Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNSCC), Saa Emmerson Lamina has insisted that he is the democratically elected Mayor of the District Council and will therefore remain as such in spite of a suspension alleged to have come from State House.
A purported letter from the Secretary to the President dated 26th February, 2016 states that the President has “graciously approved recommendation of the Minister (of Local Government and Rural Development) that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council should be suspended from office pending the outcome of investigations into the internal audit report of the Koidu New Sembehun City Council conducted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.”
But Mayor Lamina insists that he is still the elected Mayor of the district council. “I am the Mayor of Koidu New Sembehun City Council elected by 23, 000 people and I will remain the Mayor until such time the people no longer have confidence in me,” Mayor Lamina insists, noting that the issues raised by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Madam Diana Konomanyi “are purely administrative and have nothing to do with the political arm of the council.”
Minister Konomanyi had earlier sought Presidential Clearance to cause the suspension of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of KNSCC, “pending the outcome of an investigation committee” set up to probe the outcome of an internal audit conducted by the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in January 2016.
“I am not the Finance Officer of council. I am just the political head and I have nothing to do with the finances of the council, why rope me in?” The Mayor queried, pointing out that there are clear procedures in the Local Government Act of 2004 on how to remove an elected Mayor from office.
He informed that Sections 11 and 12 of the Local Government Act inter alia states that two-thirds of elected Councillors should vote to remove a Mayor based on clear evidences of malfeasance including abuse of office, corruption, gross incompetence, gross misconduct or misbehaviour, physical or mental incapacity as would render the Chairperson incapable of performing his duties or failure or refusal without justifiable reasons to implement lawful decisions of the council, etc.
Mayor Lamina maintained that as a matter of fact, all the financial issues said to be under investigation were inherited by his administration, pointing out that in 2013, his administration had requested the Central Government to address some of those issues amongst which, he disclosed, was a Le 513, 000, 000 (five hundred and thirteen million Leones) debt of junior staff salaries, gratuity and retirement benefits.
“My administration inherited only Le 2, 000, 000 (two million Leones) in the account of the district council,” Mayor Lamina disclosed.
According to him, the allegations proffered against him are a test to his “integrity and credibility” he has maintained for several years as a young man, and described the allegations as “political witch-hunt” by people who want to destroy his political career.
A youth in Kono who spoke to this reporter on the basis of anonymity noted that Mayor Lamina is merely being “hounded” and “hunted” by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development for personal reasons and nothing to do with what constitutes malfeasance in the Local Government Act 2004.
“We still have confidence in Mayor Lamina and he has so far been doing what we expect of him,” the anonymous youth stated, pointing out that if the district Mayor is to be removed from office, “due diligence should be done” and this according to the anonymous youth should constitute fairness and justice.