The puzzle of 33 police officers who guarded Sonko

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko with his fans and bodyguards are seen at Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi on January 6, 2015 where the post mortem on the body of Fidel Odinga was being conducted. He had gone at the the funeral home where the mother of former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua was being transported from the Mortuary for burial. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL (NAIROBI)

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko would use as many as 33 police officers to guard him while traveling locally, a report by the auditor-general has revealed.

This as Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu fingered the county government for irregular payment of allowances to the security officers.

According to the auditor-general, the ex-City Hall chief was at one time, during a trip to Mombasa between July 22 and August 12, 2018, accompanied by 33 police officers.

The police officers, according to the report for the financial year ended June 30, 2019, were paid more than Sh4 million as allowances for guarding the ex-governor while at the Coastal city.

This was part of a staggering Sh337 million the city county government spent on domestic travel and subsistence during the period under review.

However, the county government failed to explain the purpose of the journey and authorisation for use of 33 police officers.

Interestingly, two months before the July trip, the former governor was in the news saying his life was in danger following the withdrawal of his security detail.

Mr Sonko cried foul saying 13 police officers were withdrawn from his security detail leaving him with only two. This then begs the question how he had 33 police officers accompanying him.

“Examination of payment documents revealed that the balance includes an amount of Sh4.09 million paid to 33 officers who were guarding the Governor while in Mombasa for 22 days between July 22 and August 12, 2018,” said Ms Gathungu.

“However, no documents were made available in support of the payment except an unsigned schedule. In addition, the purpose of the journey and authorisation for use of 33 officers was not explained,” she added.

Consequently, said Ms Gathungu, validity of the propriety as well as that of the Sh4 million expenditure could not be confirmed.

But in their defense, City Hall said there were only 12 police officers who accompanied Mr Sonko during the domestic trip.

Further, the county executive said the team accompanied the former Nairobi senator and were deemed to be on duty out of their work station, they were hence entitled to allowances in accordance with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission circular of 2017.

“We provided for audit review, authority letter to pay allowances to the officers accompanying the governor,” read City Hall’s response.

The size of security detail very important persons (VIPs) varies according to the duty by an official and the level of risk.

But according to a 2013 structure that guides allocation of security detail to VIPs, governors were to have one armed police officer attached to them while four others stationed at their homes.

Nonetheless, the structure was not strictly followed with some of the VIPs having as many as 15 police officers as part of their security detail.

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