As Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was defecting to Deputy President William Ruto’s camp on Tuesday, detectives were finalising investigations into corruption allegations at the county government, which could see her arrested as early as next week.
Also, likely to be charged alongside Waiguru are county Chief Finance Officer Mugo Ndathi, Kirinyaga County Assembly Speaker Anthony Gathumbi, Leader of Majority James Murango and chairman of the Budget Committee at the county assembly David Mathenge, all who, coincidentally or by design, accompanied her to Ruto’s Karen residence to officially defect to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) on Tuesday.
Waiguru, like several Ruto allies, has previously accused the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) of engaging in selective prosecution targeting the DP’s allies allegedly due to their political affiliation, allegations the two agencies have repeatedly dismissed.
The anti-corruption commission has concluded investigations into the planned payment of millions of shillings for a dubious land survey tender by the Kirinyaga County government and payment of questionable allowances to the governor and county officials.
The commission has since recommended the arrest and prosecution of Waiguru, Ndathi, Gathumbi, Murango and Mathenge for their role in the alleged scandal.
They are expected to answer to charges of conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, false accounting, deception and forgery.
EACC sleuths, after perusing the two files, had concluded that they have a water-tight case against the governor and other county officials.
Yesterday, EACC confirmed that it had completed investigations and planned to hand over the files to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) Noordin Haji any time next week.
The commission further dismissed claims that the investigations were motivated by witch hunt as opposed to credible evidence of financial impropriety.
“EACC is an independent institution and not bound by individual, personal wishes and desires.
“We (EACC) shall proceed with the due process of the law as we investigate the matters as required by our mandate and forward the completed files (against the governor) to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) anytime,” EACC spokesperson Yassin Amaro told our reporter, dismissing claims that the move was political.
In one of the cases, EACC detectives accuse the governor of planning to make an irregular payment of ksh52.8 million to a land surveying company for the subdivision of New South Ngariama Scheme in 2006.
EACC says the company which was to receive the millions, known as GeoAcres Survey Limited, which is owned by former Kirinyaga Central MP Joseph Gachoki Gitari and Edith Gitari did not have a contractual agreement with either Kirinyaga County government or the defunct Kirinyaga Municipal Council.
Further, at the time the company is reported to have won the tender, which was to be at a cost of ksh4,500 per acre, it was not qualified because by then, it was not registered by the Land Survey Board.
EACC further argues that the planned payment of ksh52.8 million was highly exaggerated and that the tender was worth only ksh20.4 million.
The file, “Inquiry into the allegations of corruption in making irregular payments of ksh52 million pending bills by the county”, alleges that a County Assets and Liability Committee was set up to look into the pending bills by the county government with members comprising the clerk of the county assembly, county commissioner and a representative of the National Land Commission (NLC).
Also, to be charged is the County Assembly Clerk, John Aidi.
On September 9, Waiguru was summoned to the EACC headquarters at Integrity Centre, where she recorded a statement on the allegations.
Addressing the press after a session with detectives, Waiguru described the summons as “ill-timed, politically instigated and have nothing to do with the purported investigations on misappropriation of funds”.
She maintained that while the county assembly had allocated ksh52 million “to offset the outstanding amount and secure release of the survey maps and completing of the titling process” and the matter deliberated and approved by the county executive due to public interest, “no shilling has been paid and, therefore, no monies have been lost”.
“It is now obvious EACC is being used to intimidate us to remain silent even when our political careers are on the line and our supporters tell us otherwise,” she said in a three-page statement.
She further claimed at the time that she and county officials had so far received 250 summons from EACC.
The commission has also concluded investigations into allegations of impropriety in the payment of travel imprests running into millions of shillings.
EACC has recommended that the governor, Ndathi and other officials refund the cash they received illegally or face abuse of office charges.
On this particular allegation, Waiguru could be charged as the receiving principal, detectives privy to the probe confided in People Daily.
The anti-graft agency says Waiguru received ksh10 million as travel imprest for non-existent trips.
During the period, she is reported to have travelled to the United States, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, India, Germany and Abu Dhabi, trips which the EACC says never took place despite the governor and county officials pocketing approximately ksh20.9 million in allowances.
Only about ksh12 million of this amount was accounted for, according to the detectives.
In the purported trips, EACC says, there were no letters of invitation, the purpose of the trips was unknown, no approved work plans, no itinerary, not all trips had letters of appointment or nominations or authority to travel outside the country, and that the imprests were neither surrendered nor supported by payment vouchers and boarding passes. There were also no back-to-office reports.
The issue of the trips was part of the charges which were levelled against the governor by MCAs during the successful impeachment motion filed at the county assembly last year, which was, however, overturned by the Senate citing insufficient grounds.
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