Kirinyaga Governor Waiguru woes deepen as EACC probes tender
The woes of embattled Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru deepened yesterday after the anti-graft agency launched investigations into alleged irregular awarding of a Sh50 million tender and payment of Sh10.6 million travel allowance.
Waiguru, who was on Tuesday impeached by Members of County Assembly, is accused of irregularly awarding the Sh50 million tender to Verocity Partners, a company said to be associated with her relatives.
The firm had been contracted to supply and install hospital equipment, but the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) says the work had been done by a different contractor.
He woes deepened even as the Waiguru moved to court seeking to overturn her ouster.
She accused the MCAs of violating a court order that had suspended the impeachment proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic period.
Yesterday, Jubilee Party secretary general Raphael Tuju warned that disciplinary action would be taken against the MCAs.
A previous bid to impeach Waiguru in April led to the dismissal of the Assembly Majority Leader, who was pushing for her ouster.
According to papers tabled in the Assembly during the impeachment motion, Verocity Partners was paid Sh50 million for services not rendered.
EACC Central regional manager Charles Rasugu yesterday said the agency was also investigating claims that the Kirinyaga county boss had signed and obtained allowances for fictitious foreign trips.
The claims have put some senior county officials, including the governor’s aides, on the EACC radar. They have been summoned to record statements.
Among those that have been grilled over the travel allowances payment is county Chief of Staff Sellar Barongo and Finance Chief Officer Patrick Mugo Ndathi as well as Waiguru’s aides.
According to Rasugu, an additional 25 individuals have been directed to appears in the agency’s Nyeri regional office for grilling over irregular payment of allowances to the governor.
Another 38 people accused of fraudulently pocketing millions of shillings for work not done in payment of Sh50 million to Verocity Partners are also under investigations.
These are mainly senior procurement officers and others who may have orchestrated the alleged scam.
“We are investigating the two cases. Already we have carted away documents from their offices and we can confirm investigations are going quite well,” Rasugu told the People Daily.
He, however, said Waiguru is yet to be interrogated on the same, but will face investigators at a later date.
“The governor will face the investigation team at the right time. Currently we are grilling those who authorised the payment before summoning her for grilling,” he said.
“We have summoned 19 companies which had tendered for the job but failed to get the job,” he said.
The official said they had initiated investigations after the County Assembly exposed massive corruption during the first bid for the governor’s impeachment on March 31.
“Our investigators moved in immediately we received information bordering on corruption during the tabling of the impeachment motion by Mutira Ward MCA David Kinyua,” he said.
On Tuesday, Governor Waiguru was impeached on accusations of undermining the authority of the Assembly and gross violation of the Constitution.
The motion was moved by Kinyua, who also accused Waiguru of misconduct.
Yesterday, Kirinyaga County Assembly members forwarded the impeachment proceedings to the Speaker of the Senate Kenneth Lusaka.
The documents included evidence of the motion tabled on Tuesday, annexure of the Hansard of what transpired and the list of the people who voted and the respective charges.
“I want to assure Kenyans that Senate is a House of integrity and shall serve justice to both the assembly and the governor without fear or favour,” said Lusaka.
“Senators will be fair to both parties including the governor who will be given an opportunity to defend herself against the accusations,” he noted.
He disclosed that he has convened a special Senate Business Committee at 2.30pm today afternoon to deliberate on the issue. The House team will decide whether a team of 11 senators will be selected to interrogate claims against the governor or subject the process to the whole House. The Speaker said he will communicate the MCA’s resolution to the House on Tuesday next week.
However, Lusaka said he will likely gazette a special sitting next week to conclude the matter as the House is scheduled to break for recess on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Tuju came to Waiguru’s defence, accusing the MCAs of violating a court order and vowed to institute disciplinary action.
“We had communicated to the Kirinyaga County Assembly not to convene and discuss Governor Waiguru’s impeachment because of Covid-19 but the assembly convened and impeached the governor,” said Tuju.
“The matter is already in the Senate. Due process will be allowed into conclusion but the party will take disciplinary action against the Kirinyaga Assembly leadership,” he added.
Speaking separately at Parliament Buildings, Baragwa MCA David Mathenge, who was part of the team that delivered the Assembly verdict, asked President Uhuru Kenyatta not to interfere with the Senate proceedings but allow the House to conduct its business to incriminate or exonerate the governor.
“We ask the President to stand by his words that anyone accused of corruption should carry his or her own cross and should not run to his office to be rescued,” Mathenge said. “We have done our job as MCAs, if she becomes crying to you at State House or Senate, look first at the evidence we have presented against her,” he noted.
In her court move yesterday, Waiguru wants the court to suspend any resolution passed and made by the County Assembly in respect of the impeachment motion against her. Reporting by Githinji Mwangi, Hillary Mageka and Bernice Mbugua