was not aware of.
She said she is also not aware of the following purchases; Over One Hundred Thousand Dalasi was spent on the maintenance of a vehicle, adding that about one hundred Thousand Dalasi was spent on stationary while Forty-five thousand Dalasi was spent for the construction of a market, and Eighty-one thousand Dalasi was spent on the Sandika Market.
“Payment of One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dalasi (D150,000) to the Chief Driver for the rehabilitation of a road, purchase of a stand air conditioner, and furniture for the Chairman and Finance Director amounting to D91,000, purchase of a generator for the Finance Director’s residence,” she said.
The audit official told the commission that sometime in 2021 when she was a revenue collector, the Finance Director wrote a Cheque, amounting to Thirteen Thousand Dalasi for her to withdraw from his FIB Bank Account now called Vista Bank and gave it to his wife. She recollected that this transaction happened during the Ramadan.
“I don’t know he has been sending other staff of the Council to do transactions for him, but this was the only one I did for him,” she clarified.
At this point, Deputy Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez told the witness that they indicated during the system audit that Ms Saho’s qualifications did not match with the portfolio she’s handling and that the council should find someone who matches the qualifications.
“Yes, I believe they should have someone more qualified than me. I believe they were doing certain things because they knew I don’t have the qualifications,” he said.
“Some of the things might escape me. Is true I don’t have the capacity to be in this position and I always told the CEO that they should bring an Auditor that should be working with me,” she explained.