Anti-graft agency arrests former Tourism CS Najib Balala

 Najib Balala

Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a past event.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and former Principal Secretary Leah Adda Gwiyo will be arraigned in Mombasa today (Friday) over procurement irregularities in the construction of a college in Kilifi.

Balala and Adda were arrested on Thursday by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Joseph Odero, a consultant with an engineering firm, was also arrested. They were all held overnight before being flown to Kilifi on Friday morning. 

Balala is facing 10 charges over allegations that the Tourism Fund fraudulently paid Sh8.5 billion to set up the Coast branch of Kenya Utalii College (later renamed Ronald Ngala Utalii College).

"The arrest follows investigations by the commission into the irregular payment of Sh8.5 billion from the Tourism Fund, of which Sh4 billion was paid to Baseline Architects Limited for consultancy services for the proposed Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Vipingo, Kilifi County," EACC said in a statement.

The Nation understands that two weeks ago, EACC submitted a report on its investigations to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and a total of 16 people will be charged over the matter.

EACC said it is yet to nab 13 others who include; Allan Wafula (former chief executive officer, Tourism Fund), Joseph Rotich (former chief executive officer, Tourism Fund), Morris Njue (director, Baseline Architects Limited), Dominic Motanya (managing director, Baseline Architects) and Rebman Malala (director, Ujenzi Consultant).

Others are James Mwangi (director, Amitech Consulting Engineers), Joseph Odero (managing partner, West Consult Engineers), Eden Odhiambo (former director, Strategy and Resources, Tourism Fund), Ruth Sande, Flora Ngina, Joseph Karanja, George Muya, Norah Mukuna and Nancy Siboe.

The EACC said the trio, who were nabbed and processed at the Integrity Centre Police Station, will be charged with three offences which are; wilful failure to comply with procurement laws, unlawful acquisition of public property and abuse of office.

The Nation has established that the contractor for the project during Mr Balala's tenure was Mulji Devral and Brothers Company.

The project was initially handled by Kenya Utalii College before being handed over to the Ministry of Tourism.

According to the government, the main aim of building the state-of-the-art complex was to have additional facilities to relieve pressure on the Nairobi-based Utalii College.

It includes modern kitchens, sports facilities and conference rooms.

Additional reporting by Valentine Obara