EACC asked to probe Sh1bn expenditure by Migori County Assembly

Moses Kajwang'

Senate County Public Accounts Committee chairperson Moses Kajwang' (centre) and members Edwin Sifuna (left) and Methu John Muhia (right) during a session at KICC in Nairobi on October 9, 2023. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

A Senate watchdog committee wants the anti-graft commission to conduct a special audit into Sh1.18 billion unsupported expenditure by the Migori County Assembly.

The Senate County Public Accounts Committee also wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to liaise with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to ensure prosecution of officers found culpable of financial misappropriation.

This comes after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu flagged various financial malpractices by the assembly between 2018 and 2020.

In two reports, covering the financial years ended June 2019 and June 2020, Ms Gathungu indicated that the assembly had failed to account for Sh987 million expended during the fiscal year ended June 2019.

Appearing before the committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ yesterday, auditors said the assembly had failed to provide documentary evidence on how the millions were spent during the period under review.

The Sh987 million was the allocation to the assembly for the period under review.

Assembly officials said they could not trace the expenditure records because of a fire incident and “stealing of records” by a former county official.

In what he termed a “black hole” fiscal year, Mr Kajwang’ said the anti-graft agency should look at how the money was used.

“Migori has become a county where if fire is not burning records then the Speaker is stealing records. Some people have to be taken to court then later jailed for this to stop,” he said.

“If people are found culpable for the financial misappropriation, then EACC should proceed and liaise with the DPP for their prosecution. We cannot just say there are no records and we leave the matter at that,” he added.

In the financial year ended June 30, 2020, the county assembly received Sh1.03 billion but only accounted for Sh958.6 million. The assembly denied ever receiving the variance of Sh78.8 million.

“Where did this Sh78 million go? This is what sent the former majority and minority leaders and the chief finance officer to jail. Money left the Executive for the assembly but ended up in some people’s pockets. That money must be found,” said Mr Kajwang’.

Appearing before the committee, Speaker Owino Likowa admitted the county executive indicated that the money had been transferred.

“We could not trace the money and so we referred the matter to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI),” said Mr Graham Kagali, the assembly’s Public Accounts Committee chairperson.

The Senate committee directed Mr Likowa and acting clerk Vicensia Kionge to reconstruct the records to explain how the millions were spent.

“It is your painful duty as the Speaker to deal with cartels who have looted the assembly. If Sh987 million cannot be accounted for then it means there are people who are not supposed to ever hold a public office again,” said Mr Kajwang’.

There was also unsupported expenditure of Sh56 million on training, hospitality and foreign travel. Ms Kionge said they could not trace documents related to the expenditures following a break-in at the assembly’s finance office.

“This does not make sense because something like training or travel expenses should be easily retrievable unless the money was stolen,” said Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka. His Nairobi counterpart Edwin Sifuna added: “Travel agents must have the records and they can provide them so there is no way you are telling us you cannot trace the records.”

The committee said it will write to the DCI to shed more light on the status of the investigations in order to bring closure to the matter.

“The DCI cannot investigate forever. It has been three years now going to four. Their continued delay in concluding the probe is hindering the work of this committee,” Mr Kajwang’ said.