By Omar Bah
The Kanifing Municipal Council security officers yesterday barred suspended chief executive officer, Sainabou Martin-Sonko from entering the council’s premises.
Mrs Sonko was suspended by the Council led by Mayor Talib Bensouda after it emerged she illegally took a D12 million loan on behalf of council staffers. The council accused her of fraud and described her actions as criminal.
The decision to suspend Mrs Sonko and the council finance director was reached at a council meeting of elected representatives led by Mayor Bensouda.
However, the Ministry of Local Government in a letter addressed to Mayor Bensouda seen by The Standard, said the action of the council to suspend Mrs Martin Sonko is illegal.
The ministry requested that she be allowed back to work amid an investigation by the ministry.
“Having regard to the Local Government Act and having discussed this matter and taken advice from my administrative and governance team on the very serious issues that have been raised in (your letter) under reference, the ministry has decided to call for an inspection of the KMC in accordance with section 150 of the Local Government Act,” the letter read. The letter added: “This decision has been taken for a number of reasons. First, a petition has been received by the ministry from the CEO and other officers of the council, alleging fraud against the ex-deputy mayor and a cover-up of the said fraud. Additionally, the CEO and Director of Finance also deny any wrongdoing in the said petition and have taken strong objection to the decision by the council to send them on indefinite leave.”
The ministry said the decision taken by the council to suspend the two staff was not based on laws that govern the council. “As you are aware, the appointing and disciplinary authority for a public officer and director of finance is the Local Government Service Commission. The council can make a recommendation to the said commission but cannot as has been done usurp the powers of such a commission. It is important to foster adherence to the rule of law and principles of natural justice and good governance,” the ministry added.
Meanwhile when contacted for comments, CEO Sonko said: “Yes, it is true, we reported to work following receipt of copies of the letter to the Lord Mayor by the ministry advising him to rescind his decision to send us on indefinite leave and to also ensure our full participation in the on-going Inspection by the Ministry but we were denied entry on arrival at the gate.
“I was with Babucarr Sanyang, treasurer of the KMC Staff Welfare Association and Mam Kaba Bass, Vice President of KMC Staff Welfare Association,” Mrs Sonko told The Standard. The Standard tried unsuccessfully to get word from the KMC on the matter.