Senators call for probe into Kingi’s tenure as Governor
A Senate oversight committee wants former Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, who is now the Speaker of the same House, to account for Sh140 billion the county received in the form of revenue allocation for the 10 years he served in office.
The County Public Accounts Committee of the senate directed the Auditor General’s office conduct a thorough audit on the legal fees paid to lawyers and pending bills accrued during Kingi’s tenure.
The committee was shocked that the county government had a Sh1.1 billion pending bills in legal fees, an amount owed to one law firm that had rendered services to the County government during Kingi’s tenure.
In response, current Governor Gideon Mung’aro told the committee that his administration had contested the payment and appealed the court ruling, adding that some of the cases the county lost were a result of non-appearance in the courts.
“We are contesting the payment. I have been on this issue since I assumed office. The bank has told me that their hands are tied and they can only stop the payment with another court order,” said Mung’aro.
While questioning if any meaningful projects were undertaken in Kilifi County, Committee chair Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’ Kajwang’ said poverty in the county had created room for religious indoctrination.
“The County has received more than Sh140 billion in the last 10 years which should have turned around the county. Kilifi County is constructing a palatial residence for the governor while there are more pressing needs,” said Kajwang’.
He questioned how a lawyer could bill the county government Sh900 million yet he was owed only Sh300 million.
Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah proposed that the Speaker be summoned to appear before the committee together with some of his key officials to shed light on how his administration spent more than Sh140 billion he received as County revenue allocation.
“The former Governor should be summoned here to tell us how he spent Sh140 billion during his tenure since he presided over a criminal enterprise,” said Omtatah.
Omtatah said that the legal fees charged indicated a clear collusion between the county and the lawyers concerned since the figures involved were astronomical, adding that the matter was more complicated than the way it appeared.
“The theft in Kilifi County is on a grand scale and poverty levels are very high. The lawyers involved are known and the funds stolen should be recovered from the people involved,” he charged.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said paying between Sh800 million to Sh1.1 billion to one Lawyer was unacceptable calling for the invitation of the former Governor to shed light on what happened during his administration.
Kajwang’ said that when leaders cannot fix their problems internally they run to court with a penchant for litigation for matters that can be solved internally.
In his response, Mung’aro said he terminated the services of the former County Attorney, adding that on his first week in office, he suspended a bill of Sh1.1 billion from a Lawyer who wanted to be paid by the county.
“In some of the court cases, the county did not make an appearance. The petitioners who took the cases to court had a field day. We have tried to solve some and have appealed some,” said Mung’aro.
Richard Onyonka (Kisii) said that there was a deliberate attempt to make sure money was being paid even if the matter went to court.
Kilifi Senator, who is the Senate Minority leader Stewart Madzayo, said thorough investigations should be conducted into the matter, adding that the county collected Sh829 million from its own source revenue in 2020-2021 and that if the lawyer in question was to be paid the entire figure could have gone.
Yesterday, the Senators revealed that the County government had been paying Sh48 million annually to a firm that was supposed to assist in the collection of own-source revenue.
However, the County government terminated the contract before the firm went to court and got an order forcing the devolved unit to pay Sh4 million for no service rendered.
Mung’aro told the committee that although he went to the banks to stop the payment and appealed a High Court order, the County government was unable to stop the payments.
Yesterday, the committee questioned how the contract between the County government and the firm was executed and an escrow account with Sh600 million left in the hands of only one player - – Raindrops software firm.
“The architecture of the whole contract was skewed from the onset. What was the responsibility of professionals in the County who signed the contract documents, executed and witnessed? Does this constitute professional negligence? It seems there was a deliberate effort to reap off Kilifi through connivance,” said Kajwang’.
He went on: “How do you do an Escrow account with only one party controlling? Faceless individuals? How do you pay for services not being rendered? You must do what you must do. Your problem is lack of seriousness.”
“You are deliberately allowing the County Government to be fleeced of taxpayers money by crooks who are not doing anything. You are collecting Sh9 million from market fees and taking the same to pay some crooks hiding behind the software provider. Why are we treating public money in such a manner?” posed Kajwang’.
“We need a direct disclosure of contingent liabilities. You have a look at contingent liabilities otherwise County Government of Kilifi would be a going concern. Audit all payments made with respect to legal fees including pending bills. You must put up a robust defence and make sure that you are not paying for services not rendered,” said Kajwang’.