In her letter dated 26th February 2016, suspending the Mayor of the Koidu New Sembehun City Council (KNCC), citing the report from the special audit from the Ministry of Finance, Minister of Internal Affairs has made allegations of serious violations of the Local Government Act and standard financial management practices.
However, responding to some of these allegations, the Mayor, Saa Emerson Lamina, said he has nothing to do with the allegations as they are all administrative and not political. He said council consists of two wings, the Political and Administrative wings and “none of the allegations falls under the political wing of council of which I am the head.”
One of the allegations contained in the letter states that monies were withdrawn from council’s own source revenue bank account, using co-signatories appointed by the Council without appropriate documentation and or prior consent of the Chief Administration who is principal signatory and vote controller.
Reacting to this allegation, the Mayor said “from the very first day I took up office, council took a decision to have co-signatories who are the deputy Mayor, Deputy Chief Administrator, Accountant and Financial Secretary; this was because I was travelling a lot out of the country and so the council took the decision to have co-signatories.”
He said the alleged money in the report is “fifteen million Leones for fifteen councilors as they planned post ebola activities in their fifteen zones. On their return, the Finance Officer raised alarm, but the whole process was legal as these were monies from council’s generated revenue and not from the Central Government.”
On the allegation of funds approved and paid for expenditure not included in the approved budget of the Local Council, the KNCC Mayor responded that this happened during the holiday season when Council was on recess and that during this period “two Statesmen of Kono died – Chief S. N. Gborie and Chief Komba Kellie, so funds from the market dues were collected for contribution to the funeral because council was not operating as it was during the holiday period, and this was approved by the accountant and the Deputy CA.”
On the allegation of the missing one hundred and fifty-three (153) receipts books during 2015 which could not be accounted for, he said “the Mayor is not the Finance Officer, so I cannot account for missing receipts books, but when this happened the Finance Officer drew my attention and advised the Finance Officer to report the matter to the Tankoro Police Station, that Council’s safe was broken into at night.”
On the 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, stressing that since he took over council he has been cooperating with all auditing exercises.
“I am still the Mayor incumbent of KNSCC and my people are waiting to welcome me in my township,” he stated, adding that his Councilors are in high spirit and are positive and that already ten out of the fifteen councilors have signed a position paper that the minister reverses the decision or else they will down tools, he warned.