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September 24, 2018

Former Nyeri county officials jailed three years over corruption

John Maina (Executive Secretary for Lands and Infrastructure) and Martin Wamwea (Executive Secretary for Finance) during a past appearance before the Anti-corruption court in Nyeri /FILE
John Maina (Executive Secretary for Lands and Infrastructure) and Martin Wamwea (Executive Secretary for Finance) during a past appearance before the Anti-corruption court in Nyeri /FILE

Three former Nyeri county government officials have been sentenced to three years in jail and fined Sh7.9 million each for flouting procurement laws.

They were accused of irregularly awarding of tenders and abuse of office.

John Maina (Lands and Infrastructure), Martin Wamwea (Finance), and Chief of Staff Simon Wachira were handed the sentence on Monday by Chief Magistrate John Oyiengo of Anti-Corruption court.

Through their lawyer Edward Oonge, the accused unsuccessfully requested for non-custodial sentences.

Read: Three top Nyeri officials deny Sh3.7m graft

Maina is accused of irregularly awarding a contract for consultancy of audit services to Pleng Kenya directly, without the approval of the County Tender Committee.

His counterpart, Wamwea, was charged with abuse of office allegedly authorising processing of Sh3,756,962.37 as payment to Pleng Kenya Ltd without the necessary supporting documents.

Wachira was charged with two counts of failing to comply with procurement laws and improper use of public office.

The prosecution provided eight witnesses in the case.

The magistrate ruled that each of the accused persons pay twice the amount of money that was lost in the offence or serve two years in prison.

In addition, they are each required to pay a fine of Sh400,000 or one year in prison. The court said the sentences would run concurrently.

Oyiengo observed that the process of awarding the tender was unprocedural and illegal since the Tender Secretariat was skipped. He also noted that the reasons as to how the amount was arrived were not offered.

In his defence, Maina admitted that there was no competitive bidding. He said he was following orders from the Governor (Nderitu Gachagua).

The court noted that: "The Procurement Act was flawed by single sourcing. Despite getting orders from the governor law must have been followed. There was nothing urgent with getting audit services which are done annually. The CEC should have known the directives were illegal."

On his part, Wamwea argued that he was not concerned with procurement processes. But the magistrate noted that Wamwea, being the overall accounting officer in the County, should have asked for supporting documents of awarding the contract.

“His explanation that he was not concerned with procurement is untenable. He willfully failed to comply with the law. He should have known he was endorsing illegal payments,” the court said.

The magistrate, however, acquitted all the accused persons the second count of abuse of office, saying the prosecution could have listed it as an alternative count.

He noted that though the accused persons were remorseful, the country is losing a lot of funds through illegal activities, thus the sentence.

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