Presidential Hajj Package Scandal Chief Baldeh Allegedly Bribes Lover

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Boto Fatajo of Saruja village in the provincial-Central River region of The Gambia has accused Lower Fulladu district chief, Mamadou Lamin Baldeh of issuing hajj ticket to his alleged extra marital partner.
The Gambian president Yahya Jammeh sponsors a number of Gambian Muslims to embark on annual pilgrimage to Mecca. This gesture is often channeled through local government authorities.
“I was informed beforehand that a hajj ticket was sent for me to go to Mecca, but the chief took it and gave it out to his lover,” Boto alleged.
She made this allegation while speaking to this paper at Medina Umfally village following the postponement of the annual general meeting of the Rice Farmers Cooperative Society of CRR.
But chief Baldeh denied allegations that the woman that benefited from this year’s Presidential hajj package is his lover.
“I was phoned by Governor Ganyi Touray [of CRR] to identify one woman in my district to go to Mecca,” he explained. “And at the time of the phone call, I was with ###, so I gave the hajj ticket to her.”
Meanwhile, Boto’s allegation offers a glimpse into the simmering discontent among CRR rice farmers over the way the executive of the Rice Farmers Cooperative Society has been managing their affairs.
The village of the Medina Umfally where the AGM was scheduled to take place nearly burst into chaos after it was announced that the AGM could not hold as even half of the members present could not fit in space allocated for the event.
In fact, the meeting came hot on the heels of members insistence for the executive to furnish them with details of the financial status of the Society,’ says our correspondent.
 Rice farmers had earlier convened a meeting on May 8, 2011 over the issue, but the district chief, who is a member of the executive, allegedly instructed some policemen to disallow the meeting.
The farmers however showed no sign of respite in their quest to hold the executive accountable as a teeming mass of members converged yet again at the same venue venting out their frustrations.
There are allegations that the executive sold a truck and excavator donated to the society by ActionAid The Gambia, but failed to account for the money accrued.
Concerns are being raised over the executive committee’s failure to provide reports on the society’s income and expenditure and related information for seven years.
According to the AG deputy director of Agric business, Cherno A Mballo cooperative societies are required by law prepare financial statements, which should give true and fair view of the state of affairs of the society’s operations.
He noted that they concluded their audit in accordance with the provisions of the cooperative society’s Act and international auditing standards.
“In my opinion, the financial statements do not show a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the society as at 31st December, 2008 to 2010 and of its surplus and cash flows for the years ended and do not comply with the cooperative society’s Act 50;02 of 1990,” he says.
Meanwhile, the AGM has been scheduled for tomorrow – Thursday Jan.5 at Brikama Senior Secondary School premises.
Author: Mamadou S Jallow
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