Basse Area Council Case: URR Governor Omar Khan Testifies in Court
URR Governor Omar Khan testifies in court
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Alhagie Omar Khan, Governor of the Upper River Region (URR), yesterday testified in the trial of one Omar Sompo Ceesay at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court.
Omar Sompo Ceesay, former chairman of Basse Area Council, is being tried for the offence of giving false information to a public servant.
Testifying as the first prosecution witness (PW1), Governor Khan told the court that he has being the governor of the Upper River Region (URR) since April 2004, and he has been working with the accused person for the past four years.
“In September 2011, a team of investigation officers came to Basse as a result of the petition the accused person submitted to the Office of the President against me,’’ he said.
He added that when the investigation officers came, they informed him that he lobbied for one Yusupha Manneh to be transferred from the Ministry of Local Government and Lands to Basse Area Council as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Governor Khan said he was also told that he had recommended one Pa Amadou Susso to be appointed as chairman of Basse Area Council, adding that as governor it was not his responsibility or duty to effect the transfer of any civil servant appointed by the Public Service Commission, but instead it’s the Ministry of Local Government and Lands.
The Governor asserted that he had never lobbied for Yusupha Manneh to be transferred to Basse Area Council.
“I happened to know of Yusupha Manneh’s appointment when I saw his appointment letter at the Ministry of Local Government and Lands,” Governor stated. He told the court that there was a letter from the Ministry of Local Government and Lands addressed to governors and mayors, requesting them to recommend members of local services commission in their respective regions.
He said after that process, Pa Amadou Susso’s appointment was approved by the Minister of Local Government and Lands.
He added that when the positions were being created, the accused person was not in the council and all these positions were being created by the respective councils, not the governor.
At that juncture, Governor Khan was shown two letters, which he confirmed as the letters from the Ministry, and they were tendered and marked as exhibits.
Governor Khan also told the court that the whole problem between him and the BAC chairman was that the Basse Area Council violated section 12 of the Local Government Act.
He added that Basse Area Council took upon themselves to increase their allowances without taking note of section 12 of the Local Government Act.
He said the allowances allocated for the councils was D1,000 and it was increase to D1,500 upon appeal made by the councils regarding allowance increment, and that this excluded the Kanifing Municipal Council, Banjul City Council and Brikama Area Council respectively.
Governor Khan noted that instead of complying with the Minister’s directives to pay allowances of D1, 500, the Basse Area Council took upon themselves to increase allowances to D3, 000, adding that he immediately asked the CEO to stop it, which he did.
He added that the chairman also took it upon himself, instead of paying himself D5, 000 as approved by the National Assembly, he paid himself D6, 600, which is not fair.
“It was my responsibility as a Governor of the URR to correct any wrong doing in my region, and exactly this was what I did, and the in fighting started between the governor’s office and Basse Area Council,” Governor added.
“I believed this petition was part of infighting, otherwise the accused person would not write a petition to the Office of the President,” he went on.
The particulars of offence stated that Omar Sompo Ceesay, in August 2011 in Banjul, wrote a petition to the Office of the President at State House, claiming that the Governor of Upper River Region(URR) Omar khan, lobbied for the transfer of Yusupha Manneh (CEO) to Basse Area Council, that the governor recommended Pa Amadou Susso to the Ministry of Local Government and Lands for the chairmanship of the Local Government Service Commission, that Mr. Khan as a governor instructed the council to create the internal audit office, that no development was registered since the appointment of Yusupha Manneh as CEO of Basse Area Council, knowing the said information to be false and thereby committed an offence.
The case was adjourned till 23rd January 2011, for cross-examination.
Author: Bakary Samateh; The Point