COUNTY OFFICIALS UNDER PROBE OVER LOSS OF MILLIONS~ Via Sunday Nation
Details of how top officials in various counties may have swindled the public out of millions of shilling can now be revealed.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has prepared a report detailing how public money was stolen through irregular deals and shoddy procurement.
The report implicates top officials in 28 county governments in corruption. The affected counties include Isiolo, Migori, Trans Nzoia, Makueni, Nyeri and Siaya. The report is dated August 13 and has details on individual counties and the allegations levelled against their officials.
In Isiolo, for instance, the anti-corruption commission is investigating officials on allegations that the tender for the proposed rehabilitation of a public baraza park was riddled with corruption, abuse of procurement regulations, bid rigging and conflict of interest. It is also said that the project stalled for unclear reasons.
Officials of the same county government are also being investigated on claims that they produced a fraudulent document purported to be a supplementary appropriation budget.
The officials are also being investigated for alleged payroll manipulation and irregular appointment and promotion of individuals.
Another county government that is under the EACC radar is Homa Bay, whose officials, including Governor Cyprian Awiti, are accused of irregularly paying Sh200 million to an investor for the proposed Agro City project without a feasibility study being conducted.
“This was allegedly a ploy to embezzle funds as the said project has stalled and the investors reportedly disappeared soon after the funds were transferred to them,” the report says.
In Nairobi, the commission is looking into claims of procurement irregularities in the signing of an agreement with Foton East Africa.
It is alleged that Governor Evans Kidero signed a deal worth Sh4.6 billion with the firm for the establishment of a metro transport system through a flawed process.
Besides that, five officials including County Secretary Lillian Ndegwa and Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Kiamba, who is said to have gained massive wealth in a short period, are already facing charges of abuse of office.
Another place where corruption cases are being pursued is Migori County. According to the report, the county’s top officials, including Governor Okoth Obado, were involved in procurement irregularities.
One such case is the award of a contract to Speedway to supply and deliver water pipes, where payments of Sh7 million were made before the delivery.
Another case involves alleged irregularities in the procurement of furniture for the governor’s residence.
A Sh20.9 contract was given to Arryan Ltd using alternative procurement procedure without prior authorisation, according to the report.
In addition, the officials allegedly invited quotations from firms that had not been pre-qualified.
Migori County officials are also being investigated over irregularities in the purchase of tractors and motorcycles for Sh15.3 million.
The goods were procured through restricted tendering and no justifying reason was provided for using the method, the report says.
Further, the officials are being investigated over the procurement of motor vehicle insurance worth Sh7.9 million and allegations of other improprieties and misuse of public funds.
Another county mentioned in the dossier is Makueni, where seven officials from different departments are to be prosecuted on claims that the Kikima dairy milk processing project was implemented without following proper procurement procedures and exceeded a budget set by the county government.
The EACC says this is a ghost project.
It is also alleged that six county assembly members from Kibwezi West constituency went on a private trip to Dubai sponsored by their MP and on return, they conspired with Speaker Mutunga Ngelu and Clerk Edward Libendi and were paid full per diem for the trip.
The county assembly is also accused of spending Sh10 million on a medical cover for 48 members with AAR medical services. However, the cover never existed for the assembly members, according to the ethics agency.
Trans Nzoia County is also under scrutiny over corruption allegations in five cases. These include the alleged irregular award of a tender for the renovation of Kenyatta Stadium in Kitale to West End Company for Sh68 million.
Another case involves the county clerk. “It is alleged that Clerk Ainea Indakwa has attempted to award M/S Johncele Insurance Brokers a contract for Sh20 million for a cover for WIBA (Work Injury Benefit Act), fire and peril burglary, group life and motor insurance,” the report states.
It is also alleged that the Trans Nzoia County government irregularly acquired a house in Kitale at an exorbitant cost of Sh500 million on the pretext that it would be used as Kitale Referral Hospital.
The EACC is also investigating alleged misappropriation of funds, including Sh3 million at the county assembly.
[16/08 11:58 pm] Salad Malicha: The Nyeri County government is also on the spot. According to the report, detectives are looking into the purchase of vehicles from Toyota Kenya, for the county assembly, and furniture from Seiwa Furniture and Interior Design Ltd.
In Kiambu, the commission is investigating claims that officials attempted to pay Sh2.3 million for works that never existed in the construction of the Kineni-Karatina footbridge.
It is also inquiring into claims that former Speaker Nick Ndichu used public funds worth Sh600,000 for a trip to Brazil.
In Kisumu, the award of a 15-year Sh1.2 billion tender for solid waste management to Madam R. Enterprise in 2013 is still under investigation.
In Nandi, there are claims of irregular payment of Sh22 million to county employees’ personal accounts. Top officials are also being investigated over the misappropriation of Sh30 million in construction and fencing of 21 markets.
In Siaya, officials are being investigated over claims of irregularities in a tender for the erection of a wall at the county headquarters at Sh10.4 million and payment of Sh13.5 million for solar street lights. It is also alleged that there were irregularities in the award of a Sh22.5 million tender for pre-fabricated offices.
In Machakos, the commission is investigating claims of single-sourcing for renovation and refurbishment of executive committee members’ offices and other projects.
We’re putting measures in place to prevent graft, says ethics agency chief
Besides investigations and prosecution, the anti-corruption commission is focusing on measures to prevent corruption in counties, chief executive Halakhe Waqo said.
“In the war against corruption, besides law enforcement, there is that preventive focus that we are putting a lot of energy in and one of the ways is by staying closer to the counties.
“We have opened 10 regional offices and we are moving into having programmes in counties for preventive and educative purposes as well as ethics and leadership purposes,” he told the Nation.
He said by taking services to the counties, the fight against corruption would become easier. The EACC is also participating in training county officers on integrity issues.
“The other thing we are doing is conducting educative and outreach programmes in these counties. These are preventive purposes. We are training the whole of the county workforce.”
County officials are being trained on how to work well with their financial and human resource systems that are normally prone to misuse.
“We train the executives, chief officers, county assembly members, county assembly staff and county assembly service boards.
“We also conduct systems reviews, which is like an audit programme focusing in all areas in counties,” he said.
The commission is also helping to train county corruption prevention committees and integrity assurance officers.
Recently, the Auditor-General released a report exposing how public funds were misused.
The alleged misuse of funds by the county governments and assemblies is believed to have created “instant village millionaires” in many regions.
The report prepared by Auditor-General Edward Ouko exposed massive corruption and careless spending that disregarded existing procurement regulations.
According to the EACC, almost every county government has flouted tender rules and violated staffing guidelines.
In the 2013/14 financial year, the government devolved a number of roles, put assets worth billions of shillings in the hands of county executives and disbursed a total of Sh210 billion to the 47 units.
Recently, the ethics agency called for the suspension of Nairobi County Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Mutuku Kiamba after millions of shillings were allegedly found in his bank accounts.
Mr Kiamba, who was said to be earning a monthly salary of Sh85,000, was suspected to have been a beneficiary of corruption.
“EACC has suspected fraudulent transactions through accounts held by Mr Kiamba, who is the chief finance officer of Nairobi County and whose only known source of income is a gross salary of Sh85,000 per month,” EACC said when seeking the freezing of the accounts.
Mr Kiamba’s two bank accounts with CFC Stanbic bank were allegedly used to transact more than Sh400 million between January and November 2014.
He also owned properties including houses and plots in Nairobi, according to the commission. His case is currently in court