Raila targets Chirchir, Ndung'u as oil deal gets murkier

Petroleum saga balloons as Opposition demands probe and prosecution

In Summary
  • Raila demands resignation of Treasury CS Ngujuna Ndung'u and his Energy counterpart Davis Chirchir.

  • He also demands details of deals be made public and the EACC and Auditor General investigate “scam.”

Nyando MP Jared Okello, ODM leader Raila Odinga and his DAP-K counterpart Eugene Wamalwa during a press Conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation on November 16, 2023
Nyando MP Jared Okello, ODM leader Raila Odinga and his DAP-K counterpart Eugene Wamalwa during a press Conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation on November 16, 2023

Opposition chief Raila Odinga is demanding the resignation of President William Ruto’s two Cabinet Secretaries whom he claims are criminally culpable in what he calls a multibillion-shilling oil "scam".

On Sunday, President Ruto said the agreement signed between Kenya and Middle East countries is an above-board public document with copies submitted in Parliament.

Raila said on Monday he wants Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ngujuna Ndung'u and his Energy counterpart Davis Chirchir to quit over what he says is a monumental scandal that has caused fuel prices to surge sharply in Kenya. 

Raila said Ndung'u authorised the withdrawal Sh42.9 billion from government coffers to pay for “subsidies to private financial enterprises”. He spoke at his Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation offices in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area.

The funds, which Raila said were withdrawn illegally without the approval of Parliament, included Sh17 billion allegedly paid to Anne Njeri for importation of the contested oil. 

“The CS for Energy and Petroleum Chirchir and National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u have certainly committed criminal offences, abused office and gone against the Constitution,” Raila said. He concurred with Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah, an activist who, who first uncovered the issue. 

“They stole money from the Consolidated Fund, in addition to spend monies way above what Parliament approved. They must not only resign, they must also be prosecuted,” Raila said. 

The Azimio and ODM chief said Njeri was only a front for some big boys in the importation saga.

"I concur with the senator’s suspicion that Njeri is the ‘private financial enterprises’ funded by the Sh17,224,718,632 illegally withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund and received by the Ministry of Petroleum,” he stated.

"We also know that for a ship to leave one port for another, loaded with goods, it has to get a letter from the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum indicating the ship is authorised to carry and offload the cargo in Kenya. Who cleared the Njeri ship to travel to Kenya? How did it offload?" he asked.

Raila also put Energy CS Chirchir at the centre of the multibillion 'scam', accusing him of conflict of interest in identifying the dealers.

The Azimio leader also lashed out at the oil companies that over the weekend dismissed his ‘dossier', terming them part of the oil cartel behind the expensive fuel.

Once again, Raila said there was never a government-to-government deal signed by the William Ruto administration.

To justify his position, he said, the National Oil Company was bypassed by government and private players were handpicked for the deal.

“Kenyans will have noticed that even as our Ministry of Energy and Petroleum was signing deals with state-owned corporations in the Middle East, our own National Oil Corporation is completely left out,” Raila said.

“NOC has a legal mandate to participate in all aspects of the petroleum industry and is wholly owned by the Government of Kenya through a joint ownership by the ministry responsible for the petroleum function. How does Chirchir explain the exclusion of this corporation in favour of private firms?"

The ODM boss said the so-called government-to-government deal was a corruption scandal hatched to illegally withdraw money from the exchequer.

He further urged the oil marketers to show evidence of paying the requisite corporate taxes.

Oil marketing companies on Saturday defended the framework for the importation of fuel into the country, saying the current arrangement serves Kenyans well.

The firms came out strongly to defend the G-to-G arrangement, saying it was helping to stabilise the shilling against the US dollar.

"The local cost of fuel is determined by international oil prices, the prevailing forex rate and applicable taxes. Data shows global oil prices have been steadily rising due to the global post-Covid recovery in demand and certainly rising more with the geopolitical challenges over the last 18 months," the marketers said in a statement.

"It is noteworthy that world prices have been rising since Quarter 2 of 2023, which coincided with the start of the G-to-G supply,'' they said.

But the former Prime Minister yesterday urged the firms to show evidence that any of the oil companies are transacting in local currency.

“We are challenging the government to share with Kenyans evidence of payment of oil in Kenya shillings,” Raila said.

“Show us documents indicating when the payment was made in Kenya shillings, the bank accounts and the recipients of the payment. This regime has told Kenyans so many fictitious stories that only documentary evidence will help the country separate fact from fiction.”

Raila also demanded a thorough investigation of the deal by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. He wants the anti-graft body to probe possible corruption, collusion and conflicts of interest in the deal.

The former PM also wants the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Auditor General to take over the matter and tell Kenyans the truth about the deal.

“The Auditor General CPA Nancy Gathungu has displayed courage in her approach to duty. We are calling upon her to execute her mandate in this matter and investigate the procurement processes engaged in by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in the recruitment of suppliers and their local agencies,” Raila said.

He also said the deal was never a government-to-government arrangement, saying the state must make the details of the agreement public.

Raila said, however, that what is in Parliament is an agreement signed between Energy CS Chirchir and oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arabs Emirates.

“These must be documents signed by a representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Kenya, not that of the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Emirates-based ADNOC Global Trading Ltd or Emirates National Oil Company,” Raila said.

The opposition boss declared he will not relent until all the details of the oil deal are made public and his allegations addressed.

“Once again, we reiterate that we stand by every word we have said on this oil deal. We will not relent until the truth is known and punishment that fits the crime is meted out. In the meantime, heads must roll at the Energy Ministry and National Treasury.”

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