IMPEACHMENT HEARING

Governor's wife, children linked to Wajir graft web — MCAs

In day-long Senate session, MCAs detail reasons they impeached Abdi, say his wife was 'supremo'

In Summary

• In an affidavit, an MCA claimed that on October 9, 2017, Sh6 million was deposited in the bank account of the governor’s wife, the account number ending in 7550.

• Two days later on October 11, 2017, Sh2.6 million was wired to the same account, the affidavit read, adding that on October 27, Sh4.6 million was deposited in the account.

Wajir Governor Abdi Mohamud before Snate special committee to hear his impeachment case on May.11.
IMPEACHMENT; Wajir Governor Abdi Mohamud before Snate special committee to hear his impeachment case on May.11.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Wajir MCAs on Wednesday sought to place the wife and children of embattled Governor Mohammed Abdi at the centre of what they called a "tender graft web" that threatens to ensnare him.

It was the first day of the Senate hearing to uphold or dismiss the county assembly's impeachment.

In a blow-by-blow account, the MCAs detailed how Kheira Omar Maalim the governor’s wife whom they described as the ultimate leader and de facto authority allegedly has been influencing tenders and receiving kickbacks. They said she has been running the show in the county executive.

“It is open secret in Wajir county and far beyond that Mrs Kheira Omar is the supreme leader and it's always her way or the highway," Elnur-Tulatula MCA Abdullahi Issack said.

He sponsored the impeachment motion against the governor. 

The case is being heard by a Senate committee, not the full Senate.

MCAs submitted that Abdi presides over an opaque administration riddled with corruption and has overseen a ballooning county debt of about Sh2 billion. But he refused to release Sh70 million due to the assembly, they said.

The governor trashed the removal effort as politically instigated to tarnish his name.

“I will fully cooperate with the committee and assist it in establishing the truth that the charges levelled against me as governor of Wajir county are unsubstantiated and cannot stand the scrutiny and threshold required for impeachment of a governor,” Abdi said. He denied all wrongdoing.

His lawyers Paul Nyamodi and Njeru Ndwiga sought to discredit the assembly's evidence but they will have their own time.

The MCAs, represented by lead counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi, detailed their case at the beginning of the impeachment hearing.

Abdi was impeached by 37 out of 47 MCAs on April 27.

He is accused of gross violation of the Constitution, the County Government Act, Public Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act 2015. He is accused of abuse of office and gross misconduct.

MCAs claimed several companies associated with the governor’s family, including his son Yussuf Mohamed Abdi and daughter Farhiya Mohamed Abdi, and businessman Osman Abdi Jimale have been improperly awarded county tenders and paid millions of shillings.

On Wednesday, the committee chaired by Nyamira Senator Okongo Omogeni declined a request by the county assembly to summon the governor’s family members.

“The county assembly’s case revolves around the governor’s family. The governor and his wife and children have played a critical role in the degradation of governance in Wajir county,” Abdullahi said.

The committee ruled that there were no compelling reasons to require the family members to testify but said the county was at liberty to provide any evidence linking the family to the financial issues.

The committee, however, summoned Jimale whom Abdullahi claimed owns many companies awarded tenders by the county government.

In some instances, the companies walked away with millions of shillings for 'supply of air' while in other cases the cost of items were inflated, the county legal team said.

“It is well known that contracts from the Wajir county government are awarded to companies belonging to persons associated with the governor and his family,” Issack said.

He cited Leyli General Contractors, which was awarded a Sh149.99 million tender to supply relief food and assorted items for humanitarian relief.

The MCA claimed the directors of the company are related to the governor but he did not identify them.

“Contrary to the law, the company was allowed to supply items at an inflated rate. For instance, the company supplied 42,857 bales of maize meal (ugali) flour at a cost of 3,500 per bale, totalling Sh149,999,500 — contrary to the local market price of Sh1,600 per bale," Isaak said.

Further, some items have not been 100 per cent delivered, for instance, sleeping mats and tarpaulins.

“Sometime in mid-October 2017, the governor instructed contractors engaged by the county for various works to get in touch with his wife, Mrs Kheira Omar, for purposes of making cash payments to her,” Diff MCA Shueb Bare Ahmed said in an affidavit.

Ahmed had seconded the impeachment motion against the governor.

“The operations were that these contractors would be paid money by the county government of Wajir;  once they received the funds, a portion of the said funds would be required to be paid to Mrs Kheira,” Ahmed added in the affidavit.

He submitted that on October 9, 2017, Sh6 million was deposited in the bank account of the governor’s wife, the account number ending with 7550.

Two days later on October 11, 2017, Sh2.6 million was wired to the same account, he said, adding that on  October 27, some Sh4.6 million was deposited in the account.

“I verily believe that these were monies paid in hard cash to Mrs. Kheira as a kick-back for securing tenders,” Ahmed's affidavit said.

The MCA narrated a case where the county awarded a tender for supply of a governor’s car to Dayoo Construction and General Supplies Limited, which he said was owned by Jimale.

Dayoo subcontracted a company known as Cosmos. The contract between the two companies was signed by Yusuf Mohamed Abdi, the governor’s son, the MCA said.

Later, Dayoo was paid Sh26 million, of which Sh2.22 million was transferred to the governor’s son and Cosmos paid Sh14 million, he said in the document. 

On July 3, 2018, Dayoo sent Sh4 million to Townsville Holdings Limited, thereafter Farhiya, the governor’s daughter, received the same amount from the company on September 10, 2018.

The MCA alleged that the county government paid Sh3.37 million to Arag Construction Limited on December 16, 2018, for a ‘ghost project’ – Reticulation and other water works at Fadiweyn.

“The project did not exist and was never implemented. This is a company associated with Abdinasir Bishar Ali and Mohamed Bishar Ali who are both associated with the governor. These are part of the companies used to syphon county funds,” the affidavit reads.

The MCA added various companies were seeking to be awarded tenders from the county government of Wajir but they would first make cash deposits into the governor’s wife’s account to secure the tenders.

“These companies are also associated to her and the governor through family relations and close business associates,” the document reads.

Ahmed listed nine companies owed by Osman Abdi Jimale that have been awarded several tenders by the county government.

They are Zulma Construction and General Supplies Limited, R8 Enterprises Limited, Leisland General Merchants Limited, Daayo Construction and General Supplies Limited.

Others are Y-Tree, Leisland General Merchants Limited, Leyli General Supplies Limited and Buildlink Investments Limited.

“On November 11, 2017, Mr Osman Abdi Jimale deposited Sh1,000,000 into Mrs Kheira’s bank account ending with 7550,” the affidavit reads.

On December 18, 2017, Omar deposited Sh9 million into Kheira’s bank account whose number ends with 7550.

“MrOsman Abdi Jimale has been paid the sum of Sh305.44 million by the county executive when there are unpaid pending bills from 2017 under this current administration,” he said.

In some cases, the MCA said, Kheira used Abdirazak Issa to allegedly collect 10 per cent payments from suppliers.

Issa owns Ajwa Constructions Limited, Blue Valley Investments Limited; Triple Issa Investments Limited and Sabahu Construction Limited.

He said the man wired a total of Sh4.92 million to the bank account of the governor’s wife on dates between 2018 and 2019.

The MCAs attached bank statements to substantiate his case.

“I am also aware that these above-named companies associated with Abdirazak Issa have been paid a number of times. The total paid to his companies amount to Sh110.07 million,” he said.

The governor’s lawyers Njiru and Nyamodi questioned the authenticity of the documents, including the bank statements.

Omogeni ruled that the committee will "look at the veracity and authenticity of the documents" and make a pronouncement.

(Edited by V. Graham)