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GAMBIA: BASSE AREA COUNCIL IS BANKRUPT SAYS SOMA JALLOW A REVENUE COLLECTOR

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Soma Jallow, a revenue collector at the Basse Area Council, told Commissioners at the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that the Basse Area Council is bankrupt and that any money deposited in the bank sinks.

Jallow was a Lummo Revenue Collector from 2001 to 2018; when she became licencee collector, her collection covers Basse South.

The witness said she was aware of some incidents in which the Director of Finance collected money from revenue collectors, although she declined to cite those incidents.

She testified that the CEO had earlier given them a memo to deposit council funds in the accounts and not to give anyone cash.

“Council is bankrupt. Any money you deposit in the bank, it sinks,” she said.

“Lamin Suso [finance director] stole all our money. He ate all our money,” the witness added.

“If not for the respect for the law, we the people of Basse will beat Suso to death,” the witness said.

Sorrie Sillah, a revenue collector at the Basse Area Council who also testified before the Commission last week Thursday, admitted that he gave D16,250 to Finance Director Lamin Suso from his daily collections at Kulari in 2021.

Finance Director Lamin Suso allegedly received a total sum of D118,750 from the revenue collectors of the Basse Area Council. Sorrie Sillah was the second revenue collector to appear before the Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.

Sillah’s career as a revenue collector began in 2003 and his main area of collection is rates and licences.

The witness said in 2021 he was a licence collector for Wuli East, Wuli West and Sandu Districts. In addition, he said he was also a rates collector at Kantora.

In his testimony, he admitted that it should not have happened, as revenue collected was supposed to be deposited in the council’s account, but said that Mr Suso demanded the money from him.

Quizzed on how it happened, he testified that Director Suso instructed him to do licence collection with one Soma Jallow at Kulari. He said Director Suso gave them his vehicle, which they used for the collection. “Director Suso informed us to go for collection and he said that we should hand over the money to him,” Sillah said.

After the collection, Sorrie Sillah said he came back to the Basse Area Council with her junior, Soma Jallow. On arrival, he testified that he proceeded to the office of Mr Suso to inform him of their presence.

“I surrender the money to him. The Director took the money from her,” the witness said, adding that it was not proper for council staff to either demand cash or be given cash without depositing it in the bank.

He said in case the banks are closed, the person is required to make the deposit the following day.

However, Sillah told the Commission that he did not directly hand over the money to Director Suso, adding that it was Soma Jallow who did that. He testified that after Soma Jallow informed him that Director Suso took money from her, he confronted Director Suso who in turn gave him a paper indicating that he received the money.

The witness said he was disappointed with the Finance Director, saying “what he did kills my spirit because it was the taxpayers’ money.”

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