What you need to know:
- The DCI launched investigations in August after outraged media managers appealed to Mr Haji over a debt of more than Sh2.5 billion, which GAA has failed to pay over years despite services being rendered.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has recommended the prosecution of 30 firms and individuals over the Sh2.5 billion scandal at the Government Advertising Agency (GAA).
The DPP released the names of the suspects Saturday morning who include former Broadcasting and Telecommunication Principal Secretary Sammy Itemere, Lugari MP Ayub Savula and his two wives Melody Gatwiri Ringera and Hellen Kemboi.
Mr Savula was arrested Friday evening and taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) headquarters for interrogation over the scandal.
DCI Director George Kinoti confirmed the legislator, who is serving his second term, was arrested by his officers for conspiring to steal Sh122,335,500 from the ministry of Information Communications and Technology.
Mr Savula was arrested at an entertainment spot in Nairobi and will be held at the Muthaiga Police Station over the weekend pending his arraignment in court on Monday.
The DCI launched investigations in August after outraged media managers appealed to Mr Haji over a debt of more than Sh2.5 billion, which GAA has failed to pay over years despite services being rendered.
GAA buys advertisements space on behalf of government departments and agencies, collects payments, and is supposed to pay media firms but has not been remitting the funds.
To make matters worse, media firms have been forced to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) for the outstanding amounts. When GAA was set-up in 2012, it was supposed to help the government cut down on advertising expenses.
However, big parastatals are privately complaining that their advertising costs have gone up tremendously and are not getting the kind of response they ordinarily do when they advertise directly.
This is because GAA advertisements are not targeted: All are lumped together in MyGov and inserted into newspapers, irrespective of reach and audience composition.
On MyGov, GAA is incurring debt of Sh40 million a week (Sh2.08 billion a year).
In the current budget, the ministry only has access to Sh390 million for paying media houses.
Mr Haji gave the directive to investigate GAA following an August 7, 2018 editorial in the Daily Nation criticising the institutions for obtaining resources and not paying for them.
The editorial slammed the government for crippling local businesses by not honouring contracts.
“The act of government departments obtaining goods or services from Kenyans … and wilfully failing to pay for them, criminally falls short of the expectations of those legal provisions” the editorial read.
The arrest of the MP is the latest crackdown by the government on the war against corruption especially in the public service.