P’ment summons Kenema Mayor
DECEMBER 17, 2014 By Mohamed Massaquoi
The Sierra Leone Parliament has reportedly summoned the Mayor of Kenema, His Worship Joseph S. Keifala, following public allegation that lawmakers didn’t ratify the 2015 budget allocation to the Kenema City Council because he had refused to pay money they had asked for.
The Kenema Mayor yesterday (15 December) claimed on Radio Democracy FM 98.1 that Members of Parliament had refused to endorse his council’s budget allocation because he refused to bribe them the sum of Le20 million. He did not however name the MPs he claimed had asked him for a bribe.
Mayor Keifala told Concord Times last evening in a telephone interview from Kenema that he was ready to face the parliamentarians to substantiate claims that some members had solicited bribes from him in exchange for rubber-stamping their 2015 budget.
Lawmakers last week endorsed all but one (Kenema City Council) of the 19 budgets presented by local councils across the country.
The outspoken mayor said it was in the interest of Sierra Leoneans and the country for lawmakers to work, not in their personnel interest, but that of the masses whom they represent in Parliament, adding that withholding the annual budget of the Kenema City Council “for no good reason” was a clear manifestation that “there is still a serious gap in the fight against corruption” in the country.
“I am coming to Freetown on the invitation of our elected MPs, we must put a stop to this and I am ready for it,” Keifala vowed.
When Concord Times called the Chairman of the Finance and Appropriation Committee in Parliament, Hon. Hassan Sheriff, to comment on the mayor’s claim, he decided not to, instead referring the newspaper to the Public Relations Unit of the House.
“It is important that you talk to the PRO of Parliament,” Hon. Sheriff said before quickly hanging up.
The mayor’s allegation on the breakfast show of the popular radio station has got Sierra Leoneans talking, with the issue being a major talking point on social media. Sentiments though are divided for and against the mayor, who is a member of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
According to Executive Director of Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Valnora Edwin, they are particularly concerned about the development, albeit the statement is yet an allegation against certain unidentified MPs.
“We do not actually expect this to happen; this is not the first time to have got such a report from organizations or members of the public, but it is always good to have substantial evidence to prove the allegation,” said the head of CGG. “However, we are following up the matter and we hope the mayor can prove his case for the intervention of the ACC.”