Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu was yesterday arrested by detectives as more governors were questioned over alleged wastage of public funds.
Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives raided Mr Waititu’s Runda home and ransacked it before driving him to Integrity Centre for questioning, as other teams conducted simultaneous raids at the county’s finance offices in Thika and Ruiru.
In Nyeri, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria was on Wednesday evening grilled by EACC detectives on suspected corrupt deals in his government.
On Tuesday, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki recorded a statement on claims a company associated with him was doing business with the county.
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On the same day, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu was at the EACC offices to answer to claims of irregular appointment of one of her county executive committee members.
Yesterday, EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak said they were investigating the irregular award of tenders valued at Sh588 million to companies associated with Waititu and members of his immediate family.
“Preliminary investigations show the contractors paid money to senior county officials, their companies or relatives through proxies,” Mr Mbarak said.
Conflict of interest
He said they were also investigating fraudulent acquisition of public funds, conflict of interest and money laundering.
Detectives arrived at Waititu’s Runda home before 6am armed with a search warrant. They found the governor with his family. They were in the house for nearly five hours before packing up and leaving with Waititu.
Another team had also searched the house of Diana Nduta, Waititu’s daughter, in Belcrest Gardens in Kileleshwa.
At the finance chief officer’s offices in Thika, the detectives seized 10 computers and 12 files.
Mbarak said valuable evidence relevant to their investigation was recovered in the searches.
“Search operations were conducted by EACC on May 23 in the homes and offices of the governor, his family members, directors of private companies and 10 senior employees of the county government.”
The governor was later released yesterday evening.
On Wednesday, Mr Iria was questioned for hours over alleged procurement impropriety in the purchase of 34.5 acres in Murang’a.
A source said the governor was called to shed light on the purchase of the land in Kabati area for Sh340 million, about Sh10 million per acre, a price EACC believes is inflated.
The land – Mitubiri/Wempa/block 2/2575 – is meant for an agro-marketing and value addition centre to be established by the county.
“The governor presented himself at our Nyeri regional office at 5pm and left three hours later,” said EACC spokesperson Yassin Amaro.
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Mr Amaro said they were trying to establish if there was value for money, or if the deal was a rip-off.
“The probe involves establishing whether procurement and financial laws were breached,” said Amaro.
Yesterday, Iria’s phone went unanswered and he did not respond to our text messages.
EACC Regional Director Charles Rasugu said Iria was summoned to shed light “on an ongoing investigation touching on his government”.
“We have interviewed over 30 people in our investigations,” said Mr Rasugu.
According to dealers at Kenol market, where the land is situated, an acre goes for between Sh1.5 million and Sh2 million. A valuer put the cost of land at between Sh4 million and Sh5 million.
On Tuesday, Mr Njuki and his wife Margaret Muthomi Mugweru recorded statements over claims of inflating the cost of an incinerator purchased by his administration for Chuka town.
The couple was questioned over alleged links with Generation Electronics and Allied Limited, which procured, installed and commissioned the incinerator. It is claimed the equipment cost Sh4 million but was sold to the county government for Sh34 million.
The EACC sleuths traced the purchase and importation of the machine from China, the logistics company that shipped it, and where it was held as the county government advertised for the same in the local dailies.
The advertisement had the exact specifications of the already imported incinerator.
Mrs Ngilu, on the other hand, presented herself at the EACC’s Kitui offices to record a statement on the alleged irregular appointment of a Cabinet member said to have questionable academic papers.
“Governor Ngilu came to clarify issues on the recruitment of one of her CECs,” said Amaro.
Efforts to get a comment from Ngilu were futile, as she neither answered our calls nor responded to text message.
The EACC and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have for the last one month been investigating the Kitui CEC following allegations that he presented a forged degree certificate from a local university during his vetting and appointment.
The files for the governors who are being probed will be forwarded to the ODPP with various recommendations. “Some of the cases are dirty and prosecution is inevitable,” said an official who has seen the files.
The EACC is also actively probing a governor from Rift Valley and another from lower Eastern.
The second-term governor from the North Rift is under scrutiny over property acquired in Nairobi since he assumed office.
One of them is a four-star hotel in the city that is estimated to have cost Sh1.2 billion.
Another first-term county boss is also being investigated over questionable wealth and confidential expenditure accounts, with detectives said to be keenly monitoring transaction activities.
“We are investigating a number of governors following complaints from the public. There are those at the initial stages while others are 60 per cent complete. For others, it is about filling in the identified gaps,” said a senior EACC official.