The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Freetown has cleared the air that that the action taken against the Mayor of the Kono New Sembehun City Council had nothing to do with a witch hunt, as being claimed by sections of the press and some indigenes of Kono. The Ministry says that the allegations are out of tune with the reality of the situation.
READ THE PRESS STATEMENT BELOW :
The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development wishes to make it abundantly clear to the general public that it counts such insinuations and direct accusations as totally out of tune with the reality of the situation.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER DIANA KONOMANYI
That the issue of Mayor Lamina’s suspension was entirely and solely triggered by internal issues within KNSCC is very clear not least as evidenced from two correspondences coming from the council.
It must be recalled that on February 26, 2016, the following memorandum was provided by the Secretary to President Ernest Koroma .
This was followed by the letter below from the Ministry of Local Government :
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• Monies withdrawn from Council own source revenue bank accounts, using co-signatories appointed by the council without appropriate documentation and / or prior consent of the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