Counsel Gomez grills witness over revenue assessment reports

Mar 12, 2024, 11:08 AM | Article By: Ali Jaw

Counsel Patrick Gomez of the Local Government Commission of Inquiry (LGCI) yesterday intensely questioned Mr Samba M.K. Leigh, who served as CEO of the Janjangbureh Area Council, over a set of suspicious issues under his tenure.

One of the issues regarding the annual projection or assessment of revenue, Mr Leigh had double spells with the Janjangbureh Area Council as CEO - 2016 to 2021 and 2023 to date. He had previously admitted to the LGCI that the Financial Manual was not strictly followed during his tenure.

During reappearance before the LGCI yesterday, he was first probed on revenue assessments. He was asked how they carried out revenue assessments.

In his testimony, he explained that assessments are done yearly: “Every year, we would do our assessment of the council. For example, if at all a business man paid the other year D500 or D2,500, we make sure that this year, we will charge him at least D3,000.”

“How do you conduct assessment? Do you have a team that will go, conduct the assessment and prepare a report, or what format do you adopt?” council Gomez posed. The witness responded that they had a team.

Submitting to the counsel’s request to explain clearly, he said: [For] me, what I do [is] mobilise the councillors. They would go with the revenue collectors. It would be a team. Then they would register all businesses around our region, and we have a business register for it. Now it is submitted to the office after the registration.”

On whether he thinks that revenue collectors would give a fair representation of the expected revenue, he said they did, adding: “Because normally, if they are back, we compare the last year’s assessment and this year’s assessment. We compare them.”

The witness was asked if there were reports, which he positively affirmed.

Thus, he was asked about the assessment report for 2018. He briefly went through his pile of documents but did not bring any document out. He said unless he goes back to the council and check.

“Are you saying there is a report for the assessment for 2018, an assessment report exists [for that year]?” Counsel Gomez posed again, but the witness said the “registers are there to confirm”.

“No, I am asking you as the CEO in 2018. Is there a report for 2018 in respect to the revenue assessment?” Counsel Gomez asked again.

Mr Leigh answered: “There should be. This is done yearly. Every year, we used to do it.

“Mr Leigh, whether there should be is not the question because the law says there should be one. Whether you as CEO did the assessment in 2018 is the question. If the answer is yes, there will be a report and which you will have to provide,” the counsel repeated, insisting that the witness answer the proper question.

Seemingly cornered, the witness finally responded directly, affirming that there is a report for 2018. He was therefore asked to provide it to the Commission. He was equally asked to provide the revenue assessment report for 2019, 2020 and 2021, which was the year he left the council.

He was asked to give a timeline as to when he would provide them to the Commission. He said he would do when discharged by the Commission.

Chairperson Jainaba Bah intervened, ordering him to provide them on Thursday.