ON THE RADAR

EACC probes five counties over Covid-19 funds misuse

Commission trains eyes on counties that ignored procurement laws.

In Summary

•The EACC is investigating five county governments for alleged misappropriation of millions of shillings meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

•The anti-graft body is also probing at least 12 devolved units that  created room for tenderpreneurs to thrive.

EACC boss Twalib Mbarak
PROBE: EACC boss Twalib Mbarak
Image: FILE

The EACC is investigating five county governments for alleged misappropriation of millions of shillings meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The anti-graft body is also probing at least 12 devolved units that breached procurement laws and legal provisions that created room for tenderpreneurs to thrive.

The probe comes barely two weeks after Auditor General Nancy Gathungu released a report indicting several counties for ignoring procedures and laws in procurement for Covid-19 items.

Akin to the procurement mess at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority that birthed ‘Covid billionaires’, Gathungu revealed the counties mutilated procurement laws and regulations, dished out tenders and engaged in "acts of criminality" leading to possible loss of public funds.

EACC believes millions of shillings were stolen, misappropriated or used to issue out unwarranted tenders to proxies of powerful individuals at the county level.

The revelations are contained in a confidential internal memo on Sunday sent to all 11 EACC regional offices in situated in Malindi, Mombasa, Isiolo, Garissa, Nyeri and Kisii.

Others are Nakuru, Machakos, Eldoret and Kisumu.

In the memo, CEO Twalib Mbarak notes that public officials used the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the country in March to award supply tenders to relatives and cronies who overpriced their goods and in some instances supplied substandard products.

To add insult to injury, Mbarak says in the letter, some counties mutilated procurement laws and regulations, dished out tenders like “confectionaries” in their overdrive procurement for Covid-19 items.

“We ask you to investigate these illegalities and illegal dealings at your areas of jurisdiction with a view of bringing to book all any officer who have may use their privileged position to carry out an illegality,” the EACC letter reads in part.

In April last year, the CEO raised a red flag warning that money allocated to fight the coronavirus pandemic was misused for selfish gain.

“This is a message to the county governors and others involved that we are monitoring how the fund is going to be spent,” Mbarak told journalists at the Covid-19 emergency response fund board at the KICC when he donated Sh1.2 million from the EACC commissioners and staff.

“As a commission, we are alive to the emergencies posed by this pandemic but I want to be categorical that procurement rules must be followed, to the later.” he added.

Asked to reveal the identity of the counties under investigations, Mbarak said disclosing their identities would scare suspects into trying to cover up their dirt.

“We won’t reveal their names but you find that many people who give services to counties, their bank accounts, mode of payments and how the withdraws are done” Mbarak said after a consultative meeting in Naivasha.

"For instance, when you see a businessman who has been given a contract of about Sh100 million, you to go his account you find almost Sh90 million has been withdrawn in cash, it gives you a red flag of what kind of business that person has been doing with that particular county,” the CEO said on Saturday.