The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has begun investigating Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and the county assembly following reports of their involvement in irregular payments of allowances and awarding of tenders.
EACC Central region manager Charles Rasugu said complains against the county boss relate to a conflict of interest in awarding a Sh50 million tender and signing allowances for fictitious foreign trips.
Mr Rasugu said detectives will be sent to Kirinyaga to start investigations and scrutinising the necessary documents as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is contained.
On the county assembly, the complaint involves payment of irregular allowances by a former acting speaker.
“It is said the acting speaker was involved in transactions he had no powers to conduct. We will read the laws on powers of an acting speaker,” Mr Rasugu said.
The commission received the reports from an anonymous source last week, he added.
“The reports came when we had scaled down our operations due to coronavirus. We cannot go to Kirinyaga to get the files. We are reviewing the reports and will act accordingly,” he said.
Though ward representatives want to impeach Ms Waiguru, the EACC said they have never written to the commission or visited its offices to make a report. That means the reports may not have come from them.
In the impeachment motion tabled at the assembly by Mutira Ward Representative David Kinyua Wangui, the governor is accused of abusing her office and violating the Constitution.
Mr Wangui says Ms Waiguru was irregularly paid travel allowances amounting to Sh10.6 million “yet she did not make the trips”.
The amounts were paid the same days the invoices were issued, with Mr Wangui adding that the money was deposited in the governor’s Equity Bank accounts.
The ward representative says the governor invoiced the devolved government the amounts between June 2018 and February 2020.
On June 18, 2018, according to the impeachment document, Governor Waiguru invoiced the county government Sh165,375.
On September 6, 2019, she invoiced the devolved unit Sh300,000.
On October 29, 2019 according to Mr Wangui, the county boss invoiced the county Sh43,800, January 8, 2020 (Sh943,700), October 23, 2018 (Sh1,107,364), January 15, 2020 (Sh300,000) and February 25, 2020 (Sh1,125,440).
The Mutira Ward rep says on August 23, 2019 the governor invoiced the county Sh1,001,910, on June 30, 2019 (Sh2,600,297), June 14, 2019 (Sh455,000), February 18, 2019 (Sh989, 961) and on June 18, 2018 (Sh1,601,767).
The governor is also being accused of violating the 2015 Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.
According to Mr Wangui, the governor usurped powers of the accounting officer when she formed a tender evaluation committee made up of her employees – Ms Pauline Kamau and Mr Gichira Wayne.
The contracts that Mr Wangui says were irregularly awarded include the proposed indefinite framework agreement for the supply of non-pharmaceuticals.
Two Rays General Supplies Ltd was paid Sh8 million but did not offer services to the county, the ward representative says.
He adds that a tender for the design, development, installation and commissioning of an integrated hospital management information system was awarded to Velocity Partners Ltd – a phantom company.
“It is important to note that the tender had been completed by the previous county government. Nevertheless, Velocity Partners Ltd was paid Sh50.6 million despite not doing any work,” Mr Wangui goes on.
He says the county government and the firm signed a Sh27.2 million contract in May 2018 and not what was finally paid.
The impeachment motion document says the tender to procure the governor’s vehicle at Sh15 million was awarded despite the same having been procured during the time of Governor Joseph Ndathi.
“The purchase was made using funds meant for the Contractors Retention Account. It amounts to corruption and misappropriation of public funds,” Mr Wangui goes on.
The ward representative wants the assembly to scrutinise the Sh19 million tender evaluation report for upgrading Kagumo market, prepared on December 20, 2018.
The tender, the motion says, was irregularly awarded to Joames Investment Ltd.
Governor Waiguru is accused of allowing payment to Kirinyaga Investment Development Authority board members.
The County Public Service Board had directed that their payment be approved by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
She is also accused of undermining the power and authority of the county assembly to oversee and approve Kirinyaga developmental plans.
The governor denies the claims, accusing ward representatives of sideshows in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
The High Court ordered the assembly and its Speaker to halt the motion, pending the hearing and determination of a petition filed by Ms Waiguru or the containment of Covid-19, whichever event comes first.
“I appreciate the fact that the respondents are executing their constitutional mandates. However, by failing to take into account the effects of Covid-19 on operations, the respondents have chosen a path that will result in the violation of constitutional rights and principles. The High Court has a duty of ensuring that any power granted to a constitutional organ is exercised in compliance with the law,” Justice Weldon Korir said.
He said the governor established that if the impeachment motion is allowed to proceed, the doctrine of public participation would be violated.