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Gov’t announces Commission of Inquiry into local councils

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A legal notice dated 10 February 2023 has been  issued disclosing that In  the exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Constitution  President Adama Barrow has set up  a Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of all Local Government Councils, and connected matters . The notice about the commission is reproduced here in full.

1. Appointment of Commissioners

The Commission shall consist of –

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(a)        Jainaba Bah Sambou who shall be Chairperson;

(b)       Samba Faal;

(c)        Oreme E. Joiner;

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(d)       Baba M. Leigh; and

(e)        Sukai Secka Sagnia.

2. Authority of the Commission

1.         The Commission is authorized to inquire into the conduct of all Local Government Councils, in particular, the circumstances surrounding –

(a)        the loans acquired for and on behalf of a Local Government Council between the period May 2018 to January 2023, and to ascertain —

I.          whether applicable policies and procedures were followed in securing such loans;

II.         the persons or groups of persons directly involved in securing such loans; and

III.        the funds used for the repayment of such loans;

(b)       the withdrawal of diverse sums of money from a Local Government Council bank accounts; and

I.          ascertain whether bank policies were followed in the creation and operation of the accounts and withdrawal of the funds therefrom;

II.         ascertain whether the withdrawn sums were properly applied to budgeted and lawful purposes; and

III.        identify institutions, persons and group of persons directly involved in the payment, withdrawal and application of the said funds; and

(c)        the granting of the use of the Local Government Council landed properties and ascertain whether applicable procedures and laws were followed.

(2) The Commission is authorized to investigate —

(a)        the increment of salaries and allowances of staff and elected officials, of a Local Government between the period May 2018 and January 2023 and ascertain whether such increments were done in line with applicable procedures and laws;

(b)       the general staffing situation of a Local Government Council and ascertain whether —

I.          a Council is over staffed; and

II.         such staff were employed in accordance with applicable policies, procedures and laws;

(c)        as to whether a Local Government Council has the following management tools —

I.          strategic plan;

II.         establishment register;

III.        fixed assets register;

IV.        (iv)financial manual;

V.         training and information technology policies; and

VI.        standing orders.

(d)       the general institutional arrangement and process of a

Local Government Council, and to ascertain whether —

I.          policy makers such as Mayor, Mayoress, Chairperson and Councilor are directly or indirectly involved in policy implementation as to the day to day operations and management of a Council;

II.         a Council has an Internal Audit Unit, Procurement Unit and Information Technology Unit; and

III.        (jii)       atl funded projects have followed applicable procedures and were properly audited;

IV.        (iv)       all major contracts including procurement contracts that were entered into by a Council between the period of May 2018 and January 2023, have followed applicable procedures and laws; and

V.         (v)        all public private partnership agreements that were entered into by a Council between the period of May 2018 and January 2023 have benefited the Council and the public;

(e)        all appointments on contract between the period May 2018 and January 2023 by a Local Government Council and ascertain whether such appointments and their remunerations are in line with applicable policies, procedures and laws;

(f)        the creation of all advisory positions between the period May 2018 and January 2023 by a Local Government Council and ascertain whether —

I.          such advisers were recruited in line with applicable policies, procedures and laws; and

II.         the remunerations of such advisers were properly applied to budgeted and lawful purposes.

(g)        the recruitment of retainer consultants, lawyers or law firms and the remuneration paid to them, and ascertain whether applicable procedures and laws were followed; and

(h)       the creation of third party limited liability companies which a Local Government Council is a shareholder, and to ascertain whether such shares of a Council were acquired in line with applicable procedures or laws;

(i)         the actual income and an itemized expenditures of Local Government Council between the period May 2018 and January 2023; and

(j)         any other person or matters that may be reasonably related to the foregoing inquiries, and perform such other functions as may be conferred on the Commission by applicable laws; and

(k)        identify whether any person or group of persons committed any offence in relation to any matter inquired into by the Commission hereunder.

(3)        The Commission shall recommend ways and means of —

(a)        improving on the supervision of Local Government Accounts in a bid to ensuring that irregular withdrawals from Local Government Council Accounts do not reoccur; and

(b)       recovering or restoring any assets, monies or other resources that may have been illegally taken, misappropriated, misapplied or lost.

(4) The Commission shall —

(a)        present its findings to the Government making such recommendations as it deems fit, in relation to any person or matter and may, if it deems it appropriate, present its findings in consecutive reports according to the manner of completing this inquiry; and

(b)       in making its findings embody in its report a full statement of the reasons leading to those findings.

3. Secretary to the Commission

The President shall appoint the Secretary to the Commission.

4. Appointment of Counsel and other officials

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice shall appoint a Counsel and such other officials to assist the Commission in its inquiry.

5. Security for the Commission

The Inspector General shall, within one week of the creation of this Commission assign such police officers to —

(a)        attend sittings of the Commission and preserve order;

(b)       provide security to the Commissioners and Counsel;

(c)        serve summonses on witnesses; and

(d)       perform such functions relating to the Commission as the Commission may direct.

6. Duration of the Inquiry

1.         The Commission shall complete its inquiry within a period of three months of its first sitting but may continue beyond such period if in its opinion it is necessary to do so.

2.         The Commission shall cease to exist on the date that the Commission submits its last or final report to the President.

HIS EXCELLENCE ADAMA BARROW

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA

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