What you need to know:
- Senators say there is little to show in the county for Sh140bn received during Kingi’s tenure.
Senate Speaker Amason Kingi is facing investigations over the expenditure of Sh140 billion received by Kilifi County during his 10-year tenure as the governor.
This follows revelations of widespread financial malpractices during a Senate watchdog committee sitting, with senators calling for the ex-governor to be summoned.
Some of the cases flagged by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu include a Sh900 million legal fee claim from a lawyer who represented the county government in a Sh300 million case and a Sh300 million revenue collection contract with Rain Drop Limited in 2014 where the firm has continued to receive Sh4 million monthly since December 2016.
In 2015, the county wired Sh51 million to six companies using the Integrated Financial Management Information System at night contrary to the law.
Appearing before the Senate County Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Governor Gideon Mung’aro painted the picture of a “rotten and run-down county government”.
Committee chairperson and Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ said it was impossible to demonstrate what Sh14 billion annually has done in Kilifi.
“The county has received more than Sh140 billion in the last 10 years which should have turned around the lives of residents, but what we have to show for the billions is a palatial residence for the governor,” said Mr Kajwang’.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah described the county government under Mr Kingi as a “crime scene” where funds meant for the residents were allegedly siphoned.
“What I have seen is heartbreaking and explains why Kilifi people lack even basic services. We must summon the former office holders starting with the former governor. Mr Kingi was presiding over a criminal enterprise and he has to answer for its,” he said.
Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo told the committee that Mr Mung’aro inherited empty coffers and he is now grappling with a litany of corrupt deals by the previous administration.
Mr Mung’aro told the committee that he is yet to have access the details of the 15-year contract with Rain Drops, more than one year later. He said that the firm has instead taken the county government to court and is holding onto Sh600 million in the two escrow accounts it was using to deposit cess and parking fees collections, claiming it is owed Sh704 million.
“The firm is no longer collecting any revenue for us but continues to withdraw money from the account in the pretext of paying their workers,” said the governor.
According to the auditor-general, the firm refused to provide a detailed report on the operation of the two escrow accounts even as the audit revealed Sh122.4 million in unexplained variances.
“It is sad that the county is losing Sh48 million annually to pay these crooks who do nothing,” said Mr Kajwang’.
Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka claimed the contract was signed by the previous administration to siphon money. “This was a deliberate attempt to ensure the agreement is signed in a manner that the service provider continues to withdraw money no matter what,” he said
Mr Kajwang added: “It is clear from the onset that the agreement was designed to steal from Kilifi people and that even if one went to court, they would still lose as traps were left.”
On the pending legal bills, Mr Mung’aro expressed concerns over suspicious judgments given against the county government.
“Most of these awards are due to non-appearances by the county legal team, which is really suspicious to me. Guys who took us to court had a field day,” he said
He said the first invoice he received on his desk was a Sh1.1 billion from the county attorney from a lawyer. He subsequently suspended the payments and relieved the county attorney of her job, and suspended the director of procurement and 13 other officers.
Mr Omtatah said that the legal fees charged indicated a clear collusion between the county and the lawyers concerned. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said that paying between Sh800 million to Sh1.1billion to one lawyer is unacceptable.
The committee ordered that the county government disclose all its liabilities arising from legal matters and an audit of all payments made in regard to legal fees be audited.