Kenya education officials in court over missing cash

February 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Three senior Ministry of Education officials have been charged over the loss of more than Sh5 million meant for the Free Primary Education programme.

Those arraigned in a Nairobi court on Friday were Deputy Directors of Education Meshack Magwa, Thomas Omuga and Christine Chacha Wegesa.

Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Nyambura issued summons to Acting Director of Secondary and Tertiary Education Concilia Ondieki and Assistant Directors of Education Patrick Lumumba and Francis Kimosop to present themselves in court to answer to similar charges.

It is alleged that Mr Magwa fraudulently acquired Sh1.3 million intended to cater for a workshop on management of instructional materials for secondary schools in the Coast region in November 2008.

He was also accused of falsely accounting for Sh1.9 million intended to cater for a workshop on management of instructional materials for secondary schools in the same region.

The court was further told that Mr Magwa issued four fake receipts for the sum of Sh100,000 to Leah Rotich.

Mr Magwa and Ms Wegesa were accused of fraudulently acquiring Sh1.3 million and falsely accounting for Sh3 million meant for sensitisation workshops.

Ms Wegesa was separately accused of fraudulently accounting for Sh1.4 million intended to facilitate Infrastructure Needs Assessment workshops for secondary schools in the Coast region in June last year.

In the alternative charge, Ms Wegesa was accused of knowingly furnishing payment schedules to the Ministry purporting that she had spent Sh1.4 million to facilitate workshops for secondary schools in Coast Province between June 14 – 24 last year.

All the accused denied the charges and were released on bail. Messrs Magwa and Omuga were ordered to pay Sh500,000 or a bond of Sh1 million with a surety of similar amount to secure their freedom.

Ms Wegesa was however directed to pay Sh1 million cash bail or a bond of Sh2 million with a surety of similar amount.

State Counsel Joseph Gikonyo said that they intend to call over 40 witnesses to give evidence against the accused persons.

The matter will be mentioned next Friday to confirm whether summons will have been served upon those who are yet to plead to the charges.

The decision to charge the senior officers who directly handled the cash came on Thursday after Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri and his Permanent Secretary Professor Karega Mutahi faced questioning by the Parliamentary Committee on Education.

Both maintain their innocence over the misappropriated cash meant for Free Primary Education.

Prof Ongeri told the Parliamentary Committee that he took action after learning that the funds were misused by suspending ministry officials who had irregularly acquired imprests in June last year.

“As I am talking to you now this is a matter that rests with the Kenya Anti Corruption Authority.  I don’t know the fate of it and I have no way of knowing the fate of it. This ministry has done what I think it ought to have done within its own mandate and pushed the matter to another agency which has the mandate to investigate this matter,” Prof Ongeri told the Committee during Thursday’s questioning..

The PS on his part said he never signed any documents that led to the irregular transactions in the training programme.


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