By Makutu Manneh
Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda and councilors of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) have condemned what they called the forceful installation of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sainabou Martin Sonko, into her office on Monday morning by paramilitary officers.
This development followed the ongoing deadlock amid KMC and the ministry of lands.
This has caused chaos in the council as it paralysed the daily activities of KMC. The garbage collection trucks were assembled in front of the council’s premises and staffs of the council were seen roaming and complaining while others were standing in dilemma.
There was tight security at the KMC gate. The municipal police were seen outside and within the council’s compound.
“7am, I came to work and found two pickups of paramilitary officers at the KMC gate, when I asked the KMC commissioner of police what they were doing here, he said according to the commander in charge of the officers they have received an executive directive to forcefully install CEO Sonko in her office,” said Mayor Talib Bensouda.
On Monday morning, Mayor Talib Bensouda took to his official Facebook page to announce his-led council had been besieged. He further wrote that forcefully putting the CEO into her office by PIU personnel was usurping the decision of the council. Bensouda said such action demonstrates why councils cannot function and how the ministry of local government continues to undermine councils’ autonomy.
The council’s staff association president Modou Njie said they converged that morning and decided to go on a sit-down strike because they believed that their lives were in danger.
“As staff of the council, we reported to work and found paramilitary with their full gear at the gate. We called for an emergency meeting. We wanted to go on a sit-down strike because we believed our lives were in danger and which authority sent the PIU should have used another mechanism,” he said.
The mayor and his councilors said they are not denying the investigative team from the ministry of local government entry, but the CEO and co who are currently on leave through the council resolution. However, before the council ended its general council meeting, a team of the investigation team from the ministry of local government arrived.
President of Gambia association of local government authorities, Landing B. Sanneh, President of Gambia Bar Association, Salieu Taal, and President of TANGO, John Charles Njie, were present at the council to show solidarity with KMC. The councilors want those accused of corruption at the council to adhere to the council’s resolution until the investigation is concluded.
Meanwhile on Monday 26 July 2021, Mayor Bensouda held a press conference where he dilated on the discovery of an alleged financial fraud involving KMC CEO, Mrs. Martin Sonko and Dr. Alieu Keita, Director of Finance.
He said it was discovered that Mrs. Sonko was involved in illegal transactions without lawful authorization to the tune of D12 million and that the money was used to acquire a property.