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January 20, 2019

Samburu MCAs vote to impeach county health minister over misappropriation

A file photo of Samburu County Referral Hospital. /COURTESY
A file photo of Samburu County Referral Hospital. /COURTESY

Samburu County Assembly has passed an impeachment report against County's Health and Sanitation Executive Mary Ekai.

The assembly adopted and passed the report made by Ad-hoc committee that has been investigating allegations levelled against the officer.

Twenty-five out of 26 members of the Assembly passed the report.

The report is to be fowarded to Governor Moses Lenolkulal who is to take the "next appropriate action".

If the governor signs the report, the CEC faces an impeachment.

Ekai had earlier admitted to allegations of misappropriation of public funds and flouting of procurement laws.

She was also facing allegations of spending Sh3.1 million on allowances in a three week foreign trip to Italy and Israel

The officer who appeared before the Assembly committee admitted extending her stay in Israel for two extra days that consumed taxpayers money.

The CEC promised to return the taxpayers money paid to her account before she went for an education trip to Israel two weeks ago.

The amount deposited into her account as per diem was Sh1.3 Million, 14 days allowance.

She is said to have also spent Sh1.2 Million as one week allowance in a trip to Italy where she was visiting various hospitals in the country for benchmarking purposes without company of any other technical officer.

The officer proceeded directly to Israel from Italy to pursue a course at Galilee International Management Institute to study Health Systems Management course for two weeks where she also spent Sh1.9 Million.

The same course is offered in Kenya by Amref health Africa at a total cost of Sh71,000.

The committee wanted to understand why per diem allowances were deposited into her account to a tune of Sh3.1 million yet her full board accomodation had been catered for.

Public Finance Act does not allow per diem allowances to be paid to a government official who is under full board accommodation.

Ekai visited Galilee Institute with an officer from her office, David Onchonga who was not cleared by the Samburu County government to go for the trip as the County Secretary Stephen Letinina cited lack of funds to support his travel.

In a suprising turn of events, the officer said that she did not know if the accountant from her department had deposited the money in her account.

She admitted before the committee that it was illegal and against the Laws of Kenya for a public officer to receive per diem allowances if his/her full accommodation had been paid for.

“If money meant for my allowances was deposited in my account I don’t know, because I have not checked my balance since I went to Israel until when I came back, if the said Sh1.3 Million is in my account then I’m more than willing to return it to Samburu County because its ‘mwananchi’s’ money.” She said.

When asked why she did not notice the amount in her account since she left for the trip the CEC said she had not been checking her bank account regularly.

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