By Buba Gagigo
Twenty-three Brikama Area Council (BAC) councilors were released after being arrested and held at the Anti-Crime Unit in Banjulinding. They were charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, but one councilor, Abdoulie Jammeh of Brufut ward, remains in custody.
Lamin Singhateh, BAC Clerk and Public Relations Officer, informed Kerr Fatou that the released councilors are required to report to the Anti-Crime Unit in Banjulinding at 10 a.m. the following day (Wednesday). The charges stemmed from allegations of a conspiracy to commit a felony, with Jammeh being the primary suspect for tampering with the vehicle’s tire.
“They are released and charged with conspiracy to commit felony but the Brufut Ward Councilor Abdoulie Jammeh, Brufut ward councilor, remains in police custody as their primary suspect for deflating the vehicle’s tire. The released councilors are asked to report at the Anti Crime in Banjulinding tomorrow at 10 a.m.,” Lamin Singhateh, BAC Clerk and Public Relations Officer, told Kerr Fatou.
Sheriffo Baiyo Sonko, the nominated councilor for Transport at Brikama Area Council, clarified that the councilors unanimously took responsibility for deflating the tire and taking the vehicle’s key to safeguard it. The action, he said, was taken amid concerns that the CEO, Jonga, might use another key to access the vehicle and potentially damage it before leaving.
The nominated councilor for Transport at Brikama Area Council, Sheriffo Baiyo Sonko further elaborated on what transpired, “All the councilors are released except one, and that is the Brufut ward councilor, Abdoulie Jammeh. This is because they want to hold him accountable for deflating the tire on CEO Jonga’s vehicle. All the councilors have unanimously taken responsibility for deflating the tire and taking the key to the vehicle to protect the vehicle. Because they suspect that Jonga might have another key he can use on the vehicle. The councilors are protecting the vehicle because Jonga might use it anyway after knowing that there is a lot of evidence against him. He might damage the vehicle before he leaves.
The Ministry of Lands, Regional Government and Religious Affairs said in a press statement on Tuesday that “the BAC Vice Chairman and some Councilors took matters into their own hands by tampering with the official vehicle of the CEO and forcibly taking the keys from the drivers of both the CEO and the Director of Finance.”
Sonko disputed the statement, claiming it was misleading. He mentioned that a resolution had been passed by the General Council for CEO Jonga to return the vehicle, and all councilors had signed it. The decision was made pending an investigation and the service commission’s final decision.
“In fact, there is a resolution that all the councilors signed to take the vehicle from him. The chairman had written to the CEO to inform him about the council resolution to return all council assets, just as the CEO himself informed Finance Director Jeng when the same type of resolution was passed against him. When he (CEO) wrote to the Finance Director, the Finance Director returned all council assets. After the Finance Director handed over the council assets, the general council passed a resolution to reassign that vehicle to the vice chairman. That was how the vehicle was handed over to the vice chairman of BAC.
Furthermore, Sonko pointed out that the Finance Director, Alagie Jeng, followed a similar resolution, returned council assets, and waited for the service commission’s decision. He questioned why CEO Jonga would not adhere to the decision made by the General Council and surrender council assets.
“And a resolution was unanimously passed for CEO Jonga not to use that vehicle by the entire council. But after the resolution was passed for the removal of Modou Jonga, he was asked by the chairman to return the vehicle just like he (Jonga) did to the Finance Director, pending the investigation and the decision of the service commission. So if the Finance Director Alagie Jeng can accept and wait for the service commission, who is CEO Jonga not to accept the decision made by the General Council? Who’s he not to surrender council assets?” he asked.
The Nominated BAC Transport Councilor also said when CEO Jonga wrote to Mr Alagie Jeng (Finance Director), he copied the governor, The permanent secretary and the service commission, but there was no response to that letter to tell CEO Jonga to rescind the decision. Ismaila Jallow, the BAC vice chairman, explained that when the Director of Finance was suspended, the CEO requested the return of all council assets, a request that was complied with. The council then decided to allocate a vehicle to him. Jallow emphasized the council’s unity and commitment to working as one family, devoid of political affiliations.
“As a result, council as a whole decided to allocate that vehicle to me. That is how I acquired that vehicle. So I don’t have any powers to forcefully or unlawfully take that vehicle from the Director of Finance. In addition, I’ve been on this council for the past five years. When I was having a hard time with Sheriff Sonko, nothing of such allegations happen, why now? The council consists of different political parties, but we don’t have political affiliations on the council. We work as one family. So that is more of the reason why the council deemed it necessary that I should be given a car,” the BAC vice chairman told Kerr Fatou.
He concluded by sharing his history of not having a vehicle during Sheriffo Sonko’s time, receiving an old pickup that was later auctioned off after one year. Only upon being re-elected did he receive BAC 4, a vehicle that was not in good condition. Jallow expressed gratitude for the council’s decision to provide him with a vehicle and saw no reason not to use the car allocated to him.
“Since then, I have not had any vehicles Until we were elected back to office. BAC 4 (vehicle) was allocated to me, which was not in good condition. In my position as the vice chairman, I was not complaining about not having a car. The council saw it as a necessity to provide me with one, and that was the car the then Director of Finance was using. It was resolved and given to me, and I see no reason why I should not drive a car given to me by council,” he concluded.