By Mustapha Jallow
The Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) has appointed its first female deputy mayor following the resignation of the occupant of the position.
KMC on Monday announced at a press conference held at its headquarters that it had installed Madam Janneh Jallow as deputy mayor following the resignation of Pa Musa Bah.
Mrs. Jallow, who is the councilor of Bakau New Town, is the first woman to hold this position.
Mayor Talib Ahmed Bensouda, who made the announcement at the press conference, said he received the resignation letter of the former deputy mayor Mr. Bah on Friday 23rd July 2021.
“His resignation is based on personal grounds and a copy of the letter is available to the press from the clerk’s office,’’ he said.
Last week, Bensouda said Mr. Bah suffered two personal family tragedies including the loss of his mother. He said Bah told him that he intends to focus on his family and fulfil his mandate of serving the LatriKunda Yeringanya ward as councillor.
“I’ve known Musa as a very selfless and committed individual that has put duty before self-interest. I respected and accepted his decision to resign as deputy mayor of KMC,’’ he said.
Bensouda further said at the morning’s general meeting, his-led council exercised their authority to elect a new deputy mayor. He went on to announce Mrs Binta Janneh Jallow, elected councillor of Bakau new-Town & Fajara, will take over the role of duty mayor effective immediately.
“I look forward to working closely with Mrs Janneh-Jallow to achieve the development aspirations of our Municipality. It is also good to note that Binta will be first-ever female deputy mayor in the history of the KMC,’’ he remarked.
On the second update, mayor Bensouda dilated on the discovery of alleged fraud by the KMC administration. He said the KMC CEO, Mrs Martin Sonko was involved in illegal activities.
According to him, sometime in June this year, his office intercepted financial transactions initiated and entered into by Mrs. Sonko. Following investigations with the concerned banks and parties, he said it was discovered that Mrs. Sonko entered into illegal transactions without lawful authorities to the tune of D12 million dalasi.
“These illegal transactions were completed with co-signature of the director of finance Dr. Alieu Keita. It was discovered that Mrs. Sonko acquired a bank loan in the name of the staff welfare association on behalf of 37 staff without their knowledge or consent,’’ he pointed out.
Bensouda further explained that Mrs Sonko used the funds to acquire a property, which they believed was grossly overvalued and that she forged council’s documentation and approval to obtain a guarantee purportedly from KMC to secure the loans.
“Through our swift intervention, we were able to freeze the accounts in question and recovered approximately D7.6 million dalasi. Our swift action and a zero tolerance to graft and corruption protected the public coffers of the council from what we would have otherwise serious financial loss,’’ he said. “These actions of Mrs. Sonko are very serious and we believed they are criminal in nature, ranging from fraud, tax evasion and theft.’’
KMC mayor explained that Mrs Sonko was confronted in a directors meeting of 12th July 2021, wherein she confessed to her actions and apologies to the management team of KMC. Although, Mrs. Sonko has since recanted her position, Bensouda said they have since proceeded to complete the investigations and table the matter before the council.
“Council has today resolved to do the following: we have requested that the Local Government Service Commission summarily dismiss Mrs Sonko and the Director of Finance from service. We have resolved to report the matter to the Gambia Police Force for an investigation. We have also resolved to place Mrs Sonko and Director of Finance (Dr. Keita) on indefinite administrative leave pending the results of investigation and the decision of the Local Government Service Commission,’’ Bensouda said.
Mayor Bensouda stated that council, with the mandate of the people, must have the ability to hold staff accountable to their performances and actions, saying the ability to hire and fire staff is a fundamental function for council to provide quality service.
“I wish to reassure the public, especially the people of KMC and staff of KMC that under my administration, we shall continue to have zero tolerance for corruption. If you intend to use public office to enrich yourself, then KMC is not for you. We will pursue this process as we have done since June to ensure justice prevails,’’ KM mayor told reporters.
Pa Musa Bah was contacted for comment but his phone number rang several times without anyone receiving the calls.