By KABS KANU :
Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mr. Theophilus Nicol has told the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC ) that the suspension of the Mayor of Kono, Mr. Saar Emerson Lamina and his deputy was legally done.
The Minister disclosed to the BBC that there were financial, procedural and administrative issues involved in the case against the Mayor and the Anti-Corruption Council ( ACC ) has been invited to be involved in the internal investigation to be conducted. Meanwhile, Mayor Lamina and his Deputy remain suspended, the Minister emphasized to the BBC.
MR. THEO NICOL
MADAM DIANA KONOMANYI
MR. SAAR EMERSON LAMINA AND HIS DEPUTY
Hon. Theo Nicol told the BBC that the Local Government Act empowered the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development , Hon. Diana Konomanyi , to suspend the Mayor and his deputy. Furthermore, the minister went on, the executive powers of the President, as recently decided by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone , gave President Koroma full powers to provide the executive clearance to have the mayor suspended.
The Minister’s clarification to the BBC was hailed in many circles and the social media as timely and expedient, given the propensity of the opposition and dissident media and the anti-government individuals to read politics into everything.
The clarification was also necessary to dispel allegations made by the suspended Mayor that the action against him was a witch hunt.
THE LETTERS BELOW EXPLAIN WHY THE MAYOR AND HIS DEPUTY WERE SUSPENDED
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
6th Floor, Youyi Building
26th February, 2016
Mr. Emerson Lamina
Mayor, Koidu New Sembehun City Council
LETTER OF SUSPENSION
As you may be aware, a letter of complaint was submitted to my office by the Finance Officer, Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC) on “Withdrawals without documentations and incorrect procedures” against you and other officials of the Council; and a subsequent query letter alluding to financial impropriety and insubordination issued by your good self to the Finance Officer dated 21st December 2015.
Taking into consideration the seriousness of the issues raised in both correspondences, I requested the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to undertake a special audit of the Council’s fiduciary matters and proffer recommendations to my Ministry for appropriate action. The report of the Audit has been submitted to my office and serious violations of the Local Government Act of 2004 and standard financial management practices have been highlighted.
• Monies withdrawn from Council own source revenue bank accounts, using co-signatories appointed by the council without appropriate documentation and / or prior consent of the Chief Administrator who is principal signatory and vote controller;
• Funds approved and paid for expenditures not included in the approved budget of the local council;
• Local council’s own mobilized funds not banked intact in contravention of Section 43 of the Financial Management Regulations 2007, and Section 106 (1) (2d) of the Local Government Act, 2004;
• Council assets disposed of by the Mayor and proceeds from such transactions not banked intact;
• Council has outstanding financial obligations to the tune of five hundred and thirteen million, seven hundred and eighty – eight thousand, five hundred and ten Leones (Le513,788,510);
• One hundred and fifty – three (153) receipt books were missing during 2015 and could not be accounted for;
• Draft internal audit reports produced by the Council’s internal Auditor for 2015 fiscal year are yet to be acknowledged and responded to by management.
In order to further probe into the aforementioned allegations, I have instituted an independent Investigation Committee. Owing to the fact that some officials have been implicated by the findings and the need to ensure that the Committee’s work is unhindered and not influenced, I have sought executive clearance from H.E. the President, which has been provided, to suspend you with immediate effect until the Committee completes its work and decisions are taken on the outcomes of the investigations.
Meanwhile, you are required to handover any Council property or asset that is in your possession to the Chief Administrator of the Council by Tuesday 1st March 2016.
FINDA DIANA KONOMANYI
MINISTER OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
Secretary to President
Secretary to Vice President
Minister of Finance and Economic Development
Deputy Minister, Local Government and Rural Development
Chairman, Local Councils Association
Chief Administrator, KNSCC
P.C. Paul N. Saquee V
P.C. Fengai S.K. Kaimachende III