Senate calls in agencies to probe City Hall graft

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A Senate committee has asked the Auditor General to conduct a forensic audit of the financial statements of the Nairobi City County Assembly for the last four financial years.

This as they directed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to pitch tent in the City Assembly and unearth individuals who led to the misappropriation of more than Sh1.3 billion disbursed to the County Assembly.

The revelations emerged during a probe into the Auditor General’s report for four financial years which was characterised by interdictions and suspensions of officials in the accounts department of the County Assembly. The Senate County Public Accounts Committee chaired by Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay), painted a grim picture of the County Assembly, adding that the Audit Committee is dead, primary oversight wanting and primary controls completely non-functional.

The committee took a dim view of the report because it was the fourth straight year the Assembly received adverse audit reports, meaning that the Assembly team was unable to prepare financial reports free of mistakes.

Breach of financial records

The opinions further indicate that there is a serious persistent material breach in the Assembly’s financial records and could not conclusively account for the Sh1.3 billion the Assembly received in the 2020-21 financial year.

It was further revealed the Assembly could also not support some expenditures with documents and in some instances, officers made payments without authorisation, persistent in the county since inception of the Assembly in 2013.

Of all the 27 queries raised by the Auditor General in the 2020-21 financial year, the leadership had only responded to one comprehensively.

“What we have been treated to is beyond audit. Documents signed by an interdicted officer can’t be admissible before the committee. EACC must carry out a forensic audit of the Nairobi County Assembly while the DCI must move and determine criminal culpability because the issues in the Assembly go beyond audit,” said Kajwang’.

Unauthorised signatory

This is after it emerged an unauthorized person signed the financial statements for 2020-21.

“We will not be able to get into the substantive issues of the report if the report was signed by a person not qualified. The County Assembly of Nairobi violated laws, the Public Audit Act, the PFM Act and the Constitution. This is the most untidy report we are seeing,” charged Kajwang’. “We cannot process a report that is a forgery on its face. For a student who comes to class regularly cannot have an adverse opinion for four years. The County Assembly has had persistent breaches of the Public Finance Management Act. This one goes beyond audit. This requires investigations.”

The committee also resolved to write to the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya to investigate and discipline two of its members working at the Assembly for professional negligence.

Assembly Clerk Edward Gichana and Speaker Ken Ng’ondi were taken to task how his administration got four adverse opinions of the audit reports.

However, Gichana told the committee the Assembly has had a political transformation, adding that at the time of the audit, they had six acting clerks and three acting Speakers, a move he says could have seen massive plunder of the resources.

“We had six acting clerks at the time. We had three Speakers. You can imagine the kind of mess we were in. The assembly was in total mess,” charged Ng’ondi.

During the year under review, the Assembly had Beatrice Elachi (now Dagoretti North MP), Chege Mwaura and Benson Mutura as Speakers while acting clerks included Gichana, Jacob Ngwele, Pauline Akuku, Castro Otieno and Adah Anyango.

Gichana told the committee that for a long time the County Assembly did not have a functional Audit committee to audit the financial statements, adding that the quorum of the committee is three and when one passed on, the committee remained dysfunctional.

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