What you need to know:
- When she appeared before the National Dialogue Committee, Dr Nyakang’o spoke of instances of budgeted corruption. She gave the example of her office, saying that her salary’s budget was three times more.
The National Assembly was on Wednesday December 6 sharply divided over the arrest and arraignment of Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o.
While Leader of Minority Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja MP) accused the State of targeting Dr Nyakang’o over her strong stance against misuse of public funds, his Majority counterpart Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu MP) said she is subject to the law like any other person.
Mr Wandayi said it was an attempt to have her removed from office. “This is the first time under the current constitution that a holder of an independent office has been charged in court. It raises serious issues,” said Mr Wandayi, adding that Dr Nyakang’o “is going nowhere”.
When she appeared before the National Dialogue Committee, Dr Nyakang’o spoke of instances of budgeted corruption. She gave the example of her office, saying that her salary’s budget was three times more.
The Kikuyu MP further said that the mere fact that Dr Nyakang’o holds an independent office does not elevate her above the law.
“Those defending her are prejudicing her case in court, it is safe to leave the matter to the courts. In any case there is nothing in the constitution that says that she is immune to prosecution,” said Mr Ichung’wah.
Dr Nyakang’o’s troubles can be traced to a civil dispute between Ms Claudia Mueni Mutungi and Fountain Enterprises Programme (FEP) Sacco Society Ltd. This dispute began in 2019 after Ms Mutungi allegedly transferred Sh29 million from her fixed deposit account at Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT) to the Sacco.
Ms Susan Kiambati—who is Dr Nyakang’o’s co-accused—was a customer care manager at the bank and she informed Ms Mutungi that FEP Sacco was offering a higher interest rate for fixed deposits. This persuaded Ms Mutungi to transfer her money. Documents filed at the High Court in Mombasa indicate that Ms Mutungi was then paid Sh1.1 million interest in advance.
After several months, she informed the FEP that she needed her money to be placed in a call account for one month after its maturity on March 3, 2020. In court papers, she says she was shocked when she received a reply indicating that she had been a member of FEP Sacco, yet she had not filed any document to become one. She then sued FEP claiming she had been made a member of the Sacco without her knowledge.
According to Ms Mutungi, she had all along believed that she had been dealing with a bank and not a Sacco. She was issued with forms that stated she was withdrawing from the Sacco and requested to withdraw Sh20 million, which she filled.
Ms Mutungi claimed that both the Sacco and Ms Kiambati had breached their agreement and asked the court to order a refund of the money and a declaration that she has never been a member of the Sacco.
Ms Kiambati and the Sacco, however, objected. The Sacco’s Chief Officer Dr Jackson Wanjau insisted the woman was their member. The Sacco produced a copy of a duly filled and executed application form to prove its case but the woman denied knowledge of the documents.
Justice Njoki Mwangi who handled the dispute found that Ms Mueni was a member of the Sacco and referred the matter to the Co-operatives Tribunal.
Ms Mutungi filed an appeal and has introduced new evidence—the forgery that made her a member of the Sacco. This appeal is pending judgment in April 2024.
Dr Nyakang’o is not mentioned in the civil suit.