Orengo sends Siaya County Secretary and Chief Officers on compulsory leave
Siaya County Secretary Joseph Ogutu and all chief officers have been sent on compulsory leave as a probe into alleged graft in the devolved unit begins in earnest.
Siaya Governor James Orengo said on Tuesday, October 4, that the move is intended to pave way for an independent audit of the county’s financial transactions and human resources.
Orengo unveils taskforce
The county boss made the remarks while unveiling a 7-member taskforce charged with the responsibility of auditing the county coffers.
It's alleged that Ksh1 billion went missing in a single financial year with Ksh400 million disappearing just 14 days before the August 9 polls.
The governor said those implicated in graft had allegedly started fighting back by threatening the task force headed by former Auditor General Edward Ouko.
While expressing his confidence in the team's ability to deliver, Orengo stated that intimidation and threats will not deter the team from carrying out the 60-day exercise.
He alleged that an intricate network of “corruption cartels” had ruined Siaya.
“We have found the status of finances in Siaya deplorable in terms of financial management and physical reporting. We were confronted by what it looks like an outwrite embezzlement and wastage of the taxpayers' money,” Orengo stated.
“We had to stop pending bills but that does not stop essential services, the statutory deductions and necessary payments that enhance the smooth running of county affairs," he added.
“I must start in a clean sheet that’s why the rots in any part of the government system must be cleaned and we are optimistic that the task force we are availing today shall give details that would unearth and expose the corrupt cartels that have brought down the institution. I have therefore ordered the County secretary and all chief officers to go for a compulsory leave with immediate effect.
He directed the acting officers to resume office with immediate effect.
Orengo said those going for compulsory leave must avail themselves to the task force, the County Government and investigation agencies for questioning, whenever called to do so.
“The aim of sending county officials on compulsory leave is not pegged on witch hunting but a provision of a favourable environment that allows the probe,” he said.
The county boss also reshuffled 10 accountants and procurement officers to other departments and re-deployed others to undertake other assignments.
“The finance department has been overhauled and major chances made which takes immediate effect," Orengo said adding that the specific detailed report on deployment will be vailed to the press later.
He added the procedure for impress payments, or making cash withdrawals must be done in strict compliance with the financial and must be evidenced by written requisition thereof and approvals in writing and the delivery receipts must be obtained from the payee or beneficiary in writing.
“The documents must be signified by valid signatures and stamps,” he stated.
At the same time, Orengo reshuffled the County Executive Committee Members with Richard Mungla taking over the Enterprise and Development docket while Cleophas Ombogo (finance) was moved to Enterprise.
The Agriculture Executive Elizabeth Odhiambo will double up as Water Executive.
The governor, who was flanked by his Deputy William Oduol, County Speaker George Okode and Siaya Township MCA Obiero Otare asked the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to expedite and conclude investigations saying the perennial presence of the agencies in the county without appropriate executive action being taken has the effect of disrupting normal operations.
He further appealed to the police to continue providing security to the finance documents as investigations continue.
“I want to thank the County commissioner Jim Njoka and the police for keeping vigil at the Finance offices to ensure no materials including accountable documents leave the County premises," he said.
Okode, on his part, said he is waiting to receive the report of the task force for debating and approval for and subsequent implementation by the executive wing of the government.
He urged the task force not to be distracted by criticism and to do its work effectively.
“If you take too long and your report does not recommend prosecution, then the public will demand to know the amount spent in the task force. If you take short time with the process, they will demand the pages of the report so be yourselves and not be distracted by side shows,” Okode said.