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CS Monica Juma, Githu Muigai Sued Over Audit Queries – MPs

Kenya’s High ranking State officers including a Cabinet Secretary could lose their jobs if recommendations of a parliamentary watchdog are approved and implemented.

In an unprecedented move and buoyed by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-corruption war, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee has incriminated several accounting officers for dubious expenditures during the Jubilee administration’s first term.

Top on the list is Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, former Attorney General Githu Muigai and several Principal secretaries indicted by the auditor general’s report for Financial Year 2014/2015.

Among the PSs incriminated by the PAC are Cooperatives PS Ali Ismail Noor, Petroleum Chief Administrative Secretary John Musonik and the Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi.

The report also nails PSs already dropped from the government —Nduva Muli (Transport), Richard Lesiyampe (Environment), Khadijah Kassachom (Health) and Richard Ekai (Sports).

Juma, who served as Interior PS at the time in indicted for a Sh1.7 billion comprehensive group life insurance cover for the Police and Prisons services.

Read: Devolution ministry fails to account for Sh100 billion

The committee report reveals that Juma awarded the lucrative tender to one of the highest bidders at Sh1.74 billion, although it was almost three times higher than the lowest bid of Sh629 million.

Apart from the alleged tender flaw, PAC says the contract was hurriedly signed against the law.

The committee led by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has recommended that EACC and the DCI should investigate the entire procurement process.

“Much as a provision of Comprehensive Group Life Insurance Cover for National Police and Kenya Prisons Service Staff was particularly required, the Accounting Officer erred and did not adhere to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005,” PAC says.

“She [Juma] should, therefore, be investigated with a view to being prosecuted, if found culpable.”

A section of Mt Kenya politicians led by Kandara MP Alice Wahome had alleged that a firm linked to Juma’s husband, academician Peter Kagwanja, had an interest in the insurance contract.

Kagwanja dismissed the allegations.

In what is perhaps the strongest rebuke, PAC says Ismail, who worked as Labour PS, has “consistently demonstrated his inability to manage public finances.”

As a result, the committee says the PS lacks the capacity to be an accounting officer, setting the stage for his dismissal.

“The Cabinet Secretary National Treasury should never at any time appoint Ali Noor Ismail as an Accounting Officer for any State Department/Government Agency. If Mr Noor is presently an accounting officer, his appointment should be revoked within three months of adoption of this report,” notes the report.

The committee directs that EACC and DCI probes Sh5.2 million purportedly paid by the Ministry of Labour for the procurement of advertising and flowers.

Noor paid the Sh5.2 million as part of pending bills without any payment vouchers.

In particular, the committee has directed that the former Principal Secretary be investigated in connection with the illegal payments and be surcharged if he fails to provide supporting documents.

Further, the report says Noor should also be held responsible for issuing a further imprest of Sh1.574 million to officers who had not surrendered previous imprests.

He should also be held liable for not recovering an outstanding imprest of Sh2.5 million.

JUDICIARY

Judiciary Registrar Anne Amadi is also in trouble over Sh69.8 million for the construction and refurbishment of law courts in Eldama Ravine.

The Committee notes that some tender documents were not typed and had alterations which cast doubt on the credibility of the whole tender process.

The committee says should Amadi fail to provide an explanation within three months, she should be charged.

At the Industrialization ministry, the watchdog committee wants former PS Wilson Songa held accountable for the procurement messes and loss of public funds.

The committee wants Songa prosecuted for irregularly paying a total of Sh6.4 million to M/s Aquachem Technologies Limited in the 2011/2012 financial year.

The panel noted that Sh2.9 remains pending after Sh3.5 million was recovered from the merchant.

Former Attorney General Githu Muigai is on the spot for approving payment of legal fees for services rendered by a law firm to a different government entity.

The panel questioned why the Industrialization ministry paid Sh29.1 million as legal fees to Messrs Iseme Kamau and Maema Advocates yet the law firm rendered the services to East African Portland Cement Ltd.

