Fraudulent payments claims fuel city rows
Thursday, January 30th, 2020
Claims of alleged fraudulent payment of bills reportedly led to a bitter fallout between Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko and embattled county Finance Executive Pauline Kahiga, leading to her removal from the docket in December.
Sonko, in an Executive Order No.11 of 2019, dated December 4, stripped Kahiga of her acting role at the City Hall Treasury, moved her to the Agriculture docket and replaced her with Trade Executive Allan Esabwa Igambi.
Through a gazette notice by County Secretary Leboo Morintat, Sonko on December 5, before he was arraigned in court over graft-related charges, quashed the appointment of Kahiga, who has reportedly stayed put further escalating the standoff.
Last week, unhappy MCAs, who accused Kahiga of using her docket to influence payment of lucrative tenders to companies allegedly associated with her close relatives, ejected her from office even as they accused her and Agriculture Executive Winnie Gathangu of having taken over operations at City Hall.
Kahiga’s critics accused her of using her position to ensure Nanku Limited, which was already flagged by the Auditor General for conflict of interest, was paid.
Police have been dragged into the City Hall mess for allegedly protecting her by transferring City Hall’s head of security and compliance Tito Kilonzi, who has been moved to police headquarters and replaced with former Nairobi area police commandant Patrick Mwakio.
Kilonzi, according to sources, was moved after he allegedly sent officers to eject Kahiga from office following instructions from MCAs after she refused to hand over to Igambi while others claim that his term at City Hall had come to an end.
Imara Daima MCA Kennedy Obuya, who was among MCAs who stormed Kahiga’s office during the eviction, insisted that she had been serving in the department illegally, adding they were simply performing their oversight role.
But according to County Assembly Minority Whip Peter Imwatok, the ward reps wanted Sh1 billion released by Treasury for payment of pending bills to be diverted to paying lawyers and suppliers, who were not registered as having pending bills, which Kahiga allegedly declined leading to the stand-off.
When contacted yesterday, Kahiga said she was not aware of any fallout with the Governor or MCAs and rubbished claims that she has been using her influence to award and pay questionable tenders.
“The County Treasury has prioritised payment of eligible pending bills to SMEs and/or businesses owned by youth, women and persons living with disabilities as per the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Claims of payments to cartels and relatives are false and unsubstantiated since I have not paid any pending bills so far,” she said in a text message.
Last week after the eviction, Kahiga had said she was ready to leave the Finance office but insisted that the law had to be followed.