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HomeGambia NewsGAMBIA: TRADE ALLEGATIONS BY BAC'S CEO & CHAIRMAN YANKUBA DARBOE

GAMBIA: TRADE ALLEGATIONS BY BAC’S CEO & CHAIRMAN YANKUBA DARBOE

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Modou Jonga, the chief executive officer of the Brikama Area Council, was accused last week of contract awarding without following due process and of increasing allowances without seeking council resolution. He denied the allegations. In response, Chairman Yankuba Darboe suspended Jonga from office.

In response, the chairman disclosed astounding instances of purportedly blatant corruption while CEO Jonga was in charge.
Jonga claims that on October 18, 2023, Yankuba Darboe reportedly approved the payment of D148, 000.00 as an honorarium for 49 compliance officers. Significantly, the payment in question was outside of the Council’s current approved estimates (budget), which violated both Section 13 (1) of the Local Government Finance and Audit Act of 2004 and Section 504 of the Financial and Accounting Manual for Local Government Authorities, 2009, respectively. In addition, the Head of the Internal Audit Unit made the payment to the compliance officers—who are not technically employed or hired by the Council and do not have a documented term of reference—in a manner that was beyond the purview of his responsibilities, he said.

Committee on Contracts

According to him, on August 9, 2023, the General Council—led by Chairman Darboe—overrode the contract committee’s request for further time to carefully review three proposals that the chairman’s office had mistakenly requested be considered for the reintroduction of a digital tax administration system.
The CEO said that Pay-GAM Limited was chosen by the general council “to implement a digital tax administration system without due process,” in a unanimous vote.

Credit

He also claimed that on July 27, 2023, the General Council, led by the chairman, unanimously approved a resolution establishing a lending policy exclusive to council members, disregarding the council’s employees and therefore being discriminatory in nature.

“The resolution for an all-inclusive lending policy with standard criteria was enacted against the advise of the Chief Executive Officer. The Minister for Lands, Regional Government, and Religious Affairs did not support the loan program, he said, adding that it was investment-insensitive and did not specify the interest the Council would get from it.

meddling in personnel affairs

“Since taking office, the Chairman has repeatedly attempted to meddle in personnel matters, including hiring and redeployments, without following the proper procedures, which is against his roles and responsibilities as outlined in Section 15(1)(2)(3) of the Local Government Act, 2002,” the applicant said.

oral agreement

Without consulting the contract committee, Jonga accused the chairman of verbally agreeing to a deal with Finish Tech Construction Company to supply two vacuum tank trucks for the purpose of draining flooded streets, secondary roads, and markets in the rainy season of June, July, August, September, and October 2023.

He said, “The Council will have to pay D1,027,000.00 for this verbal contract.”

Permissions

According to him, the General Council unanimously decided on July 13, 2023, to raise its biweekly meeting allowance from D1,500 to D2,500 under the direction of the Chairman.

“In contravention of the approved allowance schedule issued by the ministry of regional government and in violation of Section 12 of the Local Government Finance and Audit Act, 2004, the chairman’s monthly allowance has been increased from D18,000 to D25,000, the deputy chairman’s from D9,500 to D20,000, and the councillor’s from D6,500 to D15,000,” he asserted.

Income

He claimed that on July 12, 2023, the Chairman authorized the internal printing of tickets for the “Seneya” project against the advice of the contract committee and then by the Chief Executive Officer. This was a grave violation of the Gambia Public Printing Cooperation Act and the Government’s Executive Directive dated December 29, 2018, which give GPPC exclusive rights to print all revenue-earning receipts. On July 18, 2023, the ‘Seneya’ project—a cooperative effort with private garbage companies—was introduced. The internal audit section has not yet turned in its report on how many tickets were manufactured or how much money was made, he said. The tickets are printed in the D15, D20, and D40 categories, respectively.

Revenue Accrual

He claimed that, against the advice of the CEO and in violation of Section 120, Subsection (2) of the Local Government Act, 2002, a recent General Council resolution chaired by the Chairman had given compliance officers the authority to collect revenue and had also failed to take the necessary and sufficient steps to ensure that the individuals properly accounted for all money under their custody or control.

He said, “In light of Section 120, Subsection (3) of the Local Government Act, 2002, the head of the Internal Audit Unit, who is supervising the compliance team, has also failed to take steps.”

Put signatures on

He claimed that on November 1, 2023, the Chairman unlawfully instructed the banks to change the current signatories to the Council accounts without any administrative authority, in the absence of a formal final decision from the Local Government Service Commission on the general council’s recommendation.

Chair responds

In response to CEO Jonga’s claims, BAC chairman Yankuba Darboe said that the CEO is offended by Darboe’s strong pursuit of eliminating systemic corruption.

