Board meets as Epra boss Pavel Oimeke cools heels in police cells

Director General of EPRA, Pavel Oimeke arrested over bribery allegations

What you need to know:

  • Mr Oimeke made a comeback at Epra in October after close to two months in the cold and in court corridors battling a petition that had been filed to oppose his reappointment after his first term ended in July.
  • His short suspension almost split the Epra board, which had made the decision to push him out pending the conclusion of the court case.

Barely two months after he was reinstated into office by the courts for lack of evidence in a corruption, nepotism and abuse of office case, Mr Pavel Oimeke is in trouble with the law.

Mr Oimeke, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) director-general, was arrested on Thursday by EACC detectives for allegedly receiving a Sh200,000 bribe to approve the reopening of a fuel station in Oyugis, Homa Bay County,  which the authority had closed.

Yesterday, the board held an emergency meeting after it emerged that Mr Oimeke may be required to stay longer at the basement cells of the EACC in Nairobi, where he was detained on Thursday.

The renewable energy expert made a comeback at Epra in October after close to two months in the cold and in court corridors battling a petition that had been filed to oppose his reappointment after his first term ended in July.

The petition was a second one, the first having collapsed after the petitioner withdrew it.

The second petitioner, Mr Emmanuel Wanjala, alleged in the petition that Epra had witnessed massive losses due to spillages, installation of faulty meters, increased court cases against the authority by former employees who were dismissed for pointing out wrongdoings or mismanagement of resources and abuse of office.

Tribalism

Through his lawyer Henry Kurauka, he accused Mr Oimeke of abuse of office, mismanagement of a public institution and public resources, corruption, tribalism and favouritism.

He wanted his reappointment blocked for not being a member of a relevant professional body as clearly stipulated under section 13(3)(e) of the Energy Act.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) had been enjoined in the case with a view of compelling the agency to investigate the claims.

A court order issued by Justice Hellen Wasilwa stopped the regulator’s board chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Jackton Ojwang’ from renewing Mr Oimeke’s term, leading to his suspension in mid-August.

It didn’t last long. On October 9, Justice Wasilwa dismissed the case that had also sought to enjoin the EACC, for lack of evidence on the allegations, leading to Mr Oimeke’s return to Epra, where the corporation secretary/director of legal affairs Mueni Mutung’a had been appointed in acting capacity.

His short suspension almost split the Epra board, which had made the decision to push him out pending the conclusion of the court case.

In fact, a board member swore an affidavit to support his defence in court.

Director General of EPRA, Pavel Oimeke arrested over bribery allegations

Mr Samuel Maugo told the judge that Oimeke had been rightfully appointed and confirmed by the Energy CS Charles Keter in May, long before the petition came up.

EACC, which was enjoined in the case to investigate him, also denied having received any complaints to warrant his probe, leaving Justice Wasilwa with no option but to dismiss the petition and order for Mr Oimeke’s reinstatement into office.

Confiscated gas cylinders

Several allegations have emerged before during his tenure but there has not been any prove. The petitioner had alleged in court that Mr Oimeke had opened an illegal holding yard for confiscated cooking gas cylinders and trucks to extort suspects into bribing before their assets were released.

Just before his first term ended in July, the regulator was on the spot after it emerged that there had been an error in the fuel pump price calculation leading to a huge jump in prices in August.

The energy regulator had failed to correctly compute the prices in the June/July pricing, an error whose correction in the July/August fuel price caused a massive hike in pump prices.

Mr Oimeke, who at first admitted to some adjustments in the prices after oil marketing companies had “misunderstood’ the taxation law, an error that was passed through to the pump pricing, later denied the report.

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