EACC investigates Mandago on Uasin Gishu scholarship scandal

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 08:30 | By
Former Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Kiplagat Mandago
Former Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Kiplagat Mandago. PHOTO/Print

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has commenced investigation into alleged embezzlement of more than Sh837 million by officials of the Uasin Gishu County Government.

 The funds were collected from parents for the facilitation of Tertiary Education in Finland and Canada during the Financial Year 2021/22.

 People Daily established that EACC detectives on Tuesday interrogated former Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Kiplagat Mandago for close to eight hours over the scandal.

Mandago is said to have reported to the commission’s headquarters at Integrity Centre at 8am and it was not until 4pm that he was allowed to leave.

 According to a dispatch from the commission, the former governor, now senator was summoned to assist in investigations considering his role as the Chief Executive Officer of the County Government of Uasin Gishu when the Overseas Trust Fund was conceptualised and operationalised.

 “As governor, he also exercised oversight over the Department of Youth, Gender and Sports Affairs, where the program was domiciled, and he is alleged to have played key roles in the adoption of the programme,” the EACC statement read part.

 The Commission added that the issue has elicited overwhelming public interest and has prioritised the same to take appropriate action in accordance with the law.

“All persons found culpable will be held to account. Even as investigations continue on the alleged violations of the law, EACC expects the County Government to take urgent and decisive administrative interventions, where appropriate, to address some of the complaints raised by parents which may not be under the purview of the matters under corruption or criminal investigations,” said EACC.

 The Uasin Gishu Education Trust Fund Account was opened in May 2021 and by December 2022 a total of Sh957,167,143 had been credited to the account by parents. According to the Commission, a total of Sh257,326,740 was debited from the Uasin Gishu Overseas Account to beneficiaries indicated as agents and or intermediaries for onward transmission to universities in Finland and Canada.

County officials

 “The investigation will reveal any embezzlement that may have taken place in the process. Similarly, the probe also focuses on Sh57,538,429 withdrawn locally by the county officials appointed to manage the Trust Fund Account,” the commission added.

 People Daily established that currently 233 students are studying in Finland and 45 in Canada.

 It also emerged that some parents defaulted in making payments, which necessitated the use of funds for children who had not yet travelled to pay second-semester fees for those already in overseas universities.

 The county government has since refunded Sh68 million of the airlift programme even as some parents and students threaten to disrupt the devolution conference slated for later this month in Eldoret if their money is not refunded.

Governor Jonathan Bii and Mandago met on Saturday to establish ways of resolving the crisis said that the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Programme which managed the airlift programme said the programme owes parents over Sh142 million after they paid fees but their children were not placed in any university.

According to the leaders, 322 parents whose children are studying in Finland and Canada owe the trust over Sh96 million.

“The money was paid to students who were already admitted to universities in the two countries to avoid deportation and sustain the programme but we are determined to recover the money from the parents through all means,” said Mandago.

People Daily established that Sh20.9 million had been overpaid to universities in Finland with the leaders set to hold a meeting with parents on how to chart the way to resolve the issue which seen students who did not travel stage demonstrations demanding a refund.

The EACC is probing the alleged loss of Sh38 million in the Finnish airlift scandal which has put the county administration on the spot.

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