The Kanifing Municipal Council is a financial a crime scene. Millions of dalasis belonging to KMC taxpayers have been stolen by corrupt council officials. No one has been arrested yet.
The accused officials have been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigations.
The Mayor Talib Bensouda has demonstrated good leadership by summoning a press conference to shed light on the council’s corruption story. We commend the Mayor for his timely reaction.
That said, it is hard to believe that the accused Chief Executive Officer Sainabou Martin Sonko was merely operating in vacuum to scam the Council and a local Gambian bank in the tune of D12 million dalasis.
Per the Mayor’s own account of events, the CEO secured a loan from one of the banks by using the council’s name. The Mayor also said CEO has falsified a letter bearing his name to secure the said D12 million loan from the bank. The loan was subsequently approved.
We are yet to be told the name of the said bank. Does the said bank have Talib’s captured signature in their system? If yes, how comes the loan was approved without authenticating the true signature of the KMC Mayor?
The scam appears to be an inside job. Both the Bank and the KMC are complicit in the alleged fraud.
In his address, Mayor Bensouda said the KMC hasn’t lost a dime, that the stolen funds belong to the bank, though KMC’s staff association’s name was used to obtain the loan.
Assuming that the Mayor’s assertion contains any iota of truth, how comes that the bank in question didn’t report the incident to the police? Neither the bank nor the KMC reported the matter to the police prior to Monday’s press conference.
According to Mayor Bensouda, the CEO has not only defrauded the Bank, but she has also defrauded a Gunjur landowner. She reportedly used the staff’s association’s name to secure a property for D12 million dalasi. She also tried to lure the landowner to pay her D1million kickback. The deal went south, it never worked as anticipated. She was paid D30,000. She also took over one million dalasis from the staff association’s account after that land transaction.
Sadly, none of the staff association members that she claimed that she was trying to help secure land were privy to the said transaction, except the Mayor. The Mayor is claiming that without his intervention, no one would have known what transpired.
In our view, the KMC Mayor has abdicated his duties and responsibilities as an elected official. He has shirked his responsibility by failing to put in place a strong control mechanism that would prevent a graft of this magnitude.
In the Mayor’s own words, prior to the alleged theft, the CEO has approached him seeking his blessing for council to help provide a collateral for the staff association to secure a loan from the bank to buy land. The Mayor said he was opposed to the request.
Guess what happened? Months later, according to the Mayor, the CEO conspired with the council’s finance Director, treasurer, the staff association’s secretary, and others to defraud council.
The million-dollar question is: How can such transactions happened without the Mayor’s knowledge? As stated earlier, it is hard to believe that such bad actors can operate within the KMC without the Mayor’s knowledge. There is more to the story.
Further investigations into this high profile organized graft could land the Mayor into hot waters. The Mayor is not as clean as he portrays himself. He has been found negligent. Any responsible Mayor would have prevented such a theft.
Given the seriousness of this case, we recommend that the Mayor and his management team to be placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigations. A temporal management team should be constituted by the Ministry of Local government of lands to replace the Mayor and his management. We rest our case.