“Where no satisfactory explanation is provided to the CS, National Treasury and Auditor General within the stipulated time, Wilson Songa and Prof. Githu Muigai should be prosecuted for financial misconduct relating to incurring expenditure without lawful authority contrary to s.197(1)(h) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012,” reads the report.

At the same time, the committee wants the EACC and DCI to start investigations into the Sh27.7 million tender by the ministry of environment for the erection of perimeter walls at various meteorological stations across the country.

The stations fenced included Moyale, Marsabit, Kericho, Nganyi, Eldoret, Makindu, Matungu and Kakamega.

The committee questions why the ministry in collaboration with the Department of Public Works used restricted instead of tendering to award the contract.

The committee wants ex-PS Richard Lesiyampe to provide convincing reasons why various suppliers delivered seedlings valued at Sh34.9 million without signed delivery notes.

Also on the cross is the Petroleum ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary John Mosonik for his decisions while PS for Infrastructure.

According to the committee, the ministry made various payments amounting to Sh392 million without original receipts.

“He should further be held liable for making refunds totalling KSh55,450,449.02 in FY2014/15 to contractors without proof of completion of works contrary to the PFM Act 2012,” the Wandayi-led committee recommended.

HEALTH

The committee has further recommended that EACC investigates the entire procurement process for the upgrading of Othaya District Hospital awarded for Sh578.5 million.

The contract was initially awarded for Sh436.3 million but was varied despite the scope of work has reduced.

“The Accounting officer during the period under review, Dr Khadijah Kassachom, must liaise with the substantive Accounting Officer to provide an explanation to the Auditor General for incurring wasteful expenditure on behalf of the government,” the committee ordered.

The report also recommends that Kassachom is surcharged for Sh93,541,451being expenditure “incurred without lawful authority.”

Kasachom was among the PSs dropped by Uhuru after his re-election last year.

Also in trouble is former Sports PS Richard Ekai for bankrolling some three unregistered sports organisations with Sh42.9 million.

The organisations are Kenya National Sports Council, Sofapaka football club and Football Kenya Federation.

According to the law, an existing sports organization that does not apply for registration is not recognized.

“The EACC and DCI should investigate the disbursement of funds amounting to KSh42,979,650 to an organization that had not been registered in compliance with the Sports Act 2013 with a view to establishing whether there was a breach of the procurement laws and facilitating prosecution accordingly,” the committee states.

Ekai is also in trouble for failing to include Sh29.9 million allegedly incurred during the 20th Commonwealth Games in the 2013/2014 pending bills.

Curiously, the money is reflected as part of pending bills in the 2014/2015 financial year and is alleged to have been spent on air ticket bookings and other miscellaneous expenses.

The panel wants the investigating agencies to move with speed and conduct the probe within three months with a view of prosecuting all those culpable.

The committee ordered that the auditor general conducts a comprehensive performance audit to determine whether the government was getting value for money in the vehicle leasing programme.

The directive followed the realisation that some vehicles in garages were drawing fuel while still grounded, raising concern that transport officers could be colluding with drivers to fuel private vehicles using government fuel cards.

Treasury leases vehicles on behalf of the National Police Service.

The panel also recommended that Treasury PS Kamau Thugge is reprimanded for accumulating pending bills totalling Sh632.3 million at the National Treasury for FY2014/2015 contrary to the provisions of the PFM Act, 2012.

Thugge was also criticized for failing to manage interests and ensuring they are surrendered in time. Imprests amounting to Sh3.2 million that were due were not recovered within the stipulated time as per the provisions of PFM Act.

The committee also found that investigations into the receipts, accounting and use of funds related to the Sovereign/Eurobond are moving at a snail’s pace.

The committee wants Auditor General Ouko to conclude the investigations and submit the progress or final report to Parliament within three months of its adoption.

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