By Tabora Bojang
Continuing his testimony before the commission of inquiry into local governments yesterday, Permanent Secretary Buba Sanyang said force was necessary to reinstate KMC CEO Sainabou Martin-Sonko.
The CEO was barred from entering the KMC following a decision to suspend her by a council resolution amid allegations by Mayor Bensouda that she illegally conducted financial transactions totalling about D12 million.
After several attempts by the local government ministry for council to reinstate her failed, on 23 February 2023, ten officials of the ministry escorted her to the KMC premises and broke the padlock of the door to allow her into office.
In his testimony, Sanyang said following a court ruling that the council did not have power to prevent Mrs Martin-Sonko from entering KMC, the ministry wrote to the Attorney General’s Chambers which advised that she should be allowed entry.
“Sainabou [CEO] went to her office several times and she was blocked. We believe sanity must prevail. This is somebody alleged but not proven guilty and just taking advantage of her and not allowing her to execute her duty after the court ruling is something we feel is becoming too much. When she was escorted to KMC, her office keys were requested and they started pointing it with so and so and that was when a carpenter was secured to open the door and replace the key to allow her access to the office,” PS Sanyang explained.
Asked by Counsel Gomez if force was the appropriate action to take under such circumstance, Sanyang replied in the affirmative saying: “All measures were taken and adhered to. We didn’t do it in isolation. We sought advice.”
Counsel Gomez further asked whether he did not think there would be more chaos and civil instability in society if government administrative decisions are executed with force, PS Sanyang said that analysis was subjective.
“This is a situation where the deputy CEO was instructed by the appointing body [Local Government Service Commission] to hand over and he refused. Impunity is itself instability. Somebody’s rights are infringed and if we don’t address that we are also exposing the system to a situation that can also lead to civil unrest because somebody’s right is violated. In fact, there were times when people wanted to take to the streets and install Sainabou but those people were advised to refrain from doing so. So for me, hard decisions had to be taken and somebody ought to face the consequences. “
The PS earlier claimed that the CEO did not commit any violation against the council because accusations against her were allegedly committed against the staff association.
“This is a private body that has no issue with the council [KMC]. It is not an official arm. The staff association is a body; they have options to take the matter to police but council should not unilaterally take a position,” he said.
Hearings continue today.