The Ministry of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs is deeply concerned with recent events unfolding at the Brikama Area Council(BAC) in relation to the position of the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Finance, as well as the change of signatories to the accounts of Council in a manner grossly inconsistent with relevant legislative instruments.
Genesis of The Problem
The Local Government Service Commission had received a resolution from the Council recommending the removal of the Chief Executive Officer and the Director of Finance on grounds of alleged corrupt practices and abuse of office. These allegations are currently under review by the Local Government Service Commission as the competent body with statutory mandate for staff appointment, promotion and discipline as provided for by Section 118 of the Local Government Act, 2002, as amended.
In the interim, the Council proceeded to delegate the signatory powers of the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Finance to subordinate staff while both individuals remained in active service, a move inconsistent with the provisions of the Finance and Audit Act, 2004.
As the parent Ministry of all Area Councils and Municipalities throughout The Gambia, we maintain that until the Local Government Service Commission reviews the complaints and Council’s resolutions, and subsequently makes a determination about the duo, both individuals should continue to hold their respective positions. Equally, they should maintain their status as authorized signatories to the Council’s accounts, in accordance with the provisions of the Finance and Audit Act, 2004.
Significantly, it is essential to emphasize that the BAC cannot act unilaterally as the judge, jury, and advocate in this matter. Doing so would represent a grave denial of justice, as it is imperative to allow for an independent and impartial examination of any allegations of corruption and abuse of office levied against the person of the CEO and Director of Finance. It is trite law, that every accused party must have the fundamental right to be heard and their case objectively considered.
Crucially, the Lands Ministry as an oversight authority under Section 150 of the Local Government Act, 2002had clearly communicated its concerns and standpoint on these circumstances to the Brikama Area Council and other stakeholders in its 30th November, 2023 missive.
Regrettably, the BAC Vice Chairman and some Councillors took matters into their own hands by tampering with the official vehicle of the CEO and forcibly taking the keys from the drivers of both the CEO and the Director of Finance. In addition, some Councilors resorted to using abusive language and caused disruptions within the Council, actions that are entirely unacceptable. The Ministry is deeply disappointed that the Vice Chairman, as the second-highest-ranking member of the Council, conducted himself discourteously and inappropriately. Subsequently, law enforcement authorities intervened to restore order.
Fundamentally, the Ministry reiterates that Council has no authority to remove the CEO or the Director of Finance from their positions. That responsibility lies solely with the Local Government Service Commission as adequately outlined in Section 45 of the Local Government Act, 2002. Therefore, any attempt to link this situation to other motives is a calculated political maneuver and a misrepresentation of facts by the Council, with the clear intent to mislead the public and exert undue influence on the Service Commission’s decision.
Finally, the Ministry hereby craves the indulgence of the Chairman and Councilors of Brikama Area Council to maintain decorum and civility and ensure that members of Council comport themselves in a manner consistent with the law.