The Kenya Pipeline Company board hired a man without proper papers to manage a Sh10 billion portfolio with more than 600 engineers.
Peter Jabone Mbugua Njenga was hired as General Manager of Operations and Maintenance — one of KPC's most sensitive departments — where he worked for about 18 months earning a gross monthly salary of about Sh1 million.
Njenga who claimed to have worked in top US engineering firms, which were nonexistent, was quietly asked to resign in February this year and was paid for pending leave days and three months' salary.
KPC, a state corporation, is under investigation for allegedly awarding a number of tenders amounting to more than Sh70 billion.
During his hiring, he did not submit required clearance certificates from the Kenya Revenue Authority, National Police Service and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
His key responsibilities included “ensuring petroleum products are transported through the pipeline in the most efficient, safe and economical manner”.
On August 12, 2011, more than 100 people were killed in Nairobi's Sinai slums in the explosion of what is believed to have been a leaking KPC gasket.
In his job application, Njenga claimed he had a master's degree in Science and Engineering Management from the University of Houston in Texas. He surpassed all 25 other applicants.
He also said he had a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Prairie View A & M University of Texas and a certificate from the Texas Society of Professional Engineers.
To cap it all, the man named Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau as among his referees.
But in a letter to KPC Managing Director Joe Sang dated October 16 last year, the Commission for University Education said it did not recognise Prairie View A & M University.
“The institution is also not recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the Distance Education and Training Council of the USA,” the CUA wrote.
The Engineers Board of Kenya also confirmed that Njenga was not a registered engineer, a requirement for the position.
“We have checked through our records and wish to inform you that Mr Njega is not registered with the Board under any category,” EBK Registrar Nicholas Musuni said.
Further, a probe by a private firm hired by KPC to investigate the matter concluded that the documents used by Njenga were fake.
“It's clear the certificates and documents used by Peter (Jabone) Mbugua Njenga alias James Mbugua Njenga to secure employment at KPC Ltd are not genuine. Further, the act of him using different names in his National ID and passport are additional information to worry about,” the internal report obtained by the Star states.
Apart from Exxon Mobil Ltd listed in his CV, all other firms Njenga claimed to have worked for in the US are non-existent, the KPC probe concluded.
Documents in the Star's possession indicate that KPC Managing Director Joe Sang suspended Njenga on October 9 last year.
“It has been decided that you be suspended from duty with immediate effect so that the allegations are investigated. You shall be informed of the specific time and date to respond to the allegations,” Sang wrote.
Investigations into Njenga's credibility began after Dennis Kiragu, a Kenyan citizen who cited public interest, wrote a protest letter to KPC and the EACC, among other institutions, accusing the state agency of irregularly employing the senior manager.
A second complaint was made to the Director of Criminal Investigations by Mombasa-based NGO Haki Africa. But KPC chairman John Ngumi said it was an unsupported allegation that risked tainting the reputation of his board.
“As matters now stand, Haki Africa's allegations impugn the reputation of all involved in the recruitment process at KPC, from the Board of Directors onwards,” Ngumi wrote to then DCI boss Ndegwa Muhoro.
“I also find it curious that an organisation whose stated objectives include...respect for human rights and rule of law by all would so casually treat the human rights of all those affected adversely by those so far unsupported allegations, and who now risk damaged reputation without opportunity of knowing precisely what it is they are accused of doing,” he wrote.
In September last year, both the EACC and the DCI kicked off parallel probes into Njenga's employment.
The scope of that probe is unclear.
“To facilitate our investigations, we request that you kindly but urgently provide this Commission with certified copies of both the open and confidential personal files of all the eight general managers,” EACC Deputy CEO asked KPC on September 29, 2017.