Eight former senior Isiolo County officials, including three chief officers, arrested on Wednesday by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) have denied 12 counts of corruption related to a Sh58.5 million procurement of a fire engine.
The accused, who appeared before Isiolo Chief Magistrate Lucy Mutai, denied charges of failure to comply with procurement laws, abuse of office and unlawful acquisition of public property.
Each was released on a bond of Sh3 million and a surety of a similar amount or in the alternative, Sh400,000 cash bail. The matter will be mentioned on February 6, 2024.
They include Peter Ngechu Muhuha (former chief officer, finance), Ahmed Ali (former head of treasury), Jibril Hassan and Augustine Kariuki Gatebu (accountants), Adano Salad Kadubo (former chief officer, public works), Linus Gichunge Thuranira (former county legal adviser) and Yusuf Mohamed Galgalo (also former chief officer, finance).
The eighth suspect, former Head of Supply Chain Management, Dr Salad Kikuyu Sarite, surrendered to EACC detectives early Thursday morning and was arraigned alongside his former colleagues.
The former officials were among 13 suspects charged with the above-mentioned offences. Five other suspects remain at large; Qanchora Roba (former Chief Finance Officer), John Thuranira Nkuraru (Supply Chain Management Assistant), Ali Godana Wako (former Town Administrator), Kennedy Macharia Murimi (Transport Officer) and Bashir Hassan Abey (Director, Drescoll Limited). The Magistrate issued warrants for their arrest.
Supply of a fire engine
EACC's investigation established that the suspects engaged in a flawed procurement process in the 2018/19 financial year, to fraudulently award the tender worth Sh58.5 million to Drescoll Limited for the supply of a fire engine.
The investigation also revealed that the same contractor is at the centre of a related investigation in Marsabit County, involving a Sh62 million tender for the supply of a fire engine.
A report detailing the corrupt dealings was submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who agreed with the anti-corruption watchdog's recommendations to charge the 13 suspects.
Mr Ngechu, Ali, Hassan and Gatebu were processed at EACC's Isiolo regional offices and later detained at Isiolo Central Police Station pending arraignment, while Adano, Gichunge and Mohamed were questioned at EACC headquarters in Nairobi and detained at Integrity Centre Police Station on Wednesday. They were all reunited at the docks on Thursday morning to face the graft charges.