United in theft: How county officers siphon public funds
6 months ago, 24 June 00:05
?Since 2013, Kenya has spent more than Sh1 trillion on devolution, an ambitious pro-people initiative initially meant to take development down to millions starved of progress by a centralised, score-settling governance system.
However, five years later, devolution has proven a poisoned chalice some Kenyans continue to drink from. Some counties have become the new operating havens of corruption for governors and a litany of their followers.
Billions of public funds end up in the pockets of a few, newly wealthy individuals. Data from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) ties a number of former and current governors to the wanton plunder.
Throughout the country, governors, speakers, clerks and MCAs continue to collude to steal as much as they can from public coffers. Agencies charged with investigating, arresting or prosecuting the corrupt often form a large part of this narrative.
Of these cases, a curious one stands out. That of Kisii County, whose administration stands accused of misusing bursary funds over two financial years, a missing car and mortgages grant, ghost projects that have been paid for, as well as the incredible disappearance of an entire development budget running into billions of shillings.
The grand heist was only as a result of several smaller heists, all leading up to this big one.
On December 19, 2016, Kisii MCAs held a special sitting published through gazette notice No. 10580, to among other issues, deliberate on the fate of Sh110 million missing from the County Assembly Car and Mortgage Fund Account.
The Auditor General, in his report for the financial year 2014/15, had raised queries on how the fund was being managed and whether the full disbursement, a Sh350 million lump sum, had been deposited in the fund account.
In his reply to the audit queries by the Auditor General, the county clerk insisted that all payments had been made into the fund account of a local bank.
But the MCAs were still not getting their money, thus the request for the special sitting. Two MCAs, one former and another sitting, confirmed to Sunday Standard that the special sittings never took place. The MCAs were paid off not to attend.
“Eventually, the days gazette for the special sitting ended without any headway. We never had quorum,” Ronald Oduso, who at one point was the chair of the county’s Public Accounts Committee, said.
Investigations by Sunday Standard however reveal that information submitted by the clerk to the Auditor General with regard to the county executive depositing the entire Sh350 million to the fund account might have been falsified.
On December 1, and under pressure from some MCAs, then Speaker James Nyaoga wrote to Kisii branch manager of Chase Bank seeking to find out whether the money had indeed been paid out.
“Reference is made to the Auditor General’s Report of 2014/15…it is indicated in the report that you received Sh110 million on behalf of Kisii County Treasury. The purpose of this letter is to confirm whether you received the said ...
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