By Mam Sait Ceesay
A five-member commission of inquiry into allegations of fraud and malpractices at the Kanifing Municipal Council has been sworn-in by the Minister of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs, Mr. Musa Drammeh yesterday.
According to the Government, the move followed the submission of a report by local government inspectors and auditors from the Internal Audit Department on the “serious allegations” by the mayor and counter allegations by the Chief Executive Officer of malpractice and fraud amounting to millions of dalasis.
The commission is chaired by Chief Magistrate Omar Cham, assisted by commissioners Momodou YM Sallah and Mam Sait Jallow. The commission is also assisted by a secretary appointed by the Minister of Local Government while the Ministry of Justice will support the commission with a lead counsel and other technical support staff. The Inspector General of Police will provide security and investigators for the commission.
The commission is mandated to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loan facility given by AGIB Limited to the Staff Welfare Association of the KMC in the sum of 12 million dalasi as well as to ascertain whether due process was followed in obtaining the loan. It will also identify the persons and groups of persons directly involved in securing the loan.
In a statement at the swearing-in ceremony, the Minister of Local Government Musa Drammeh disclosed that the commission, which has powers, rights and privileges vested in the High Court, can summon witnesses to testify at hearings and examine them under oath and compel the production of documents as well as issue orders or requests to examine witnesses abroad. The commission, the minister went on, “can enforce its decisions including measures to protect the life and safety of individuals and cite any person or corporate body for contempt”.
The commission shall complete its inquiry within three months from the date of its establishment and shall submit its report including such recommendations and findings deemed fit to the Minister of Local Government.
Meanwhile, Momodou Mballow, a senior state counsel at the Ministry of Justice, has been appointed as lead counsel for the commission.