MKAC Former CEO Blames LG Service Commission, Lands Ministry for Appointing an Incompetent Finance Director

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By Makutu Manneh 

Pa Sait Ceesay, a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mansakonko Area Council, said the  continues to accept the malfunctions of the Council during his tenure. 

According to Mr Ceesay, a capacity gap existed at the said Council at the time, which he had informed the Ministry of Local Government and the Local Government Service Commission of.

He said Mr Sallah abandoned the receipt and record books claiming that he had software to use, which never happened. 

“I informed the ministry and the service commission that the finance director is not competent and the finance department was not functioning but they did not take any steps,” he said, adding that he did not receive any response to the letters he sent to the ministry and the commission.

He said the Local Government Service Commission went on to confirm Bai Gibbi Sallah’s appointment despite his letters. 

The witness then provided Commissioners with two letters addressed to the former Director of Finance Bai Gibbi Sallah, where he requested the latter to provide him with a financial statement. One of the letters was dated 6 May 2020 and was written by Baba Jarjusey, the Director of Internal Audit at the Council at the time. This letter was titled “Reminder” and the writer requested cash books, journals, ledgers, bank statements, cheque books and deposit slips. Another letter that the witness tendered was dated 7 May 2020, and it was written by the witness, after a request was received from the National Assembly Select Committee on Local Government, for the financial statement of the Council to be produced. The witness testified that he had other letters that he had written to the former Director of Finance asking him to produce financial statements, and promised to bring them to the Commission. His letters to the National Assembly Select Committee on Local Government and another letter to the Ministry all concerning the financial statements of the council, were both tendered and admitted into evidence as exhibits before the Commission. Ceesay said he has assessed the former Finance Director for six months after which he was able to confirm that he lacked capacity, making him not confirm his appointment. 

On the auditor’s report indicating that Mansakonko Area Council was not preparing a balance sheet to show the true financial status of the Council, the witness said that was as a result of the capacity gap that existed in the council and he took responsibility for this. He added that he should have demanded it and ensured that it was prepared, since he was the chief accounting officer of the council at the time. 

Witness Ceesay also admitted that the Council lacked a proper record-keeping system because there was no records unit. He said the minutes of the committees’ meetings were missing due to the non-existence of a good record-keeping system. The auditors noted that the amounts recorded in the ledgers were different from what was contained in the cash book. 

“There was no proper accounting system at Council,” the witness said, and concurred with the auditor’s findings that Mansakonko Area Council lacked an operational plan. However, he argued that they had a strategic plan and promised to provide the members of the Commission with this document. 

Deputy Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez asked Ceesay how they could have implemented a strategic plan when they did not have an operational one. 

“To be frank, there was no operational plan, and the auditors also found out that a payment of over D153,000 was made without payment vouchers,’’ Ceesay admitted. 

It was also noted by the auditors that 92 employees of the Council were working without complete files and different names for one individual. 

“I think it was an incomplete establishment register. It is a serious lapse,” the witness said, and admitted that they used to pay ghost workers as Council staff, after initially challenging the accuracy of the audit findings regarding the existence of ghost workers at the Mansakonko Area Council.

“What they [the auditors] are saying is true,” the witness answered in the affirmative, adding that he used to give verbal instructions for payments to be made by the Council. He further admitted that he used to give orders to the former Finance Director to instruct the revenue collectors to make certain payments, when the Financial Rules dictate that all monies should be deposited at the bank.

Ceesay said from 1992 to 1993, he was doing voluntary services at Kuntaur Area Council and was appointed revenue collector in 1993. He said during the 1996/97 academic year, he was enrolled at the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) where he obtained AAT Level 2, noting that he does not have a diploma or degree but rose through the ranks of a revenue collector, senior revenue collector, accounting assistant, acting finance manager and finance manager. He said at theMansakonko Area Council, he was acting as Finance Director and was moved to Janjanbureh as acting finance director, before he was later confirmed as one. Ceesay said he was moved to Basse Area Council as Finance Director and later moved back to Mansakonko Area Council as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), adding that from Mansakonko, he was moved to Kerewan Area Council under the same position as CEO. He provided twelve documents which dealt with his appointment, transfers and confirmation and all the documents were tendered and admitted into the records of the Commission. 

Sitting continues.

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