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February 21, 2019

Anti-graft cops probe ‘NYS-like’ scams and cartels in Bungoma

 e Bungoma county assembly / JOHN NALIANYA
 e Bungoma county assembly / JOHN NALIANYA

EACC officers are camping at the Bungoma county assembly and the government offices to investigate allegations of abuse of office and general corruption.

The officers have been at the offices since Thursday morning. The visit has caused panic among officers and staff.

One EACC officer, who is on the team but not authorised to speak to the press, said they were investigating the county assembly over fictitious payments.

“We have zeroed in on a cartel involving senior staff and some suppliers, who have been engaging in dubious payments similar to those in the NYS scandal. They sometimes pay, yet nothing has been supplied at the assembly,” the officer said.

The Bungoma assembly has recently been in the news for alleged fraud. Last week, Soysambu/Mitua MCA Stephen Wamalwa blew the whistle on what he called rampant fraud threatening to cripple 

the assembly.   

He cited the case of the payment of Sh510,000 to a Kisumu hotel for a seminar said to have taken place from December 7 to 12, 2017. He said MCAs found that no such seminar took place when they reviewed their diaries. “We have documents showing that 25 MCAs attended a workshop of the Agriculture committee, of which I am member. We didn’t, but the hotel was paid,” he said. 

The MCA claimed there were numerous similar cases and said county operations are hampered by lack of cash.

He said he would table a motion to discuss the conduct of workers. “This is a well-choreographed scheme to defraud the assembly. It [involves] particular contractors and suppliers who are paid for doing nothing and thereafter the money is shared.”

The MCA asked why the invoice from the hotel was dated December 17 yet the payment voucher was initiated two days earlier. “We can’t pretend to be oversighting others when the house is corrupt,” he said.

Wamalwa asked why the clerk did not send a memo to the Agriculture team on the retreat before payments were made, as is usually the case.

 In the probe at the county government, the County Public Service Board is being investigated over allegations that people connected to senior county officials were the only ones considered during hiring.

Also being probed are claims that some of those people who were employed through ‘godfathers’ were awarded salaries above the recommended rates.

“We are investigating abuse of office and general corruption, because we had so many petitions accompanied by documents by members of the public on irregular appointments. Once we are done, you can be sure some people will find themselves in court,” the officer said.

Activists Moses Lukoye of the Katiba Rights Watch group has already filed a petition at the High Court in Bungoma questioning employment practices at the county.

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