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DCI hunt for Afya ‘Mafioso’ conning citizens of millions

By People Reporter
Thursday, May 28th, 2020
Health ministry headquarters in Nairobi. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary
    • Health ministry CS Mutahi Kagwe acknowledged there was a cartel operating at the Afya House.
    • DCI investigating an alleged scam amounting to Sh37.5 million worth of medical supplies said to have put together by cons and some ministry insiders.
    • Businessman Ibrahim Adan is said to have been allegedly swindled of the medical equipment and an additional Sh2.3 million by people posing as Health ministry officials.

Open admission by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe of the existence of criminal elements at Afya House who collude with cartels to pilfer public resources did not come as a shocker—it is a State docket that has been associated with a litany of sickening underhand deals.

The latest of such is the Sh37 million procurement scam that is being investigated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The architects of the scam, like others, are said to have used contacts at the ministry to con two businessmen of cash.

On Wednesday, Kagwe said the ministry had cartels fleecing members of the public of millions of shillings.

“Like a market place, there are a few mad cases here. We will unearth them as we move on.

It will be those Mafioso that will tell you that you can do a deal with them to supply computers, personal protective equipment, pens and even blood. We know they are in here,” he said.

Though the CS vowed to flush them out, he also admitted that it would not be easy task because the criminal elements at the ministry are deeply entrenched with some even resisting transfers to other dockets.

A week ago, two suspects, Mercy Waihiga Wanjiku alias Linda Masake Mugundu and George Otieno Otanga, were arrested and arraigned over the scandal involving procurement of equipment to fight Covid-19 pandemic. 

Suspect freed

The first suspect, Wanjiku, was arraigned before Senior Principal Magistrate Martha Nanzushi of the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi last Friday and was released on a surety bond of Sh500,000 or a cash bail of Sh200,000. 

She managed to raise the cash bail and was set free after the court declined a plea by Sergeant Elias Kariuki from DCI Parklands to detain her for 14 days to enable the police complete investigations.

“The investigations are still in progress with the aim of recovery of the said items and arrest of the remaining suspects still at large, who include officials from the Ministry of Health, and the respondent (Wanjiku) would be of great assistance in enabling the investigating officer to accomplish this,” Sgt Kariuki said, adding that releasing the respondent would jeopardise investigations.

But Naanzushi freed Wanjiku and directed her to be reporting at Parklands DCI offices on a daily basis till June 5, 2020, when the case will be mentioned.

Calculated moves

Otanga is still being held at Kilimani Police Station in connection with another fraud probe. The DCI boss Fatuma Hadi said Otanga was expected to be charged in court on Tuesday.

 Sources privy to the investigations, detectives are trying to establish how Wanjiku and her accomplices managed to hold three meetings at Afya House in a boardroom used by the Human Resources department without the knowledge of the authorities.

Under probe also is how two lorries belonging to Administration Police and a pick-up owned by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) were used to ferry the procured goods worth Sh37 million from Nairobi’s Ngara area to an unspecified destination.

Though Wanjiku is not an employee of the Health ministry, she said to have been in possession of keys of the boardroom, which she could easily access at any time.

According to DCI officers, Eastleigh-based businessman Ibrahim Adan is said to have been approached by a friend for financial assistance to supply medical equipment to the Health ministry worth Sh37.5 million.

The equipment comprised 20,000 hand gloves worth Sh19 million, 1,000 pieces of non-contact thermometers worth Sh18.5 million and 579 boxes of face masks.

Adan was then connected with alleged Health ministry officials who lured him  to three meetings in  one of the boardrooms at Afya House.

The businesman was subsequently issued with a fake Local Purchase Order (LPO) based on restricted Ministry of Health tender MOH/DPPH/DNMP/001/GF-ONT/2019-2020 dated May 4, 2020, supposedly awarded to Rocketway Construction Ltd.

Adan then approached pharmaceutical shops in Westlands where they purchased the equipment in readiness for delivery.

Under investigation

Following three meetings at Afya House, Wanjiku is alleged to have informed the businessman that some ministry inspectors had established that the goods that had by then been stored in Ngara were expiring soon and demanded a Sh3 million bribe for the officials to approve the supply.

Adan alleges he gave out Sh2.3 million before a lorry and a truck with AP service colours and another alleged to be from Kemsa, escorted by armed suspected rogue police officers in uniform, were loaded with the goods and driven off.

It was only when he started following up on the payment, through an email he had been given that he was informed he had been dealing with fraudsters. 

“The Ministry of Health disowned the tender and informed me that I had been conned. That is when I decided to report the matter to police,” Adan told People Daily yesterday.

Contacted, Health Ministry communications official Judith Sirima said police were following up the matter. “I don’t have much details on the matter, which is being investigated by DCI detectives. But there was something of the sort,” she said.

Parklands DCI boss Superintendent David Chebii said his officers were out to establish how unscrupulous individuals could use a government facility to con members of the public.

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