STATEMENT BY RT. HON RAILA ODINGA: PRESIDENT KENYATTA HAS MUCH TO LEARN FROM KILIFI THEFT SAGA:
Today, I took opportunity to visit various parts of the county of Kilifi to see first-hand the ravages of the drought and the resulting starvation. Together with H.E Governor Amason Kingi of Kilifi County, we distributed relief items and launched water points that should alleviate the suffering, although it is barely enough.
From the fields, I took a chance to hold a session with the leadership of the County Government of Kilifi to, among other things, specifically get first-hand information on the Kshs 51, 569,775.00 that the county lost through the manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) and the Internet Banking (IB) system of Central Bank.
The money was lost from the Kilifi County Government Account No. 1000170198 held at the Central Bank of Kenya in Nairobi where passwords of Ten County officials are said to have been used to make the transactions. All the officials have however denied using their passwords to make the transaction both at the IFMIS and internet banking Systems.
I must commend the County Government of Kilifi for the decisive manner in which it has handled this fraud. The county government took very clear and specific measures to get to the bottom of this fraud from the moment it got to the attention of the county’s leadership.
On the 10th October 2016 the matter was raised with the Governor and he instructed that all the investigative organs, which as we all know are under the National Government, be informed.
The County Government of Kilifi also immediately suspended the ten officials implicated in this fraud by virtue of their passwords being used, pending conclusion of investigations. The County Government of Kilifi rightly decided that suspects cannot be investigated while they hold office nor could they be the ones guiding the investigations.
On 11th October 2016, the county government wrote to the Director of CID to start investigating the matter. The county followed up with other letters to the EACC and Head of Banking Fraud Unit and cybercrime to equally take up the matter. On the 17th of October 2016 the Governor called a meeting with the CID, Head of Banking Fraud Unit at Central Bank and EACC to demand for progress reports on the investigations.
On the 21st of October 2016, the Governor wrote to the Director of IFMIS in Nairobi and on the same day led a delegation to hand deliver the letter and hold a meeting with IFMIS officials to discuss the matter and requested for speedy investigations.
On 24th October 2016, the County Government of Kilifi wrote to IFMIS requesting that the passwords used in the suspicious payment be withdrawn or retired.
On October 28th 2016, IFMIS wrote to the county and gave details of the transactions which showed which passwords were used. As things stand today, the county government is fully aware of which companies the monies were fraudulently wired to and the names behind those companies. Kilifi County Government has established that the money went to real human beings, with companies and physical addresses and not to ghosts.
Now this looks like a commitment to getting to the bottom of loss of public money.
The County Government of Kilifi did not begin by defending the suspects.
They have not begun by denying that money was lost.
Governor Kingi and his government have not sought to spread the blame and pass the buck.
They have not sought excuses by saying who else is suspected of corruption where.
The Governor and his team have not lamented about lack of powers to fight corruption and theft. Instead, they have relied on the agencies that are controlled by and are at the disposal of the National Government to get to the bottom of the scam.
The habit of spreading blame, passing the buck, lamenting about lack of power, defending suspects before they are investigated and allowing suspects to preside over investigations have been perfected by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto in all the corruption scandals that have engulfed the country, and they are very many.
The County Government of Kilifi has chosen to leave the culture of back passing and spreading of blame and lamenting lack of powers and a wish for a return to the old days of dictatorial powers, to the national government that specializes in that game.
I want to challenge President Uhuru Kenyatta to borrow a leaf from the County Government of Kilifi especially with regard to the shameful scandal at Afya House. A leaf from Kilifi County could also help the President and his team get to the bottom of the scams like NYS and Eurobond that are making Kenyans lose faith in government.
The internal audit head at the Ministry of Health Mr. Bernard Muchere has maintained that the Ministry is unable to account for Sh5.2 billion despite spirited attempts by the National Government to downplay the scandal by reducing the amount lost and whitewashing the suspects through public rallies while investigations are supposed to be going on.
The Auditor has said that the accounting and procurement departments of the Ministry have denied his office documents on three massive payments, forcing him to rely on data in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis) to generate an interim audit. The officers who presided over this scam, particularly Principal Secretary Dr Nicholas Muraguri, are also supervising their own investigation.
The health Ministry scam has injured Kenyans at two very vulnerable spots, HIV/Aids programmes and free maternity. Criminal businessmen assisted by government officers have stolen billions of shillings meant for projects that touch on our very survival as a society.
One would expect the President to be outraged by such catastrophic corrupt practices.
But no! All we hear is back passing and spreading of blame and pointing of fingers by the National Government. All we see is the President and his deputy spending more public money on spin initiatives that are meant to show that the Counties are more corrupt. The National Government is using more public funds to cleanse the suspects.
And we are seeing the President and his deputy trying to turn themselves into supervisors of county governments, having failed to supervise the National Government that Kenyans directly mandated them to supervise.
Kenyans were disgusted to see the Cabinet Secretary and his Principal Secretary first try to sacrifice the internal auditor, then try to sacrifice each other as the criminal businessmen continue to enjoy the proceeds of their crime at the expense of the lives of Kenyans and their unborn babies. Kenyans are sick of seeing the Principal Secretary still enjoying the benefits of public office while claiming to be launching investigations against himself.
Kenyans are sick and disgusted to see able, healthy and rich relatives, friends and associates of the president arrogantly declare that they are underprivileged and disabled and had a right to benefit from programs created for the youth, underprivileged women and the disabled while real deserving cases go home empty handed.
At the same time, the Cabinet Secretary under whose watch these crimes were committed, Mr. James Wainaina Macharia, remains in office where he was transferred after committing this cruel crime against the people of Kenya. The time has come for President Uhuru Kenyatta to come clean with Kenyans and tell us whether he is going to do more to fight corruption or whether what we have seen is the most we shall get.
The time has come for President Kenyatta to explain to Kenyans why Dr Muraguri and Mr. Macharia under whose watch the scam was executed must remain in office.
Where we are today, either the President is protecting the criminal businessmen some of whom are associated with him, and their accomplices in government like Dr Muraguri and Macharia or he has simply reached the end of his abilities.
Neither of these possibilities is helpful to Kenyans. The effect of the President shielding his cronies from prosecution for corruption and that of him failing to come up with workable solutions to the corruption challenge is an equally grievous injury to Kenyans.
Kenyans derive no benefit from the assurances that the supporters of the President keep giving to them that the President is not personally corrupt. In the Presidents own language, there is a saying that there is no difference between a thief and an observer. Both are equally guilty.
The President is therefor guilty for all the corruption that is taking place under his watch. On this health scam, the president has particularly chosen to stand with relatives and friends against the expectant mothers and unborn babies and people living with HIV/ AIDS. It is a heartless and ruthless crime against the people of Kenya.
And so too will all the leaders in the counties if they sit and watch public money being squandered under their watch. All Governors face the same condemnation we are giving President Uhuru today if they follow the example of the President instead of that of Governor Kingi. Mr. President, as we have said before, we need action, not words on corruption.
RT HON RAILA ODINGA, EGH
NOVEMBER 23, 2016.