According to him, the intention behind the voluntary appointment of compliance officers was to plug any gaps in tax collection.
“KMC gave us the suggestion, and we’ve seen a significant improvement. These compliance officers are volunteers that council members have brought in; they are not council employees. A portion of them arrived and left, and for the others, we provided honoraria to defray their transportation expenses, since they were required to go daily to follow these collectors who were embezzling our money while Jonga was supervising them,” Darboe said.

lorries

For D20,000 per week, we rented the septic tanks, and they make 10 to 20 trips a week. It was an emergency since it was pouring and, for the first time, Brikama residents were not screaming about water flooding the market for days or months. This year, we empty it whenever it floods, and the firms he mentions have not received a single dime in overdue payment, despite the fact that their septic tanks have been arriving. We did not hurry it; it was the finest offer we could find. “Everything that was done was done for the benefit of the people,” he said.

Permissions

He said that the previous council made the decision to increase allowances.

“They boosted their allowances to D2500 after determining that they were insufficient. They successfully defended it, and the budget authorized it; nonetheless, he Jonga made the decision on his own to withhold payment. Who are you to decide that for council, I asked him? No, you have to do it, I responded. The funds were previously budgeted, and the finance director says he will take them if they are not given to the council members. I requested that it be paid because of this. For the money to be paid, a council resolution had to be approved. He questioned, “Who is Jonga to say this is not going to be paid?

Payments for geology

“On his own, Jonga determined that the Geology payment would not be made since elections were approaching and if he made the payment, it would be seen as an inducement—because this money is meant to support those wards. He remarked, “I keep reminding him that decisions are made by the council, not me as the CEO, but he has been overstepping his bounds by making these decisions individually. He delayed the payment to the point where the entire sum of Geology’s money vanished.”

Land exchange

The CEO and the Chairman used to sign land transfer agreements together, but CEO Jonga unilaterally withdrew the Chairman as a signature, according to Chairman Darboe, who said that the council has discovered that Jonga has been embezzling large sums of money from the council’s property transfers. “Since last year, he has been signing all land transactions, and only he is aware of the destination of the funds. Because they are stealing so much money, we now need to go to Physical Planning to get the whole details and double-check them using the funds he has been giving the council. “We’ll soon uncover the biggest thief, CEO Jonga,” he said.

Darboe refuted claims that he has been confrontational, saying, “I am confrontational with him because I found them to be corrupt and they want to corrupt me, and I refused to be corrupted by them.” Do you have any idea how many times he and the finance director visited my office to beg? several times. My first disagreement with him stemmed from my request for the financial statements of the council, which he refused to provide. When I inquired why, he said that it was because he was the accounting officer and I wasn’t. However, as the leader of council, I must be aware of everything that goes on in council,” he said.
He said that just D3.8 million of the mining royalties were given to the wards, whereas the council received over D7 million in 2020 and D10 million in 2021.

“D13 million was paid in 2022, but Jonga chose not to give the wards a single dime. When we arrived in 2023, Boto Bojang, the councillor for Sanyang, brought up the matter at a council meeting. Jonga said that he didn’t give them the money since it fell during an election year. A reason was not provided. At that meeting, he informed us that the only money they received from Geology was D21 million. I decided to write to Geology about this, and they responded by stating they had paid D33 million. Chairman Darboe said, “Jonga stated he invested it in an audit trail account at Ecobank, but we discovered that only D7 million was put into that account.”

Jah Oil Credit

Without informing the council, according to Chairman Darboe, Jonga obtained a loan from Jah Oil. “He still wants me to laugh with him even though he wants to do all these things.” No way, sir.

On the other hand, Jonga claimed that the loan that was obtained from Jah Oil Company Limited was adequately documented and used to cover wages for November 2022.

Regarding the royalties from mining, CEO Jonga stated: “As a sign of openness and responsibility, I have publicly recognized receipt of these payments into our accounts. I can certify that the amount of D33,713,176.01 has been received for the period July 2019, to December 2022. Over the time frame, D11,868,435.97 has been distributed to the Kartong Ward Development Committee and D950,100.00 has been given to Kafuta, Giboroh, Gunjur, Pirang, Kembujeh, Bulock, and Sanyang. Each of these groups got a total of D1,014,285.71 in July 2023.
Furthermore, Jonga said that D3,818,525 was given to the Kartong, Pirang, and Gunjur Wards, in that order, in 2021.

The Kartong Ward Development Committee was given D1,051,205, the Pirang Ward Development Committee was given D767,320, and the Gunjur Ward Development Committee was given D2,000,000.00. Similarly, throughout the period of 2020–2022, D21,506,734.95 was spent on the construction of four significant access roads in Brikama. For your information, the contract ledgers for these projects are attached,” he said.

Removals in 2023

According to Jonga, neither more than D8,902,272.44 nor more than D50 million, as stated in the resolution, was taken out for the months of January through June 2023.

He went on, “The amounts withheld cover salary payments, loan repayments, and payments for goods and services (fuel supply, airfare, stationery, and gratuities).”

Designation of the Jeng household

CEO Jonga said, “I have not acted inappropriately in endorsing the cited appointments contained in the resolution of the General Council dated October 25, 2023,” when asked to comment on the Jeng family’s appointment. The employees (Omar Saidykhan, Malick Jeng, and Sulayman Jeng) were then appointed by a decentralized Local Government Service Commission in 2012 and 2014, respectively. He said, “It seems that I had no direct or indirect influence on the decentralized Local Service Commission’s appointments at that time, which runs counter to the resolution’s claim.

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