JAC CEO Accepts Local Councils Are Corrupt

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By Makutu Manneh

Mr Samba M.K Leigh, Chief Executive Officer of Janjanbureh Area Council (JAC), has told the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that Local Government Councils are riddled with corruption.

“Yes there are corruptions in Councils and I accept. We were not foreseeing a day like this will come (Local Government Commission of Inquiry),” the witness said.

Deputy Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez, told Leigh that they are appointed to serve the people, entrusted with public funds and they have a greater duty to the nation.

Counsel Gomez  further told him that they do not  have to be audited or accounted for in order to do right as they have the greater duty to ensure that they serve the people to the best of their ability.

It was also put to the witness that there are no vouchers to show or justify the expenditure of the monies he used from revenue collectors.

Counsel Gomez asked the witness for evidence to prove that the monies were spent on council’s activities.

Witness Leigh admitted that what they did was wrong as it was contrary to the Financial Manual and the relevant laws. However, he said the monies that the revenue collectors were asked not to bank were spent on council’s activities.

“Or your pockets,” Counsel Gomez said.

“No, no,” the witness said.

He admitted that they were not following the laws guiding the work of councils (financial manual and the Local Government Finance and Audit Act).

The audit report of 2018, revealed that only two (2) committees were set up in the Janjanbureh Area Council. The auditors said the council could not establish the effectiveness of the committees as they did not keep any minutes in their files for audit review.

Witness Leigh further testified that  the findings of the auditors is true because all the minutes were with the Chairman and by then the Chairman was not regularly coming to work.

Counsel Gomez told him that is not correct because the Chairman was not a member of the Committees and ”you are a member of these committees”. The witness replied “exactly.”

He added that he was the ‘Chief Custodian’ of the Council responsible for keeping the minutes of the meetings of the Council.

“We were keeping minutes. It is just that some documents were lost,” the witness said.

The witness said files were missing because the Council moved to the old complex of the Governor’s Office and later to the new complex of the Governor’s Office because the Council’s complex was being constructed.

The witness said their main focus was on the Finance and Contracts Committee of the Council because they were the committees that were fully engaged.