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January 21, 2019

Homa Bay staff latest casualties in graft war

Former majority leader Owino Ooro.Pix Habil Onyango
Former majority leader Owino Ooro.Pix Habil Onyango

The EACC yesterday arrested two current and three former Homa Bay assembly officials for alleged misuse of Sh26 million.

They were among the seven that DPP Noordin Haji directed the anti-graft agency to arrest.

Detained at the Homa Bay police station awaiting arraignment were Caroline Sang’ (chief finance officer), Edwin Okello (cashier), Michael Ooro (former Majority leader), Isaac Nyandege (former Minority leader) and Judith Omogi (former member of the County Assembly Service Board, now a nominated MCA).

The detectives were seeking Bob Kephas (clerk) and Maurice Amek (principal accountant).

“The two disappeared, but we’re looking for them. We’ll ensure they are arrested and charged in court,” EACC deputy CEO Michael Mubea said. He said no suspect will escape.

“Running away can’t save them,” he said. “They’ll have to be arrested and charged.”

Haji said the county officers will be charged with embezzlement, which occurred in the 2014-15 and 2016-17 financial years.

He said the EACC had investigated and established that the assembly clerk, the MCAs and the finance and procurement officers misappropriated Sh26,872,278 through fictitious and irregular payments of allowances and purchase of hotel services.

On June 12, the EACC presented a file to the DPP recommending prosecution of the seven suspects for economic crimes.

“I’ve reviewed and I’m satisfied the persons named actively participated in the perpetration of the alleged criminal activities and should be charged and prosecuted,” the DPP’s reply letter said.

On March 1 last year, the EACC raided the assembly to search for financial files after it got wind of cash misuse.

According to Auditor General Edward Ouko’s report, there were double claims for travelling and accommodation amounting to Sh1,389,000. It says this did not reflect the correct position. The claimants indicated they were in Mombasa from March 18-24, 2014, while at the same time they were attending a county assembly forum for staff interviews at the ACK Guesthouse in Homa Bay.

Ouko said the MCAs could not be in different places at the same time.

The report revealed that the county legislators were issued with a Sh12,168,800 temporary imprest.

This was to cater for accommodation and transport during budget discussions and liaison meetings. Another Sh2,784,000 advanced for transport was not supported by receipts for accountability purposes, the report said.

“The MCAs were granted advances of Sh20,000 each. No attendance register for all the activities was made available for audit,” it said.

The assembly paid Sh5,540,800 to MCAs attending committee meetings outside the assembly offices. But the minutes for the selection committee, bonding session and attendance register were not produced for verification, Ouko said.

“The transport cost was paid upfront rather than issuing impress to be accounted for later,” the auditor’s report said.

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