By Buba Gagigo
Yankuba Darboe, Chairman of the Brikama Area Council (BAC), has condemned the Ministry of Lands, Regional Government, and Religious Affairs’ intervention in the Council’s affairs as unlawful and unjustified. This comes amidst growing tensions between the Councilors and CEO Modou Jonga.
Speaking at a council sitting, Darboe expressed his discontent with the interference, asserting that the council had been functioning smoothly until the Ministry of Local Government intervened in its affairs. He attributed the disruption to the actions of Permanent Secretary Saffie Sankareh Farage, who, according to Darboe, had sent letters to banks and council staff, including the Director of Admin and Head of Finance, causing chaos.
“The reason why we are having this council sitting is because this council has been functioning normal. Everything is going fine as it should be. Until the Ministry of Local Government decided to sneak their nose into the affairs of our council, and that is unfortunate because we are the elected representatives of the people of West Coast. The constitution said it’s a democratically elected council that should lead its own affairs and maintaining the highest degree of autonomy.
“What the ministry through the Permanent Secretary Saffie Sankareh Farage tried to do, she is the one that I will hold responsible for whatever happened here today and whatever is happening at BAC. The problem is this, BAC as a result of Saffie Sankareh Farage’s unlawful and unjustifiable intervention in writing a letter to the banks and writing letters to council staff that have been helping council. And that is our Director of Admin and Head of Finance, who have been helping the council in ensuring that council functions normally as it should,” the chairman said.
Darboe lamented the impact of this intervention on the council’s financial operations, revealing that despite having ample funds to pay salaries, they were unable to do so due to the Ministry’s interference. He specifically pointed to Saffie Sankareh Farage’s directive to reinstate individuals recommended for removal as signatories to the council’s account, leading to the current state of unrest.
“Saffie Sankareh Farage decided that the people that this council, by resolutions, recommended for removal should come back and act as our signatories to our account and perform whatever duties we have recommended, or the council have recommended that they should not do. And that is what is causing the chaos that you the media are responding to,” he said
Expressing concern about the sustainability of peace at BAC, Darboe urged the Ministry to refrain from meddling in council affairs. He emphasized the importance of peace for the effective functioning of the council and highlighted the damage caused by the current CEO and Finance Director, advocating for their removal.
“Until the ministry seized from interfering into council’s affairs, they are not going to be able to help us to maintain peace at BAC and BAC needs peace. We need peace because we have a lot to do. And we have a lot that our people are expecting us to do. We are saying we cannot do this with Jonga and Jeng being our CEO and Finance Director. They’ve already done enough damage, enough wrongs to the people of West Cost. They shouldn’t be allowed to continue on that,” he said.
He emphasized that what the ministry is doing is an interference into the running of the council, and his council has been very peaceful from the onset.
“We have done everything within the confines of the law and putting the interest of our people at the foremost of everything that we have done so far. We put their interest on top of everything, we gave it the primary consideration, and that’s what got us to where we are now. And we got to decisions, and we made decisions,” he said.
Darboe clarified that the decisions made by the council to remove CEO Jonga were based on justifiable and reasonable grounds, including allegations of embezzlement. He conveyed the frustration of elected representatives and warned of potential public backlash if the interference persisted, urging the Ministry to respect the autonomy of the democratically elected council.
“He had already done so much damage to this region. He has embezzled a lot of funds, and it is not fair for him to continue to act and to do any or to perform any functions of the CEO in this region. I think we’ve made that loud and clear to all the relevant authorities that the CEO should be removed from BAC and that’s what I told the commissioner, is that what you’ve seen is the frustration of representatives who have been elected by a lot of people to come to this council. If the people who elected them and brought them here see this frustration in them today, what do you think will happen? Every one of them will match to this council and every one of them could descend on Jonga,” he said.